WiMax Forum concentrating on key markets, Brazil not one of them

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The WiMax Forum is concentrating its focus in Latin America on Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, Chile and Peru whereas Brazil is taking more of a backseat, the WiMax Forum's marketing director Declan Byrne told BNamericas.

Though Byrne admits that LTE has won the hearts and minds of the service providers as regards the 4G migration path, he believes that WiMax still has a role to play given the level of demand for broadband, especially in emerging markets.

As for Brazil, though the market "holds a ton of promise," Byrne feels the WiMax Forum has been "stuck in neutral" for the last three years, frustrated by promises from watchdog Anatel that it will auction off licenses in 2.5 GHz that have not come to fruition.

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The regulator appears to be reserving 2.5 GHz for LTE and repeated promises for an auction for licenses in 3.5 GHz this year have not yet been fulfilled.

"There is interest in generally increasing broadband penetration in Brazil. And also Brazil is flush with cash, it's a growing economy with a lot of purchasing power right now. So against that backdrop, WiMax ought to be a credible choice for rural broadband," Byrne said.

"I also think the fixed line groups would probably be interested in WiMax as a rural solution. But it's a complicated market and I'm more interested in the near term in Argentina, Peru, Chile and Colombia. In Peru there are five WiMax operators," he added.

In August, California-based VelaTel Global Communications (formerly ChinaTel Group) launched a wireless broadband access network in eight Peruvian cities over WiMax.

The full interview with Byrne will be available for subscribers in this week's Perspectives.