While industrialized nations are enamored with the potential of WiMax, the wireless wide-area broadband technology faces a major hurdle for its success in developing countries: WiMax usage generally requires a PC, and third world countries lack sufficient numbers of PCs.
As a result, cellular systems will upstage WiMax in developing countries, said market research firm Analysys in a report released at this week's ITU Telecom World 2006 show in Hong Kong.
For instance, PC penetration in Bulgaria is 6% and less than 2% in India. As a result, the low PC numbers will hamper WiMax deployment, the market research firm said. The low cost of cell phones will help the spread of mobile phone networks in developing countries, where citizens have low disposable incomes.
"Cellular voice services will be much more appealing to most people, particularly as handsets are available very cheaply," said Mark Heath, the co-author of the report.
At the same time, cellular service providers are aggressively deploying mobile phone infrastructures in developing markets. Analysys cited mobile penetration that rose from 9% to 24% in Pakistan in the past few months.