WiMAX wrap-up

Publié le par Jean Arnal

The WiMAX World USA in Chicago is the right occasion to look at the market and its future. As ever with new technologies, there were the “movers” that support it (almost unconditionally), the “followers” that cannot accept the idea to be laggards, and the “opponents”. In the first segment, we can name Intel, Sprint, Motorola, and few other smaller companies. In the follower camp, we can find most of operators, most of vendors, ready for “wait and see” or “in case of”. Very few opponents, however, Ericsson maintains HSDPA and LTE technologies are better suited to address future broadband demand then WiMAX. Up to now, Cisco was also an opponent, but it seems it will enter the WiMAX market sooner than later. The WiMAX market is of course driven by movers. Given its scale and its brand, the Sprint' s Xohm network is the WiMAX current flagship, but many trial deployments are under way elsewhere in the world. Demonstrations tend proving that mobile WiMAX is real and ready for commercial deployment. The consumer demand should mainly be for browsing the Web, making VoIP calls and streaming video. WiMAX infrastructure is quite available, even if challenges still exist in backhauling, regulation and in-building penetration. Prior to handset availability, WiMAX chipsets are crucial for the technology taking off. Motorola and Intel seem ahead; Motorola announced its own chipset with “controlled, application-centric architecture”—to support 3G and “4G” devices. Nortel also announced a WiMAX chip intended to serve a satellite-based air traffic control system for the FAA, as well as WiMAX PC Card. Wavesat and IBM are developing WiMAX chipsets 802.16e. So the handset (probably also compatible with WiFi and cellular) should be available next year. Nokia already has committed to jointly unveil devices with Intel chipsets. ALU and Kyocera will work together. Motorola would deliver its WIMAX handsets in 1H08. So, gradually, the WiMAX ecosystem is emerging. But the road will not be flat. Competing technologies are underway. HSDPA and LTE for the GSM world, or UMB for the CDMA world will not give up. Specifications are discussed or draft document are released, giving such technologies an horizon line of 2009-2010. Will the 2008-2010 window enough for WiMAX taking off? It is still a $1 question!

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