Much ballyhooed WiMAX wireless broadband technology may not become the universal solution to last-mile broadband wireless access (BWA) applications, according to market research specialist iSuppli Corp. (El Segundo, CA). In a study entitled "WiMAX for Wireless Broadband Access: The Good, The Hype, and The Opportunity." iSuppli predicts that revenue from worldwide sales of WiMAX base stations and customer-premise equipment (CPE) will achieve annual growth rates ranging from only 14 to 25 percent from 2004 through 2007, with the market only reaching a rapid-growth phase in 2008 and 2009 (when sales will rise by 47 and 66 percent, respectively). By 2009, the research firm sees the market swelling to $2.6 billion, and rising at a compound annual growth rate of 31.3 percent from $503 million in 2003.

The report notes that WiMAX will primarily serve niche markets and will not displace existing wired broadband technologies in the near term. In the residential and small-to-medium enterprise broadband-access markets, WiMAX will be a viable technology but will not replace existing technologies like xDSL and cable modems, especially in highly developed, urban areas. The first markets for WiMAX will be for broadband access in rural and underserved areas of developed markets and as a backhaul technology for cell sites and public hotspots for wireless local area networks (WLANs). The report indicates that the most significant market for WiMAX in the long term will be for mobile broadband applications.

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