Clearwire No. 1 WiMAX Provider

Clearwire Corp. is hanging onto its slot as the top BWA/WIMAX operator in terms of subscriber numbers, despite halting marketing activities to focus on its network build-out in the United States.

That’s the word from research firm Maravedis. Generally speaking, the second quarter of 2009 saw 560,000 BWA/WiMAX subscribers added in the second quarter of 2009, according to Maravedis. The average BWA/WiMAX subscriber growth rate was 16.5 percent higher than the first quarter, with a 74 percent year-over-year growth rate since the second quarter of 2008.

Meanwhile, the average WiMAX ARPU went up, reaching $39.50 and $121.80 for residential and business segments respectively, compared to $36.70 and $111.74 for the same segments in the first quarter.

“Global service revenue growth is going up as WiMAX operators experience increase in subscriber growth, and the gradual appreciation of most currencies against the U.S. dollar,” noted Maravedis CEO and Founder, Adlane Fellah.

“The first part of 2009 was difficult for WiMAX because of the economic recession, however in Q2 2009 we saw many operators recovering from the subscriber and revenue slowdown they experienced in previous quarters,” noted Cintia Garza, Maravedis analyst.

WiMAX remains attractive for greenfield operators, while incumbents remain mostly LTE supporters. “The higher demands imposed by open Internet access on Web-phones and laptops pushes incumbent operators to LTE, and greenfield operators to more rapid returns for WiMAX deployments,” said Robert Syputa, Maravedis senior analyst and partner. “With additional spectrum hard to come by, this is likely to pull in the time frame for conversions of existing spectrum. Operators’ thinking shows early signs of shifting.”

Even so, the research firm found that there will be continued investment in 3G while LTE remains non-commercial. “LTE is considered today by many mobile operators as the main option to address the need for higher bandwidth services. However the technology is experiencing continuous delays in terms of the availability of LTE devices and lack of harmonized spectrum; many operators are eager to continue profiting from their current CDMA/HSPA networks before they invest huge sums into next generation networks,” explained Maravedis analyst Basharat Ashai.

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