In a new report, “WiMAX in Emerging Markets: Malaysia,” the Strategy Analytics Emerging Markets Communications Strategies service forecasts that in five years WiMAX will grow from virtually a standing start to more than 1.5 million subscriptions generating $1.4 B in revenue.

The Malaysian government has very aggressive plans to grow broadband penetration to 75 percent of households by 2010, and is looking to WiMAX to help meet its goals. To do this, the report emphasizes, WiMAX must overcome its short but troubled history of delayed launches, licenses granted and withdrawn, and tenders cancelled.

An end-of-August deadline for launching commercial services seems to have been largely met by the four companies that hold 2.3 GHz WiMAX licenses. “It’s a good start to have actual tariffed services available in Kuala Lumpur and a few other locations,” notes Tom Elliott, vice president of Applied Analytics and author of the report. “But there is still a lot of hard work to be done to get WiMAX out to the rest of the country.” The license holders are required to offer WiMAX to 25 percent of the population in their service areas by the end of 2008.

David Kerr, vice president, Global Wireless Practice, points out that there is likely to be competition from established players with other technology solutions, including Telekom Malaysia, which dominates DSL offerings. “A couple of Malaysia’s wireless operators, Maxis and Celcom, are even offering HSDPA modems configured for fixed use, competing with WiMAX and DSL in the residential market.”