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Report: Low Cost Will Spur WiMAX Assault On 3G

Much of the coming war between 3G and WiMAX will be fought on spectrum battlefields and it's becoming clear that WiMAX will have a major advantage based on the very low cost of its spectrum, according to a new study by market research firm Maravedis, which specializes in broadband wireless analysis.

In an interview Wednesday, Adlane Fellah, senior analyst, noted that 3G currently has an edge over WiMAX, because it has a significant head start in the market. But, he added, "The low cost of WiMAX spectrum compared to 3G is a clear driver for service providers to enter the field of wireless services with WiMAX."

The situation is particularly acute in Europe where average 3G spectrum cost per Hz is 1,000 times higher than WiMAX spectrum, Maravedis reports. Even so, with 394 WiMAX licenses, North American providers have more than double the number of licenses than Europe.

Fellah noted that U.S. deployments are underway in small fits and starts with the most prominent so far being BellSouth's pioneering rollout of WiMAX. The largest holder of WiMAX-capable spectrum is Sprint/Nextel, which also is a major player in the 3G market.

"For the WiMAX market to really take off, you need Sprint/Nextel to start deploying," said Fellah. "They could use a combination of bands to provide different services."

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