WiMAX subscribers up 75%, but Cisco decides to stop making WiMAX base stations, focus on packet core

WiMAX, the wireless standard that no one really takes seriously, and the butt of almost every joke at Mobile World Congress 2010, has 75% more users in 2009 compared to 2008 says Infonetics Research. Now “75% increase in subscribers” may make awesome headline material, but does 6.8 million subscribers, world wide, really mean anything in an industry that ships over 1 billion devices a year? Exactly.

It’s not a surprise then that Cisco told Fierce Wireless that they’re going to stop making WiMAX base stations. They’ve only been in the WiMAX base station business for 2 years anyway, after their purchase of Navini Networks for $330 million in Q3 2007. They’ve decided that they’re going to stick to the packet core portion of mobile wireless networks. The meat and potatoes. The reason they purchased Starent Networks for $2.9 billion in October 2009.

“After careful review, our mobility strategy is to focus on providing a radio-agnostic IP end-to-end mobile multimedia services network,” said Cisco spokeswoman Jennifer Buchhalter. “Cisco will continue to focus on the packet core and to also focus on investment in radio technologies such as femtocells and WiFi. As part of this decision, we have decided to discontinue designing and building new WiMAX base stations. We believe the best way for Cisco to serve our customers is by delivering value at the edge and the core of our customers’ networks.”

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