The exit of Cisco from the WiMax radio sector does nothing to alter the perception that Long Term Evolution (LTE) will be the winner in, well, the long term.
As reported in a number of places, including Computerworld, Cisco is backing off from its strong advocacy for WIMax that saw it acquire Navini Networks in 2007. Navini, the story says, brought its WiMax radio access network (RAN) gear to Cisco. In the interim, as the story points out, LTE has made steady and methodical progress. The technology will be deployed by AT&T and Verizon Wireless. Indeed, the move away from WIMax may be interpreted as a sign that the Cisco has no desire to bite two hands that feed it.
This isn't, of course, good news for WiMax and the companies such as Intel that have labored long and hard to see it develop. But there is no suggestion that WiMax is going away. Clearwire, the largest WiMax player in the world, is a viable company that seems to be making good on its expansive expansion plans.
Intel says the next version of the technology-802.16m-will replace 802.16e and be ready for deployment in 2012, according to Network World. That seems like a long time in the future. In a sense, it should cheer WiMax supporters that the big thinkers-and big investors-are still thinking ahead. It is said that the new version will offer 170 megabits per second (Mbps) downloads and 90 Mbps upstream. Current WiMax speeds are 16 Mbps and 4 Mbps downstream and up, respectively. The story quotes an Intel executive as saying that there will be between 6 million and 10 million WiMax users worldwide.
The resiliency of the WiMax sector-regardless of its success vis a vis LTE-also is evident in announcements that it is creating niche relationships and these numbers from Infonetics Research. The firm said that the device and equipment market is up for the third consecutive quarter and that subscriber counts rose 75 percent last year. The release, which mentions Russian provider Yota and Japanese firm UQ in addition to Clearwire, offers seven bullet points which paint a positive picture. In a more anecdotal assessment of its health, VMAX Telecom has outfitted 1,000 taxis .
Technology is not an either/or game. The Cisco move clearly is not good news for WiMax, both in terms of image and because the vendor brings a lot to any table at which it choose to sit. It's also clear that WiMax will not be as big as LTE. All that said, however, it will is apparent that WiMax remains a significant wireless networking force.