The Future of WiMAX Is Bleak: Analyst

[qi:___wimax] The future of WiMAX is pretty bleak in developed countries and as a result, equipment makers aren’t likely to sustain their investments in the space, according to a note out today by research firm Analysys Mason. The note calls out Cisco (s CSCO) and Motorola (s MOT) specifically. Motorola said earlier this year that it would stop making new investments in WiMAX equipment (it told me a few months back that it still supported the equipment, but that the R&D phase of intense investment was now over). And although Cisco did land a big contract to provide gear for Clearwire, so far Huawei appears to be the biggest contender in the WiMAX equipment market.

But analyst Terry Norman writes that Huawei is also focusing on Long Term Evolution, the GSM version of a 4G wireless network, possibly because WiMAX is played out. He writes:

Ericsson’s purchase of Nortel’s interests in CDMA and LTE will encourage CDMA operators to shift to LTE, creating greater acceptance of LTE in North America. Huawei is strongly promoting LTE and has recently opened up a new LTE laboratory in Richardson, Texas, where operators can familiarise themselves with the technology.

WiMAX, while a first mover when it came to delivering an all-IP network, had problems getting traction in developed countries because there wasn’t spectrum available for it. Now Norman argues that it’s too late for WiMAX in the developed world, as LTE deployments are only a few years away. Plus, he writes that from a technology perspective, LTE has caught up to WiMAX.  This leaves the developing world as WiMAX’s domain. And it leaves Clearwire (s clwr), which is building a WiMAX network, the odd operator out in the U.S.