With all the red ink surrounding WiMAX broadband wireless advocates such as Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) and the revamped Clearwire (NASDAQ:CLWR), investors may get the impression that the fledgling technology platform is a big black hole from which no cash can escape. But there are companies making a good living off WiMAX, even at this early stage.

A recent market research report from Infonetics Research estimates that equipment providers Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE:ALU) and Motorola (NYSE:MOT) are dominating the mobile version of WiMAX network equipment, capturing two-thirds of that market in the second quarter of 2008. Scrappy Israeli small cap Alvarion (NASDAQ:ALVR) is taking home the largest slice of bacon for fixed versions of the WiMAX platform.

Don't assume that all of Motorola's handset ills are now solved, nor that gobs of cash flow will soon fill the pockets of AlcaLu and Alvarion shareholders. For the second quarter, the report estimated total WiMAX equipment revenue at $402 million, up 3% sequentially. That's not enough to get investors blindly hopping onto the WiMAX bandwagon, but it does suggest a few early leaders in what could be a big market.

Sprint Nextel and Clearwire are gearing up for the first official market launch of a mobile WiMAX network in the U.S. this month. Various setbacks in getting U.S. networks up to commercial status have spurred suppliers such as Ceragon Networks (NASDAQ:CRNT) and Nokia (NYSE:NOK) to look to Asia and other emerging markets for sales growth. While the U.S. is a potentially large and lucrative market, the real story for WiMAX success may occur overseas.

Investors should take notice, however, since this new market is starting to really heat up. If WiMAX ultimately adds little value compared to competing platforms, this sales surge for equipment vendors may be another passing blip. But should the open broadband wireless platform successfully provide better services at a lower cost, it could shake up the entire industry.

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Fool contributor Dave Mock still considers ice cream one of the world's all-time top inventions. Dave owns shares of Alcatel-Lucent and Motorola, and he's the author of The Qualcomm Equation. Ceragon Networks is a Hidden Gems selection. Sprint Nextel is an Inside Value pick. Alvarion is a Rule Breakers recommendation. The Fool's disclosure policy dominates its market for forthrightness and honesty.