The next twelve months should be a pivotal year for next-generation 4G mobile broadband service deployments as growth in mobile data traffic continues to outpace operators’ revenues, according to Maravedis’s 4GCounts Quarterly Report.

As of year-end, there were more than 600 WiMAX deployments extant worldwide, along with 61 certified base stations and more than 13 million subscribers. The broadband wireless access (BWA)/WiMAX subscriber base grew by 3.7 million in 4Q and will increase another 5.5 million in 2011. The top 50 WiMAX operators accounted for 8.34 million of the worldwide WiMAX subscriber base, which will reach 18.5 million by the end of this year.

By way of contrast, the worldwide LTE subscriber base will reach 6.5 million by the end of 2011, Maravedis says. There will be 58 FDD-LTE (Frequency Division Duplex-Long Term Evolution) and three TD-LTE (Time Division-LTE) networks operational by year-end 2011, with 222 and 25 operator commitments for the two duplex LTE options, respectively, according to Maravedis’s report.

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“As several 4G spectrum auctions take place in the first half of 2011 (mainly in Europe) more operators will feel the need to confirm their plans regarding LTE,” Esteban Monturus, co-author of the report, was quoted as saying.

Significant LTE-related developments are taking place in India, where operators are getting ready to roll out LTE in the recently allocated 2.3 GHz TDD spectrum and Reliance has confirmed plans to roll out TD-LTE to build out its 4G network. “The momentum has shifted to TD-LTE among Indian BWA licensees,” report co-author Basharat Ashai stated.

“We believe that nearly 55% of the operators committed to LTE today will use FDD, with potential of adding TDD in the long term. 25% will use FDD-LTE and are unlikely to deploy TDD at all,” 4GCounts Team Leader Cintia Garza explained.

For the top 50 WiMAX operators in 4Q 2010:

  • ARPU across all regions totaled US$37.98 for the residential sector and US$71.45 million for businesses;
  • Total year-end revenues totaled US$2.42 billion as compared to US$970.55 million in 2009;
  • At 31%, 2.59 million units, handsets had the largest market share for WiMAX access modes followed by 2.42 million USB dongles (29%) and 2.35 million PCMCIA cards (28%);
  • The installed base of base stations totaled 449,988 globally and 269, 845 for the top 50 WiMAX operators, according to the 4G Counts Report.

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