CHICAGO -- Fred Wright, senior vice president of Motorola's broadband business, took the stage this morning and reflected on WiMax World's growth.
Wright was one of the early participants in the conference, now holding its fourth annual session.
He said there were 500 attendees and a handful of exhibitors in 2004, and this year the number has soared to more than 8,000.
The show's growth mirrors the huge opportunity in front of them, Wright said. He shared statistics that said only 2 percent, or about 5 million people, were using wireless broadband in 2006. By 2010, that number is supposed to go up to as many as 73 million.
Yankee Group Analyst Berge Ayvazian gave an industry update prior to the keynotes this morning. He said that there are more than 275 WiMax trials going on worldwide in 65 countries. Of those trials, 75 are actually commercial services offering fixed and nomadic wireless broadband.
A lot of those trials and deployments are in Europe, Latin America and the Middle East and India.
There's also a handful in the U.S. I write a lot about Clearwire's efforts, which have extended to services in more than 30 U.S. cities, and about Sprint Nextel, which is expected to launch its Xohm service in a handful of markets as soon as December.
But there are others as well. DigitalBridge is serving small towns in Idaho and Montana, and Horizon Wi-Com is rolling out services in the Northeast, where Verizon's territory has traditionally been located.
Overall, there's a lot of talk about two emerging markets.
In Third World markets, WiMax is attempting to bring phone and Internet access to a lot of communities for the first time. The wireless technology is proving to be much easier to deploy than traditional wireline services.
In the U.S., the market is about creating new competition and giving people mobility. It's about untethering the Internet to create a whole new set of applications as people's lives become more focused around multimedia, social networks and other applications.
Next up are keynotes by Intel and Sprint Nextel.