WiMAX networks around the world

WiMAX Networks Around the World Beginning in 2004, WiMAX networks have rapidly emerged in areas all over the globe. Many Internet Service Providers have launched Metropolitan Wireless Area Networks for backhaul to the Internet or to connect several Wi-Fi mesh networks over long distances. The reach of WiMAX has enabled Internet access where never seen before. Internet is now available on trains in the United Kingdom, boats can receive WiMAX transmissions on the French, Italian and Spanish Rivieras, and remote tribes in Africa are finally able to join the world of telecommunications.

The following highlights many of the largest currently deployed WiMAX networks around the world: Europe: WiMAX networks have made their presence in Europe since as early as 2004. Norby Telecom and Wi-Manx were one of the first companies in Europe to deploy commercial WiMAX networks to cities and rural areas. Today, Norby Telecom has expanded their network to cover over half of Estonia, and Wi-Manx continues to offers home Broadband Wireless Access, Business Internet connectivity, Voice over Internet Protocol, Internet Telephony, and other various network solutions to the Isle of Man near the UK. A few years later, the technology spread to the UK. Freedom4 connected over 4,000 Wi-Fi hotspots around the UK and deployed a Mobile WiMAX Network (802.16e) in London. Additionally, the service provider Nomad Digital has established a WiMAX network alongside the London to Brighton railway line as a backhaul to enable passengers to access the Internet from Wi-Fi Access Points.

In 2005, shortly after the first installation of WiMAX by Norby Telecom and Wi-Manx, Iliad installed the first wireless broadband network in France. The company currently remains the only Internet Service Provider in France with a national license. Any-Port has also made enormous headway in France by integrating an unlicensed WiMAX system to provide Internet connectivity to the waterways between France, Spain, and Italy.

Germany joined the WiMAX ranks in 2005 when Deutsche Breitband Dienste (DBD) set up WiMAX networks in large cities such as Munich under the brand names MAXXonair and DSLonair. In 2006, DBD, along with Clearwire, Inquam, and Telco Arcor, acquired licensed broadband frequencies from the government. Now they provide services to several major cities and rural areas across Germany. The Internet Service Providers Euskaltel, Iberbanda, and Clearwire control the majority share of WiMAX networks in Spain. Euskaltel has established a large network in the Basque region, providing Broadband service to over 100 small cities. In 2006, Iberbanda bought out the WiMAX Company Telefónica and now has the largest number of customers in Spain. In 2007, Clearwire launched its first WiMAX system in Spain, which reached over 300,000 households.

Around the same time, several WiMAX companies implemented Broadband Wireless Networks in Eastern Russia. In 2006, Airspan supplied the equipment necessary for MetroMAX to launch its first commercial WiMAX network in the Samara region of Russia. Other Russian WiMAX providers include Enforta, Summa Telecom, and Synterra WiMAX, all of who hold national licenses and provide commercial services to Moscow and 35 of the largest capitals in Russia.

Italy was one of the last European nations to join the WiMAX race. In 2008, the Italian Ministry of Defense auctioned off 35 licenses for WiMAX 3.5GHz frequencies. The main auction winners were Linkem S.p.A., who currently hosts a WiMAX Mobile Network (802.16e) in Naples, and NGI, who provides a fixed WiMAX network in Rome. Although Italy came into the race late, it plans to deploy seven more 802.16e networks in several regions in the upcoming months.

Asia: Asia brings high hopes for the WiMAX Industry. Experts estimated that Asia held 80,000 WiMAX customers in 2006, and they predict that there will be a significant increase in the number of subscribers by the end of 2009. China Netcom has provided residential users in the Guangdong province of China with fixed Broadband Wireless Access (802.16-2004) sine 2006. They are currently one of the major suppliers of WiMAX technology in China and will prove to be a big player in China’s goal to reach over 3.8 million users by the end of 2009.3 South Korean telecom industries have supplied a huge contribution to the development of Mobile WiMAX (802.16e), which they referred to as WiBro. Samsung has aided SK Telecom and SK in their monumental deployment of Wibro in the city of Seoul in South Korea. No WiMAX networks have been deployed in Japan as of February 2009. However, UQ Communications has given the Japan WiMAX industry reason to be optimistic. The company plans to release Wibro networks in the cities of Tokyo, Yokohama, and Kawasaki for a free 4-month trial in order to prove its worth to its potential subscribers. After the trial, residents will be asked to pay the equivalent of $50 USD a month in order to continue their services. In 2008, REDtone International established Malaysia’s first WiMAX service for enterprise use only. The company now services one of the many 802.16e networks in the country. Before WiMAX, only about 4.9% of India had Internet access and less than 0.5% had broadband connections.4 In 2007, Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd (VSNL) became the first Company to launch WiMax services in India. Today, the company is known as Tata Communications and holds the largest WiMAX market share in India. Nevertheless, the company expects to grow exponentially in the near future and has estimated that they will acquire seven to nine million subscribers by 2010. The government in India has even established a mandate to provide broadband access to all secondary schools, public healthcare centers, and rural areas by the end of 2009. All of these efforts will effectively increase India’s broadband penetration in the near and hopeful future.

