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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cyberhare 12/5/2012 | 1:06:46 AM
re: Cisco CTO Whips WiMax When cisco speaks, the world is listening. So was I.

The death sentence on BPL by CSCO prompted me to spend this weekend going through all SEC filings of ABTG.ob, the only publicly traded pure play in PLC in USA.

Here's a brief summary of the romance between csco and abtg on BPL:
On Feb. 2, 2001, ABTG and CSCO signed an agreement that ABTG would invest $2mm to develope some router/coupler for BPL technology. The project would take 1 year. Following this timeline, I figured that the final products got to csco around Feb. 2002. Upon hindsight, clearly, those BPL products didn't work, so we are reading this "death sentence" on BPL from csco in this LR article.

What's of more interest is this: At the very same time when csco gave a "no" to abtg's technology in 2002, Con Edison, an electricity utility company stepped onto the plate, putting $35mm in ABTG(agreement signed on Feb. 7, 2002, $35mm injected on Sept. 30, 2002 for 2,684,000 shares). This capital injection wasn't an impulsive decision, but instead, came only after TWO year on-going experiment on PLC between Con Ed and ABTG.

Latest development shows this ED<==>ABTG partnership is bearing fruit as ABTG finished the 1st pilot project in NYC on Oct. 26th, 2004:

So, here I stood stunned: Con Ed, who invested $33mm in ABTG is telling us, "Yes, BPL, or PLC is working out!", while CSCO, who invested $0.00 in ABTG is telling us, "no, it's not working". Now, it's up to the readers to decide who has the final say. Or, better yet, in the months to come, as BPL rolls out, we'll know for sure who's right who's wrong on this PLC technology.
cyberhare 12/5/2012 | 1:06:44 AM
re: Cisco CTO Whips WiMax Con Ed invested $1.4mm for 35mm shares of ABTG.ob.
dwdm2 12/5/2012 | 1:06:43 AM
re: Cisco CTO Whips WiMax "So, here I stood stunned: Con Ed, who invested $33mm in ABTG is telling us, "Yes, BPL, or PLC is working out!", while CSCO, who invested $0.00 in ABTG is telling us, "no, it's not working"."

Obviously both ABTG and ConEd have vested interest to see BPL is accepted. In this arena, however, its pretty common to have a new technology evaluated by a third party for its functionality, reliability, etc. Hence, comments by CISCO is important. If ABTG don't agree, they can always have it evaluated by another 3rd party.

I agree with one thing that ultimately it is the end user who'll determine the fate of ABTG's BPL. So there is a room for prediction here: Will BPL die on first few sets of roll out failure? The answer is NO. They'll struggle for a while before giving up and/or being acquired and shelved. Will it become a Microsoft or CISCO? The answer is NO. As for its competitive advantage with other form of carriers: Will it kill cable, dsl? Again NO. If it can ever become competitive with cable and dsl, it'll have some added effect to hinder emergence of widespread fiber deployment. BUT, until fiber is available, people will have to keep paying higher and higher bills and suffer confused quagmire in the mess of "technology choices."
Argyll 12/5/2012 | 1:02:32 AM
re: Cisco CTO Whips WiMax People said wind turbines would never amount to anything, but now it's a thriving big industry, primarily due to recent advances in wind turbine technology. It has advanced almost as fast as the PC in the last decade or so.

It is now a viable technology with less than 1% of the market. If it gets more, the 10 or 20% it would like, it will be fine.

That is something that could happen with BPL.

Certainly localized BPL, over existing wiring in buildings, will be a viable technology. There are hundreds of buildings that already have this.
Plugtek 12/5/2012 | 1:00:37 AM
re: Cisco CTO Whips WiMax There is plenty of information on Broadband over Powerline Communications at:


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