WiMAX operators come to market bringing broadband access

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Deployment of WiMAX connectivity is ramping up across the region to the extent that by the end of last month services were commercially available via eleven operators in six countries. Algeria has led the region with service available since July 2005 from Smart Link Communication. In the intervening four years WiMAX service has come to Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia and several other Arab countries have started testing services, according to a report from Arab Advisors Group.

However, challenges remain. "There are still no detailed regulations specific to WiMAX in some Arab countries," says Jawad Abbassi, founder and general manager of Arab Advisors Group. "Still, a few have specified the type of license that needs to be obtained to provide WiMAX service. For example, in Algeria, the company should have a VoIP authorisation and regulator has specified the 3.5 GHz band for WiMAX. In Jordan, the company should have an individual license needed to use the frequency as well as win the spectrum auction for WiMAX."

The regional surge fits in with WiMAX advances across the globe. Industry body, the WiMAX Forum has recently projected that 800 million people will have access to next generation WiMAX networks by next year and reports that there are now nearly 460 deployments of the technology in 135 countries. The Forum reckons that 430 million people are currently covered by the technology and sees new licence allocation in Brazil and India, which are expected this year, to be important stimulae for increased uptake.

 "WiMAX coverage is here now and is the catalyst in the global marketplace to deliver 4G broadband internet access to countries that don't want to wait," said Ron Resnick, president and chairman of the WiMAX Forum. "These new deployment numbers reveal the mobile internet WiMAX ecosystem has achieved strong growth and will continue to satisfy the market demand to deliver high-speed broadband services in 2009. Certified products in the 3.5 GHz band will now give more operators access to the equipment and devices needed to deliver mobile broadband services."

Stewart Baines

I've been writing about technology for nearly 20 years, including editing industry magazines Connect and Communications International. In 2002 I co-founded Futurity Media with Anthony Plewes. My focus in Futurity Media is in emerging technologies, social media and future gazing. As a graduate of philosophy & science, I have studied futurology & foresight to the post-grad level.