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According to a recent report by the UK's mobile market-watcher, Juniper Research, worldwide revenues from LTE subscribers will exceed $70bn (£43.4bn) by 2014.
By contrast, Juniper lowered its forecast of WiMAX revenues to $15bn (£9.3bn) in the same period, down from their 2008 prognosis of $20bn (£12.4bn) by 2013.
North America, Western Europe, the Far East, and China will account for 90 per cent of the LTE market by 2014, with the same areas providing 70 per cent of the WiMAX market in the same time frame.
WiMAX will carve out $4bn (£2.5bn) in business in Africa, the Middle East, South America, India, and Eastern Europe, according to the report, which opines that "WiMAX has role to play in providing broadband in developing countries where there is no wired network."
The author of both reports, Howard Wilcox, says that "We're on the cusp of make or break time for WiMAX." Here at The Reg, we're putting our money on "break" over "make."
The Juniper Research report determined that there are several open issues that need addressing before the market takes off. Wilcox cautioned: "LTE will offer broadband speeds of up to 100mbit/s or more: this is at least five times faster than the best mobile broadband now and around 20 times faster than most people experience via fixed DSL. The challenge for mobile operators is how to make profits yet keep prices attractive enough for subscribers to sign up. It’s all about the business case.”
At this year's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, strong support for LTE was announced by Alcatel-Lucent, US mobile leader Verizon, and others, forcing WiMAX provider Clearwire to issue a statement saying that "Clearly, having more operators espousing the benefits of 4G can only serve to increase consumer awareness and demand for better services."
WiMAX may be down, but it's not out - although you are to be forgiven if you mentally add "yet" to that conclusion. Sprint, for one, is not going down without a fight. That US telecom-services provider plans to offer WiMAX coverage to over 22 million potential US customers by the end of 2010.
The key word there is "potential." With both AT&T and Verizon committed to LTE, competition for 4G hearts, minds, and wallets is certain to be fierce. And with figures like $70bn and $15bn being bandied about by Juniper, there's plenty of money to be made - and lost - in the mobile-broadband battle.
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