Interesting -- and Mixed -- Days for WiMax


This news initially appeared earlier this month, but several reports this week-including this one at NewsFactor-reaffirm that Nokia has pulled the plug on the N810 Internet Tablet WiMax edition.


The story points out that the device was the only one available that could get WiMax service without accessories. That means that folks who want to use Clear or other WiMax providers must use external cards. Of course, the cancellation is not good news for the fledgling platform in general and Clear in particular. The service, which was commercially launched in early January in Portland, Ore., is owned by Sprint Nextel, Intel and others. Some early reaction to its performance -- the verdict is mixed -- is available from The Industry Standard.


Many experts suggest that WiMax's real value will be in rural areas parts of industrialized nations and in developing countries that lack wired infrastructures. This week, Libya Telecom and Technology said that it is launching a WiMax network in 18 cities. The network will be accessible to subscribers with properly equipped devices within 30 miles of a tower. The story says Africa is a prime target for WiMax, and that networks already exist in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria.


Tbere seems to be interest in WiMax, and its challenges, around the world. An Indian site, IT Examiner, says there is demand for WiMax in rural areas of the nation, while AsiaMedia reports that a Taiwanese license holder, Tatung InfoComm, is considering a second postponement of commercial services in the southern area of Penghu. The firm is considering the addition of six, seven or eight base stations to the 15 that already deployed. The new launch window is in March or April, the story says. Another provider, Vmax, which is 20 percent owned by Intel Capital, is considering a commercial launch in June or July in Taipei, with eventual expansion to Hsinchu and Taoyuan.


This is just a small sampling of the many nations using or interested in WiMax. The platform will not flourish if it is impossible to use devices on more than one network and in more than one country. This week, The WiMax Forum announced a program aimed at making it easier for carriers to establish vital roaming agreements. The Global Roaming Program, which was written with input from iPass, Verisign and others, offers technical specifications, a contract template, test plans and other resources.