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May 31, 2005

WiMax Naysayers

By Nancy Gohring

eWeek did a really nice job looking at the negative side of WiMax: It’s worth a read. Kudos to the writer who, despite some mistakes, managed to get a slew of people on the record expressing their doubts about WiMax. That’s a tough accomplishment these days—most of the people in the industry who I talk to are largely WiMax cheerleaders.

Still, I’m not sure I’d characterize the attitude from vendors as “lukewarm commitment.” While it’s true that not all the members of the WiMax Forum have actually produced products, there is definitely a healthy ecosystem of vendors working on products.

This article shows that there is still plenty of confusion in the market about WiMax, primarily on two fronts. One is, I am constantly reading stories that say that WiMax is designed to either work on unlicensed or licensed bands. Here, the article initially notes that WiMax is designed for licensed spectrum, making it contingent on the telecom operators. But later the article mentions unlicensed bands. The fact is, WiMax can be built to work across a wide range of unlicensed and licensed frequencies. The Forum has initially identified three bands for official WiMax gear and those bands include both licensed and unlicensed.

Secondly, I think that the Forum really needs to work at defining where WiMax fits in the market among the cellular networks and other wireless technologies like Wi-Fi. It’s not clear that the Forum has a position on that and frankly I haven’t heard a satisfactory description of a future landscape that includes WiMax plus all the other broadband wireless technologies like 3G. Usually, I just find vendors pretty much avoiding my questions of how WiMax fits with 3G.
“Even though the WiMax Forum doesn’t really want to say that WiMax is a competitor to 3G, they all do overlap to some degree,” said Lindsay Schroth, an analyst with the Yankee Group. But 3G is a pretty powerful force in the worldwide market so the Forum is likely not terribly interested in pitting WiMax directly against 3G. But unless the Forum can define WiMax’s position in the market, everyone is going to approach it cautiously.

Posted by nancyg at May 31, 2005 5:38 PM

Categories: competitive landscape

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