Optical/IP Networks

AT&T Mulls More WiMax in Palin Country

It looks as if Sarah Palin isn't the only thing that will get to stay in Alaska in 2009.

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) tells Unstrung that it might launch more WiMax sites in the Frozen North, but notes that WiMax isn't a "primary focus" for delivering fixed wireless broadband services in the rest of the U.S.

Back in August, AT&T's CTO said WiMax was a "top candidate" as an alternative to copper for delivering wireless broadband to rural areas. (See AT&T: WiMax Is Top Candidate for Rural Broadband and AT&T WiMax Heading South?)

But an AT&T spokeswoman said on Tuesday that the carrier is largely satisfied with its existing mix of wired and wireless technologies, though she added that WiMax could still be useful in some hard-to-wire rural areas.

"We’re currently reviewing the possibility of additional sites in Alaska," the spokeswoman told Unstrung via email. "We may have more to announce in the coming months."

She added: "WiMax is currently not a primary focus, but our trials and deployments to date have shown that WiMax does have potential as an alternative for delivery of fixed broadband service. WiMax is well-suited for deployment in challenging environments like Alaska, where landline-based solutions may not always be practical."

AT&T currently has a fixed WiMax deployment in Juneau, Alaska, using 2.3 GHz equipment from Alvarion Technologies Ltd. (Nasdaq: ALVR). It also has 22 2.3 GHz licenses covering some Southern states, but that doesn't necessarily mean AT&T will launch WiMax services below the Mason-Dixon line. (See AT&T: Broadband in Alaska.)

"In our local service territory elsewhere in the U.S., we’ve trialed WiMax in a range of locations to test various solutions under a variety of environments," wrote the spokeswoman. "In most situations, though, we’re able to provide a range of broadband options, including U-verse, DSL, satellite, and 3G wireless services, to meet customer needs."

There is also less pressure on operators now to find an "alternative to copper" than there was in the summer. The economic downturn has started to lower the price of many commodities, including copper.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

wap545 12/5/2012 | 3:27:13 PM
re: AT&T Mulls More WiMax in Palin Country The subject of AT&T and WiMAX keeps coming up without any following this up.
We need to keep in mind that now that Verizon Wireless is top dog in Cell Nets and will lead in deploying 700Mhz LTE (4G) Services, AT&T needs a better solution then HSPA PLus for the next 3-5 years.
What they need is a serious network that can handle the new demands by consumers for delivery of high speed/HD level data/video and new IP type services via a network with low latency,serious QoS and increased symmetrical like (upload capable)Networks. The 3G and 3GPlus systems they are counting on will struggle.
They also have a variety of very interesting spectrum (700Mhz and AWS)they can use to deploy a parallel Data/Video network, based on WiMAX features which they are familair with, with new dual (or Triple)Mode Access sets(USPA/WiMAX/WiFi). This would free their GSM network to focus on delivering the best Voice Service in the market and allowing their subscribers of the GSM network to gain access to the new Data/Video net as well. This would also allow them to counter any VZW data services early.
When you combine their new Wayport Network(Hotspot-WiFi) purchase, with a WiMAX (Fixed and Mobile) data/video net and their Cell VOice net you have a good start.
AT&T's only worry is VZW and they will focus on winning there first.

Jim A.
El Rupester 12/5/2012 | 3:26:41 PM
re: AT&T Mulls More WiMax in Palin Country Jacamo

I really don't agree.

HSPA and HSPA+ are actually pretty good and benefit from huge eco-system & economies of scale: sexy handsets with long battery life, low prices and decent data rates.

In contrast Verizon will spend the next three years in the same mode Sprint has been with WiMAX: "it'll be great, honest... just believe us... please". All the while ATT will be selling services on a network that already works, and gaining share...

LTE is a bit better than WiMAX is a bit better than HSPA+ - in the lab. Just like IS95 was "better" than GSM... But in the real world, that doesn't matter so much.

Verizon and Sprint are between a rock and a hard place with cdma2000 hitting the end of its roadmap. In contrast, ATT benefits from the volumes of the whole HSPA world, and can relax. Given financial markets the last thing they will do will be to start another different network: splitting networks, capex, customers for no real gains would be suicidal.
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