Africa: In the recent years, Africa has truly proved itself as one of the leading suppliers of the WiMAX industry. AccessKenya is one of the largest WiMAX networks in East Africa. They provide wireless broadband for residential use in the cities of Nairobi and Mombasa in Kenya. MTN Uganda has made it their goal to provide countrywide WiMAX access in Uganda, and has already installed several operating networks. The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), which regulates telecommunications in South Africa, issued four licenses for commercial WiMAX services to the Internet Service Providers iBurst, Sentech, Neotel, and Telkom. South Africa currently hosts a few scattered operational WiMAX networks, but with the issuance of these licenses, the country is expected see many more networks appear in the upcoming months. In Angola, MSTelcom has deployed a WiMAX network to blanket over half of Luanda with broadband Internet service. In Nigeria, Galaxy Wireless Communications Limited has launched the country’s first Mobile broadband service based on the IEEE 802.16e standard. XS Broadband is also a major contributor to the installment of WiMAX in Nigeria and currently holds licenses for 24 of the 36 Nigerian states.

Australia: Most of Australia’s current WiMAX networks are located in South East Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria. The WiMAX providers Allegro Networks, Unwired, and Austar all hold licensed frequencies and have deployed WiMAX networks throughout the Gold Coast, the Sunshine Coast, Brisbane, and Sydney. They also plan to install Mobile WiMAX networks in several locations once WiMAX Forum certified hardware becomes available. Digital River Networks has also initiated extensive WiMAX trials in the suburbs of Melbourne and owns several Wi-Fi networks in the Country, which they hope to convert to WiMAX networks before June 2009.

South America: Although South America does not have the most WiMAX systems, there are many notable countries whose WiMAX technology is among the top of its class. The Internet Service Providers TelMex, who has deployed a Mobile WiMAX network around the city Brasilia, and Neovia, who has set up a fixed WiMAX network in Sao Paulo, make up the majority of WiMAX networks in Brazil. TelMex has also established an extensive set of WiMAX networks in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Peru, and Ecuador. Colombia received its first WiMAX system in July of 2006 from the Internet Service Provider Orbitel. In addition to Orbitel, the main license holders in Colombia are Telecom and Avantel. In Paraguay, the company Tigo Banda Ancha offers a WiMAX plan for the equivalent of $41 USD in several cities. In Venezuela, Movilmax has established a commercial Mobile WiMAX network (802.16e) in Caracas using CPE modem and PCMCIA laptop cards.

North America: Mexico acquired its first WiMAX system as early as October of 2005. The Internet Service Provider Axtel was the first to develop a commercialized WiMAX network in the country, which it deployed in Monterrey city. Ultranet2go is another WiMAX provider that has bearing in four states including Veracruz, Puebla, Tamaulipas, and Aguascalientes. Additionally, the University of Guadalajara has worked with the government of Jalisco to institute a free WiMAX network for the residents of Jalisco in the near future.

Canada has also aided the advancement of WiMAX technology. MetroBridge Networks provides broadband access for enterprise use only throughout the Canadian provinces. Primus Canada and Mipps Inc. have combined forces to test Mobile WiMAX in Hamilton and Ontario. However, the larger WiMAX institutions in Canada are Inukshuk Wireless and MDS Wireless. Rogers Communications and Bell Canada created a joint venture to form Inukshuk Wireless. They now provide 40 cities, 100 rural areas, and 30 million residents with WiMAX. MDS Wireless currently has operational WiMAX networks for residential and corporate use in Southern Ontario.

Although the United States entered the WiMAX race late, expectations are set high for the rapidly growing market. In 2007, DigitalBridge Communications was the first to launch WiMAX commercially in the US. The company operates under the ISP name BridgeMAXX. They currently contain licenses in several states and have already deployed networks in Idaho, Indiana, Montana, Virginia, South Dakota, and Wyoming. MetroBridge Networks provides WiMAX to businesses in Arizona and Seattle, and Nth Air services WiMAX in California and Nevada. Towerstream adds corporate coverage to the WiMAX mix in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston, Miami, San Francisco, Seattle, Newport, Providence, and Dallas. Clearwire is one of the major Internet Service Providers in the US. Before their merger, Sprint Nextel implemented its first operational WiMAX system in Baltimore under the name XOHM. Afterwards, they took on the Clearwire brand name and have launched a WiMAX system to service about 1.7 million potential clients in Portland Oregon. Moreover, they have initiated several trial networks to further improve their systems with the goal to expand their networks in 80 cities across the country. With these high goals in mind, Clearwire plans to emerge as the leading WiMAX provider in the US in the upcoming months.

By, Ben Feldman

References: 1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_deployed_WiMAX_networks 2. http://www.wimaxmaps.org/ 3. http://www.wimaxworld.com/upcoming_events_asia.shtml 4. http://www.techtree.com/India/News/BSNL_Launches_Wireless_Broadband_in_Gujarat/551-99423-643.html

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