Clearwire eyes WIMAX operator stake in Taiwan

Clearwire eyes WIMAX operator stake in Taiwan

Clearwire is reportedly in talks with Global Mobile, one of six mobile WiMAX licensees in Taiwan, to strike up a strategic alliance. This may result in the US WiMAX operator taking an equity stake in Global Mobile, which is planning to increase its current level of registered capital (NT$1.13bn) by NT$1bn-1.9bn to help fund its WiMAX infrastructure rollout.

Although the six 2.5GHz WIMAX licences in Taiwan were awarded in July 2007 – three for the northern part of the island and three for the southern part – none has yet managed to launch commercial service. Lack of funding, combined with the economic downturn, has been the main reason for the delay.

Tatung InfoComm looks like it will be the first out of the WiMAX traps in Taiwan. Holding a licence for some counties in the southern region of Taiwan, the company, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Taiwanese conglomerate Tatung, says it will start commercial WiMAX service on the Penghu Islands on 27th April.

VMAX, buoyed by an investment commitment of NT$386m from Intel Capital in October 2008 – and whose licence covers a northern province – says it is on course to launch commercial WiMAX service in either Q2 or Q3 this year.

But Far EasTone, another Taiwanese WiMAX licence holder and the island’s third biggest mobile operator in terms of subscribers, announced last month it would take nearly a year before its commercial WIMAX service would see the light of day. “We are going to push out WiMAX on a commercial basis by the fourth quarter of this year, but will begin construction of the networks sometime soon,” Far EasTone president Jan Nilsson said in a statement at the time.

Motorola looks well positioned with Far EasTone. This week the mobile operator, whose WiMAX licence covers a southern province, announced that the US supplier had been awarded additional contracts to expand FarEastone’s WiMAX network in Taichung.

Motorola is to deploy its WAP access point portfolio, WiMAX base stations and to integrate the CSN (Connectivity Service Network), which includes AAA (authentication, authorisation and accounting) and HA (home agent) capability, which provides functions such as access control and billing.

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