Shipments of mobile WiMAX chipsets were predicted to reach four million by the end of 2009 according to the latest research by Maravedis, who in partnership with Reveal Wireless released its new report “WiMAX Wave2 Subscriber Station Chipset Vendors Competitive Analysis.” Maravedis and Reveal Wireless found that the WiMAX subscriber station chipset ecosystem is acutely fragmented, with more than 14 chipset vendors competing for market share. “This puts pressure on vendors with insufficient customer traction, lacking funding or scale, or offering only partial chipset solutions,” said Adlane Fellah, Maravedis CEO and Founder and Co-author of the report.

Several early movers that entered the WiMAX market with fixed or Wave1 mobile solutions are now shipping Wave2 compliant chipsets, mainly composed of a baseband chip and companion RF transceiver IC. “However, most of the available chipsets are not highly optimized because they were compelled to cover a broad range of application segments,” noted Pascal Deriot, Senior Analyst and Co-author of the report. “We believe that WiMAX mass market adoption requires ubiquitous coverage and IOT mature, sub $10 chipsets that are power and performance optimized for each application-specific segment.”

This research provides a detailed comparison of the key WiMAX chipset vendors, identifying system architectures, estimating chipset and system BOM, cost of available devices, such as CPEs, USB dongles or Express Cards, and researching vendor product roadmaps and SWOT. The report covers over 29 baseband, RF IC and module solutions from 14 WiMAX vendors, and profiles the five key players—Beceem, GCT, Intel, Samsung and Sequans—offering an in-depth analysis of each chipset.

Select Key Findings:

  • The five key players have introduced differentiated chipset solutions, enabling them to gain significant leadership in their target market segments.
  • Few WiMAX chipset players have the scale to effectively address all segments; no global leader has emerged in 2009.
  • Mixed process technologies and packaging approach have been launched in 2009, from monolithic solutions to System-in-Package implementations to save cost and space.
  • Similar to WiFi or 3GPP/3GPP2 platforms, vendors leverage their first or second generations to further reduce chipset cost and improve footprint, Bill of Material and performance.
  • Three chipset vendors are best positioned to achieve the US$10 price target through baseband and RF monolithic die integration in 65-nm.
  • The WiMAX market is not large enough to support 14 chipset vendors. Consolidations, exits and transitions toward LTE are expected in the next two years.

The report also analyzes the difficult choices faced by small chipset players with limited budgets. The next challenge for most WiMAX chipset vendors will be to find the right balance of R&D investments in an LTE transition and a more integrated and cost-effective path for their WiMAX solution.