Mobile WiMAX take-up boosted by falling chipset prices

Falling WiMAX chipset prices could be critical for inclusion of the technology in smaller mobile devices

Despite being in a state of relative immaturity, heavy competition and greater integration in design are driving down mobile WiMAX chipset average selling prices (ASPs) according to a new survey from ABI Research.

The market analyst regards the WiMAX chipset market as advancing quickly with the industry offering solid 2-chip designs consisting of a single-chip baseband IC and a single-chip RF IC that are bringing power consumption down. Three companies—Beceem, GCT Semiconductor, and Sequans—already offer single-chip designs that include both the baseband and RF. But, most importantly, WiMAX chipset ASPs are dropping rapidly.

"Even as the mobile WiMAX chipset market has barely gotten its feet wet, chipset ASPs are declining rapidly due to heavy competition and greater integration in designs," explained ABI Research principal analyst Philip Solis. "Prices for the baseband and RF components of the chipset have come down from the $35 range a few years ago to below $25, and will drop below $10 in 2011. These falling WiMAX chipset prices are critical for inclusion of the technology in smaller mobile devices."

Even when global subscriber numbers reach the high tens of millions, ABI Research expects chipset shipments to be well into the hundreds of millions. Many devices will likely include WiMAX capabilities well before users subscribe to WiMAX-based service plans, and some consumers may never utilise the WiMAX capabilities included in their equipment, as more devices start to include other wireless wide-area network connectivity features. In addition, ABI Research predicts that some WiMAX subscribers will have multiple WiMAX-enabled devices on one subscription plan.

"WiMAX will look a bit like Wi-Fi in terms of rapid ASP declines and moves towards 100% penetration in laptops," continued Solis. "Expansion into various mobile devices including Mobile Internet Devices and consumer electronics will be critical to the growth of the WiMAX chipset market."

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