AT&T Looking at WiMax for Video
WiMax vendors tell Unstrung that AT&T, which now also incorporates the Cingular brand, has been pushing the WiMAX Forum to start work on a so-called "wave three" mobile WiMax profile that would give it the fattest pipes yet seen from an 802.16-derived technology. A well placed industry source says that AT&T wants the profile to mandate a "four-by-four" smart antenna array to increase the speed and capacity available over compliant WiMax networks. By contrast, upcoming "Wave 2" WiMax products using the profile championed by Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) use a two-by-two antenna setup.
AT&T's capacity move suggests that it may be looking at using WiMax for IPTV and video streaming -- applications where the bigger the bandwidth, the better. The firm is certainly interested in the whole mobile TV universe, having signed a deal this week with Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM) to use that firm's MediaFlo wireless TV technology.
AT&T has previously tested out WiMax for enterprise users in Atlanta and New Jersey. Its M&A activities appear to have put technology tests on the backburner. (See AT&T Plots WiMax Trial .)
AT&T, however, could face one major problem in pushing a new WiMax profile. Vendors tell Unstrung that the upgrades could take a while to implement and even longer to ensure interoperability. One expert said an upgrade could reach well into 2010.
This means that the "Wave 3" profile would likely become available only a little while before the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE) 's new mobile WiMax specification is ready. (See Faster WiMax on the Way.)
A spokesman for AT&T had no comment on the WiMax rumors late Thursday.
— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung