Both fixed and mobile WiMAX will be important to cellular operators to help them relieve congestion from their cellular data networks and to prepare for data technologies beyond 3G, a study released Tuesday by ABI Research claims.
The study noted that, a year ago, there was a lot of hype about the performance of WiMAX that have proven to be overly optimistic.
"Those who made extravagant performance claims were just trying to get the wheels of the WiMAX bandwagon moving," Philip Solis, author of the new study, said in a statement. "Today, most commentators have no problem admitting that real-world speeds, depending as they do on the number of users per base station sector and their distance from the base-station, will be far slower than media reports had previously suggested."
Given the heavy investment by cellular operators in 3G service such as UMTS, HSDPA and EV-DO, some question the need for WiMAX at all, particularly mobile WiMAX the study says. However, Solis claims that the mobile carriers will adopt WiMAX and that the technology will play an important role.
"Mobile WiMAX will eventually form part of cellular providers' networks, alleviating network congestion in urban areas," Solis said. "Providers will use it to offload part of the data traffic. At the same time, WiMAX is becoming a stepping-stone to 4G mobile services, which will be based on related technologies."
Solis was referring to the fact that generation of cellular data service after 3G, often called 4G, is expected to use OFDM technology, such as that used by WiMAX, as opposed to cellular technology.
The study also noted that cellular operators face threats from wireless ISPs, which Solis said "will kickstart the competition for cellular operators.