WiMax Makes Its Long Awaited Debut - InformationWeek

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Commentary
9/29/2008
03:25 PM
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WiMax Makes Its Long Awaited Debut

WiMax has resembled the networking industrys next budding princess. While a great deal of talk has centered on when the technology would debut, much of it has been shrouded in secrecy and duplicity. Well, for some lucky few businesses, the wait is finally over.

WiMax has resembled the networking industrys next budding princess. While a great deal of talk has centered on when the technology would debut, much of it has been shrouded in secrecy and duplicity. Well, for some lucky few businesses, the wait is finally over.Sprint, which has been the only major US wireless carrier taking a significant stake in WiMax, has rolled out services to small and medium businesses in Baltimore. With the carriers XOHM mobile broadband service, users receive from 2M bps to 4M bps of data bandwidth with prices starting at about $25 a month. In addition, the customers will need to outfit their PCs with WiMax compatible gear. Samsung and ZyXel can supply the necessary hardware, with a one time charge ranging from about $60 to $80. So, WiMax looks like a relatively inexpensive wireless, broadband networking option. This alternative was devised several years ago as THE solution to wireless WAN service providers needs. In many cases, their networks did not offer sufficient bandwidth to support complex applications, such as video. WiMax has experienced a slow, tedious climb out from the development lab to carrier networks. In reality, it is still in pilot rather than production mode  anyone located outside of Baltimore cannot buy these services. Meanwhile, alternatives, such as 4G cellular and WAN Wi-Fi, have emerged as high bandwidth alternatives. These options are more widely available, provide a more seamless migration path for existing customers, and have better established ecosystems than WiMax. A customer base and an ecosystem are items that the WiMax proponents now need to develop. Sprint has bet heavily on WiMax to fuel its future growth. The services in Baltimore represent a step to meeting that dream, but the company will need to more (much more) quickly before WiMax will emerge as a viable wireless broadband networking option for small and medium businesses.

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