The WiMax World Takes Shape

Carl Weinschenk

A spate of recent reports -- in Unstrung, Wireless Week, DigiTimes and at Strategy Analytics -- paint a varied picture of the progress being made in the WiMax sector. The question, it seems, still is when WiMax will happen, not if. But the picture is by no means totally upbeat.


Most insiders think that WiMax and 3G will duke it out for top spot in the wireless broadband realm. Both are making their moves. 3G is being deployed widely by cellular companies, and WiMax is close behind. The WirelessWeek piece cites TeleGeography Research assessments that there are more than 200 WiMax projects around the globe either planned, in trials or launched. Unstrung, in a report on the CTIA show in Orlando, Fla., takes a vendor-level view. And the reality is that there clearly are a lot of manufacturers from big guns such as Motorola and Siemens to small component producers in the fray.


Other reports, however, ran counter to that trend. The Digit Times piece suggests that WiMax momentum is slowing. Specifically, the piece pointed out that Ericsson has suspended its WiMax program in favor of 3G, and Sprint Nextel may be reining in its big project. Strategy Analytics is taking a cautious approach in assessing initial public offerings by Towerstream and Clearwire.


Regardless of any hiccup that may be occurring, it's clear that WiMax's throughput and range will make it a significant player in the wireless telecom sector. The reality is that all new technologies enter the marketplace in fits and starts. This will be no different. In the case of WiMax, there really are two technologies -- fixed and mobile -- that are moving forward in unison. While it's assumed that WiMax will become a major service provider tool, it appears that the precise speed of the rollout will depend upon the Sprint Nextel rollout, which is clearly the highest profile in the United States and one of the most important in the world.

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