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Yota is busy these days. The first Russian service provider to deploy a mobile WiMAX network, Yota has signed up over 350,000 customers in the six months since its commercial launch in June 2009.

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As WiMAX operators deploy new networks or expand existing ones, they face multiple choices in the selection of base station equipment. How can WiMAX operators choose the hardware solution that is most cost effective and has the faster return on investment (ROI)?

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See our latest article on Fierce Wireless here or read on.

Mobile data plans have started to evolve. U.S. mobile operators, under pressure from exploding traffic volume in their networks and grappling with network congestion, have recently announced new service pricing for voice and data.

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WiMAX is only available for licensed bands (2.3 GHz, 2.5 GHz, 3.5 GHz and others in the future) for which a certification program has been defined by the WiMAX Forum. What if an operator wants to use the same core technology (the IEEE 802.16 standard is defined for any spectrum band up to 6 GHz) in an unlicensed band such as the 5 GHz band or the US 3.65 GHz ones? Of course the equipment will not be certified, but it can still provide the functionality and performance of WiMAX technology.

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Yota is probably the fastest growing WiMAX operator today. A few months after launch, it has reached the 200,000 subscriber mark in early October, and has become EBIDTA positive.

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At the ITU show in Geneva last week, there was a lot of talk on IMT-advanced technologies as expected. At this point, both WiMAX and LTE are obvious candidates for inclusion. The timing is still uncertain, but inclusion seems to be uncontroversial for both technologies.

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Often operators do not want to disclose too much about what they do. But one topic that is guaranteed to get even the most guarded operators to open up is the price of end-user devices.

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Much of the attention on WiMAX interoperability has focused on subscriber devices. This is clearly a top priority for WiMAX operators and vendors as it enables subscribers to buy a WiMAX device and register it on the network without having to even talk to a service representative.

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Devices play an essential role in defining the operator’s brand, and in attracting and keeping customers. In the cellular world, operators leverage devices to keep control over subscribers and, at the same time, as the main channel to the subscribers, have used their power to steer product development of vendors to fit their own preferences.

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As the deadline for broadband stimulus grant applications approaches (August 14th), wireless and wireline operators are evaluating whether to apply or not. One consideration is whether they can meet the deadline—will they have a sustainable plan that they feel comfortable with?

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