WiMax's bright future and five hurdles to overcome

Doubters question pricing, usage model

5. How does WiMax compare with the competition?

Ultimately, the fifth obstacle concerns competition and which of the WiMax providers will win with it compared with alternative technologies backed by other vendors.

On the network equipment side, Motorola, Intel and Nokia might seem to have a lead with their connections to Xohm. However, Nortel Networks, which did not win a role as a WiMax equipment provider for Xohm, still sees a big market for WiMax gear and has several deployments under way. WiMax World also featured dozens of small vendors offering WiMax components. These included full-blown systems with antennas, gateways, client chip sets and software supporting it all.

The real unanswered questions are how well Xohm can do in the next two years before Verizon Wireless and Vodafone begin work on a pathway to Long-Term Evolution technology for broadband wireless, Ayvazian said. LTE, in some fundamental ways, is similar to WiMax, he noted, since both technologies rely on multiple-input, multiple-output (MIMO) antennas and orthogonal frequency modulation to send signals.

In another competitive comparison, AT&T has already begun rolling out its BroadBandConnect 3G network operating on GSM with the world's first use of High-Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) technology. AT&T advertises the average downlink speeds in the range of 400Kbit/sec. to 700Kbit/sec., but the potential of such networks is theoretically more than 14Mbit/sec., Redman said. Still, he bet that HSDPA might run only as fast as WiMax in real-world networks.

Redman noted there is less latency, or delay, with WiMax technology, which enhances its usage for voice technology. WiMax also uses the available spectrum more efficiently, a factor that will matter to the carriers providing the networks and to end users.

However, as with many radio technologies, there are many variables that affect what an end user can accomplish wirelessly, including the efficiency of the client device he carries, Mathias noted. In a WiMax network, West said many channels could be added to an antenna in crowded zones to bump up performance for a client device. However, in a separate interview, Mathias retorted, "Sure, but what happens when you add many, many more users?"

In addition, Sprint Nextel, in collaboration with Clearwire, has control of licenses in the 2.5-GHz spectrum in the U.S. for WiMax. That control is what some experts see as a clearcut advantage over any carrier seeking to enter the WiMax market there.

Given spectrum licensing and competing broadband technologies, Redman predicted late in 2006 that in 2011, there will be fewer than 10 international wireless operators deploying WiMax.

However, Ayvazian said the events and enthusiasm of WiMax World helped accelerate Yankee Group's latest prediction of users for WiMax. The last projection of 7 million to 8 million WiMax subscribers in the U.S. for 2011 and 27 million subscribers worldwide should be moved to a year earlier, he said, to take into account Sprint's partnerships with Clearwire and Google.

"We're at the inflection point of how this market's going to jump forward," he said.

It's obvious that there are many questions, obstacles and potential obstacles for WiMax. Yet there is so much promise that while analysts are unwilling to be too optimistic, they aren't too pessimistic in predicting how successful it will be.

How well Xohm performs in its first markets in Baltimore/Washington and Chicago in December should answer many questions.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Matt Hamblen

Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?