Wimax subscribers among 214 operators tracked in 4GCounts (www.4GCounts.com) reached seven million in Q1. North America had about a 30% share, followed by Asia Pacific with 27.5%. We expect the Wimax subscriber base to touch eight million in Q2 2010 with Asia Pacific emering with the highest market share.
Pacific Packet One Networks (P1) in Malaysia and UQ Communications in Japan continue to show a strong Wimax subscriber uptake. P1 ended Q1 with 175,000 subscribers. This is 16.7% above the company's own target for the quarter. UQ Communications more than doubled its Wimax subs from 63,600 at the end of last year to 150,300 in Q1.
Q1 2010 saw KT and SK Telecom increasing their WiBro budget. SK Telecom is planning to invest a total of $250 million over the next two years, of which $116.5 million is expected to be spent in 2010 alone.
On the other hand, KT has increased its investment budget for WiBro to $1.075 billion by the end of 2011 from a previous estimate of $986 million. It is believed that the revelation of the increased expenditure by KT and SKT follows notification from the country's telecom regulator, the Korea Communications Commission (KCC), that it is planning to award a "golden frequency band" (800 to 900 MHz) to a carrier that allocates bigger budgets for WiBro. As of Q1 KT had 311,000 WiBro subscribers while SK Telecom had 41,000.
Asia Pacific had the highest Wimax revenue during the period - some $318 million, which was almost 13% more than North America's $281 million. With P1 and UQ Communications showing strong Wimax subscriber growth, the Asia-Pacific region holds the best prospects for Wimax services in terms of the subscriber uptake and revenue generation. India is also expected to be one of the major growth drivers. The Wimax advocates are betting on the Indian operators to offer Wimax services after the BWA auction.