ITU, Taiwan and Sprint Hand WiMax Some Needed Good News

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As the World Radiocommunication Conference launches in Geneva, WiMax proponents were given reason to cheer; the wireless technology was named by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) as a member of the International Mobile Telecommunications-2000 (IMT-2000) family.


This may seem like an obscure designation, but it could have a significant positive effect for WiMax, which has not had a good autumn. Inclusion of the technology in the portfolio, according to this Unstrung story, will allow it to be used in markets where only IMT-2000 platforms are permissible. In general, it will encourage use of the platform as a basis for 4G.


It certainly helps build momentum and leads to greater volume and lower costs. The RCRWireless News report says the existing IMT-2000 platforms are Code Division Multiple Access 2000; Wideband-Code Division Multiple Access; Universal Wireless Communications-136; Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications; and Time Division -- Synchronous Code Division Multiple Access (respectively, CDMA2000, W-CDMA, UWC-136, DECT and TD-SCMDA). Clearly, other members of the family have been successful.


Another piece of good news with an international flavor: This week, Taiwan pledged to invest $664 million over the next five years in WiMax. Companies involved in the nation's deployment are Motorola, Alcatel-Lucent, Sprint, Starent Networks and Nokia. The story says the government awarded five licenses in July. The international nature of development -- and that Taiwan is important in the worldwide development of WiMax -- is a theme of the story.


This all is happening in the shadow of the ongoing Sprint drama -- and there even is a slim piece of positive WiMax news on that front. Earlier this month, the CEO, who clearly was pushing WiMax the hardest among big carriers, lost his job. The general feeling is that at least part of the reason he was shown the door was that investors and analysts were leery of the company's investment in the technology. The common wisdom -- which, whether true or not, is a big factor in creating or chilling momentum -- is that new management will reassess the big commitment to WiMax.


That may not happen immediately, however. At the end of this Q&A in the The Washington Post, interim CEO Paul Saleh said the company will go ahead with plans to roll out WiMax in Chicago, Baltimore and Washington, D.C. by the end of the year. Saleh called WiMax "a cornerstone to our future." How long that cornerstone stays in place remains a big question mark.