Mobile WiMAX chipset shipments surged year-over-year, from 5 million in 2009 to 15 million in 2010, according to the inaugural issue of Maravedis’s ‘4Ggear Quarterly Report.’ LTE chipsets, in contrast, shipped in “low volumes,” though the market research firm sees them growing significantly–reaching 10 million units–this year.
A big increase in WiMAX subscribers drove 2010’s jump in volume, Maravedis’s analysts say. “The 2010 surge in mobile WiMAX device and chipset shipments, the total WiMAX chipset market is partly the result of the addition of 7.7 million WiMAX subscribers during the year,” said Vikram Krishnamurthy, the report’s author. However the overall picture is mixed. Shipments of WiMAX devices increased in 2010 but will be impacted by WiMAX carriers planning a move to LTE.
The price of a WiMAX chipset currently averages $13. Maravedis sees the price plateauing at $10 in the “a couple of years.” Indoor modems made up 24% of WiMAX units activated in 2010. USB dongles, PC cards and netbooks/laptops accounted for 52%, and activated handsets 24%. Broadcom, formerly Beceem, Sequans and GCT accounted for nearly 83% of the WiMAX chipset market last year.
Consolidation of base-band chipset manufacturers is taking place in the LTE sector in advance of an expected surge in demand this year. Early incumbent LTE chipset fabricators have an edge over later entrants, according to Maravdedis’s analysis. “Interestingly, the early incumbent LTE chipset suppliers may have a meaningful time to market advantage in the dual-mode 3G/4G chipset market,” said Fernando Donoso, Team Leader for the 4Ggear service. “While LTE incumbent providers focus on sampling dual-mode chipsets, new entrants position themselves as technology drivers, delivering early LTE-only solutions.”