Just a little over a year ago, most people thought the United States would only see deployments of fixed WiMAX in rural areas with no DSL or cable modem service. During the summer of 2006, however, those who did not see the bigger picture got a reality check. In July, Clearwire made a firm commitment to shift its proprietary network to mobile WiMAX, receiving investments from Intel and Motorola. Shortly afterward, Sprint Nextel announced its plans to deploy mobile WiMAX to make use of its extensive 2.5 GHz spectrum, becoming the first major mobile operator to commit to WiMAX.

“Today, we are watching major strategic alliances, partnerships and mergers starting to take place,” said ABI Research principal analyst Philip Solis. “DirecTV and EchoStar announced a partnership with Clearwire, allowing Clearwire to bundle broadcast video and – when its network is deployed – provide the DBS companies with a fast, low-latency pipe into the home.”

Sprint and Clearwire will at least form a roaming arrangement, if not actually merge in some form. NextWave also has a lot of WiMAX-friendly spectrum, and its NextWave Broadband subsidiary will be selling mobile WiMAX chipsets, helping to enable more WiMAX devices faster, thus increasing the value of the spectrum it holds. In addition, there are many wireless ISPs looking to deploy mobile WiMAX. Horizon Wi-Com, for example, holds 2.3 GHz spectrum that it acquired from Verizon across much of the Northeast.

These market trends and more are discussed in a new ABI research brief, “Mobile WiMAX in the United States1,” which provides detailed analysis of these service providers’ past and present efforts, and future directions. It is included in ABI Research’s Mobile Broadband Research Service2, which also contains other research briefs, full-length research reports, market data, ABI insights and analyst inquiry support.