Initiatives to provide mobile multimedia and convergence services are rolling out after years of development.
The big winners undoubtedly are consumers and businesses. The dynamics shape up perfectly: There are a large and growing number of compelling multimedia and convergence-based applications, each of which needs the widest possible exposure at the lowest price point. These are to be delivered on two new and largely parallel delivery networks: wireless (which includes WiMax, Wi-Fi and related approaches) and 3.5G/4G cellular.
Things should get interesting during the next few months. The Echostar/DIRECTV consortium dropped out of the Federal Communications Commission's advanced wireless spectrum auction. Word is that the companies -- the two biggest DBS players -- may partner with WiMax provider Clearwire to develop much-needed data capabilities. Clearwire may supplement its footprint with cellular capacity gained through a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) deal.
If you think the Clearwire/DBS flirtation is unimportant, consider that the two main players involved are Rupert Murdoch (who controls DirecTv) and Craig McCaw (who heads Clearwire). These are gentlemen who don't spend a lot of time tilting at windmills.
Moreover, it's not even the most important news item on the cellular/wireless front. That spot is reserved for Sprint Nextel, which says that it will use WiMax to provide its 4G services.
The interplay of WiMax and 3.5G/4G cellular is a complex topic because they are two platform families that do much the same thing. There will be enough partner-changing and alliance-shifting to satisfy a soap opera fan.
Confusing? Yes. And it's a good confusion, since the evolution of the two platforms at roughly the same time will lead to lower costs and better service.