WiMAX, one of the possible futuristic solutions for super-fast wireless connectivity, could have 103 million subscribers by 2013.

According to Informa Telecoms & Media, the format has quickly gained traction, especially in areas such as India and the like.

"In many major emerging markets all the pieces are falling into place for WiMAX, including availability of spectrum, huge pent-up demand for broadband, certification of Mobile WiMAX equipment, and the arrival of new lower-cost devices such as ultra-portable notebooks and netbooks," says Mike Roberts, principal analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media.

"For example our forecasts show that WiMAX will account for 24% of India's total broadband subscribers by 2013, up from 7% in 2008."

However, the future still looks far from uncertain, according to Informa, with the prominence of HSDPA and the emergence of Long Term Evolution (LTE) providing strong competition.

Dramatic changes

"The converging broadband market has changed dramatically in the last year due to the rise of HSDPA and the acceleration of LTE," says Roberts.

"There's no doubt that Mobile WiMAX has come of age in the last year with the launch of major new services... but it now faces a tough fight with HSDPA and eventually LTE in key markets. As a result, many WiMAX vendors and operators need to reshape their strategies."

With the credit crunch now fully upon many regions of the world, this could also slow the penetration of WiMAX in the near future, making it harder for operators to secure funding for new deployments.

However, one of the main strengths for WiMAX is the early start it has in the market... LTE is still years away from launching and WiMAX handsets are already appearing in the wild.

"The result is that WiMAX will be the leading next-generation mobile broadband system in 2013, with significantly more subscribers than LTE," Roberts says.