UQ's Wimax 2 upgrade opens new possibilities

Tony Brown/Informa Telecoms & Media
20 Jul 2011

Having lived the first half of my adult life in the UK and the second half in Australia, it is little wonder that I have such a strong affinity with the underdog in a given situation, since both countries have cultures that root for the little guy to succeed over a bigger, stronger opponent.

It is hard not to carry this attitude across into my working life, and there has been no better example of this in recent years than my writing about the Asia Pacific mobile broadband market, in which I have covered the gradual decline of Intel-backed Wimax technology and the inexorable rise of LTE.

Of course, I have nothing against LTE as such; it is just that it has been really fun over the last couple of years to watch the Wimax guys land the odd counterpunch and give themselves a bit of hope that they might just stave off Armageddon after all.

That’s Tokyo calling

If you are looking for a regional Wimax champion, you don’t need to look much farther than KDDI-backed Japanese operator UQ Communications, which launched in July 2009 and within two years had more than 1 million subscriptions, and which expects to have 2 million by end-March.

Of course, even having reached the magic seven-figure subscription count, UQ remains a relatively small fish in the Japanese pond and a long way behind the big three operators – NTT DoCoMo, KDDI and Softbank – in the mobile broadband market. It even trails smaller player eMobile.

Nonetheless, UQ is not only offering faster downlink speeds than those offered by DoCoMo’s nascent LTE-based Xi service – which launched in December – but is setting its sights on launching 802.16m next-generation Wimax 2 services in 2013.

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