Cisco CTO Whips WiMax
Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) CTO Charles Giancarlo took a few swings at WiMax, the wireless broadband networking technology also known as IEEE 802.16, yesterday during his brief keynote address at the Next Generation Networks conference in Boston.
"Other than providing the backbone infrastructure that may be behind any WiMax deployment, Cisco is not invested in WiMax," says Giancarlo. "DSL and cable are [already] there, and they are much more deterministic."
Giancarlo says third-generation wireless technology will already be deployed by the time WiMax hits the streets, and he doesn't see service providers spending on both: "Why would anyone build two parallel [wireless broadband] networks? Perhaps it will provide a better technology for hotspots like airports, but I still maintain that the case for WiMax is challenging at the moment."
Several attendees here agreed with Giancarlo's point that WiMax won't be driven by home networking. "I agree that home networking is not the compelling application for WiMax," says Weiyee In, global technology strategist for TerraNova Institutional, a Chicago-based brokerage. "Its compelling application is to be the wireless metro-area network. What Intel has done with notebooks and WiFi -- they are going to do the same with WiMax." (See WiMax: Last Mile Smiles and WiMax: How Far? How Fast?.)
While whipping on WiMax, Giancarlo reminded the audience that many wireless technologies have come and gone over the years without finding success. "This is what went wrong with MMDS [multichannel multipoint distribution system] and LMDS [local multipoint distribution system], too, if you all remember that. The economics became very bad very quickly."
Giancarlo says that Cisco sees ultrawideband as a more attractive wireless technology, noting that Cisco invests where it sees the most promise (see UWB: From the Lab to Your Pad). "We had an investment in an ultrawideband startup." While Giancarlo did not name the company he referred to, Cisco did invest in XtremeSpectrum Inc., which Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) purchased a year ago. That company spent several years working in concert with Cisco lobbying for the UWB standard.
"Ultrawideband may find application in the office, for something like a personal-area network, possibly there," Giancarlo says. "And possibly for the very short haul, like between components in a rack."
Later in his remarks, Giancarlo gave broadband-over-power-lines (BPL) a whack as well (see Powerline Ethernet Gets the Nod). "As far as these HomePlug and PowerLine products, Cisco has had them available for two years. And we've still got plenty of inventory."
He says power companies have a great deal of work to do before the power grid could be a viable means of residential broadband deployment. "We have to find a way to deal with getting it through the transformers and other power conditioning equipment...
"This has been a non-market. Consumers are not responding to it." — Gale Morrison, special to Light Reading