AT&T Eyes Wireless Broadband

The CTO of AT&T Corp. (NYSE: T) sees WiMax -- and other wireless broadband technologies -- as a way for his company to lessen its dependence on incumbent local carriers and cut the cost of providing high-speed access.

“Wireless Internet will be big,” proclaimed Hossein Eslambolchi, tech head at the wireline giant, speaking at Light Reading's “Opportunities Amid the Chaos” conference in New York today. "And I’m not talking about 3G, which I don’t consider true broadband wireless. I’m talking 40 Mbit/s or higher.”

According to Eslambolchi, a massive increase in mobile data rates will be achieved if Moore’s Law -- which states that the computing power of microprocessors will double every 18 months -- works its magic in the wireless sphere for the next decade. “I believe the new wireless technologies, such as 802.16 [a.k.a. WiMax] and 802.20, coming down the road, will drive that 40-Mbit/s capability."

The combination of wireless- and packet-based networks will make mobility one of the "huge, new killer apps,” he added. “With IP it doesn’t matter where you are -- we’re seeing the death of locality.” [Ed. note: Eeeeek!]

This sudden interest in wireless from one of the world’s top wire-heads, isn’t just bandwagon hopping, however. The more prosaic explanation relates to the $9.5 billion that AT&T pays out each year in access costs -- leasing lines off of RBOCs and all that fun stuff.

“This is high-octane profit for the RBOCs, and I don’t like that. I’m looking for access technologies to innovate around and to bypass the RBOCs... 802.16 and 802.20 are weapons to go after them, although clearly the technology isn’t mature yet.”

— Gabriel Brown, Chief Analyst, Unstrung Insider

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