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

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opaqueoptics 12/5/2012 | 1:07:25 AM
re: Cisco CTO Whips WiMax I also agree. However FSO failed for another basic reason, precipitation and fog interrupted transmission.
jepovic 12/5/2012 | 1:07:25 AM
re: Cisco CTO Whips WiMax Ouch! But he's completely right, of course. LMDS failed, FSO failed, WiMax will fail.

WiFi was already rolling before Intel got on the train. They've done a neat job with the integration and marketing, but the technology was already a success.

WiMax has many advantages over previous generations of FWA, but it's still far behind FSO. Still, FSO has failed completely. Why? Because wireless point to point systems are inherently difficult to sell, deliver and operate. Because 98% of the customers already have enough wires to cover their needs, if they're willing to pay for it.
rjmcmahon 12/5/2012 | 1:07:23 AM
re: Cisco CTO Whips WiMax Unfortunately, not much truth is coming out of the incumbents in their efforts to prevent these community based broadband roll outs.

I forgot to add that when the public believes their dishonest propaganda that hurts much more than truth.
rjmcmahon 12/5/2012 | 1:07:23 AM
re: Cisco CTO Whips WiMax Another truth that hurts. It looks like the tricity fiber broadband effort failed in Tuesday's election.


Unfortunately, not much truth is coming out of the incumbents in their efforts to prevent these community based broadband roll outs.
dwdm2 12/5/2012 | 1:07:22 AM
re: Cisco CTO Whips WiMax "The concept behind TriCity Broadband is to build a locally owned and operated utility to serve the future of our communities... with NO TAXPAYER DOLLARS AT RISK!"

A laudable effort; are there more examples? Thanks to rjmcmahon for the posting.
dwdm2 12/5/2012 | 1:07:19 AM
re: Cisco CTO Whips WiMax The main question is what problem does BPL solve? Power lines have been around for decades. If BPL was such a viable technology, one would have seen more of it... I realize that in a limited way it may make a biz case, but on a broader sense, neither it solves the real problem nor it helps a real broadband (just my own opinion).
cyberhare 12/5/2012 | 1:07:19 AM
re: Cisco CTO Whips WiMax oh well, FCC approved BPL on Oct. 14th, does csco have any BPL products after Oct. 14th?

take a look at where BPL stands today:
strands555 12/5/2012 | 1:07:17 AM
re: Cisco CTO Whips WiMax re: take a look at where BPL stands today

If Ambient is your poster child for BPL, it isn't saying much:
For the six months ended 6/30/04, revenues fell from $100 thousand to $0. Net loss totaled $4.5 million, up from $1 million. Results reflect the absence of field trial and consulting fees earned and higher amortization of deferred financing costs.

How many sane power companies are willing to deploy proprietary gear from a barely-hanging-on bulletin-board penny stock company? That is a BIG risk factor. FCC "approval" is virtually irrelevant.
cyberhare 12/5/2012 | 1:07:10 AM
re: Cisco CTO Whips WiMax here's one more company for your reference on BPL potential:
cyberhare 12/5/2012 | 1:07:10 AM
re: Cisco CTO Whips WiMax oh...ambient is a development stage company, actually, they just finished a landmark project in NYC with Con Edison Electricity at the end of Oct.,04:

BPL will have its due market share, and ambient will have its due revenue in coming months/years. :)


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