Cisco Reconsiders WiMax

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) is now looking at the prospects of several of its networking divisions introducing WiMax products, according to industry sources, reversing a sometimes combative stance on the emerging wireless technology from the company.

"The wireless, cable, and Linksys groups are all looking at WiMax," a source tells Unstrung. "These have different motivations and different products."

Cisco will face the eternal conundrum that it always faces when entering a new wireless market, the source adds: "The question will be, do these internal groups do the work... or who will they buy?" Another source, however, says at least some of the development is internal and the company is already working on WiMax. This could result in additional WiMax capabilities for its municipal networking offerings.

In the past, WiMAX Forum member Cisco has pooh-poohed the technology's chances of success as a wide-area wireless access technology. Most notably, when CTO Charlie Giancarlo said the business case for WiMax was "not compelling" in November 2004. The firm has softened its stance a little since then but still has a white paper on its site explaining why it won't build WiMax base stations. (See Cisco CTO Whips WiMax and Cisco Weighs WiMax.)

The company's official stance on WiMax is still fairly muted. "Cisco always looks at different wireless technologies," allows Ben Gibson, director of mobility solutions marketing at the firm, but he adds: "WiMax is certainly not nearly as far along in the market as wireless LAN."

Cisco, however, would by no means be the only major networking company to change its position on WiMax as the market evolves. Just recently, Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM) bought into mobile WiMax, while Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) decided to get out of the market and concentrate on cellular 4G updates. (See Ericsson Pulls WiMax Plug and Qualcomm Buys Into Mobile WiMax.)

Certainly there is more support for WiMax from mobile operators and other service providers now than there was in 2004 or 2005 -- when Cisco first got sniffy on WiMax. In the U.S. alone, Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR) and Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) are working on multi-billion dollar WiMax rollouts through 2008 and beyond.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

phillipwolfe 12/5/2012 | 3:08:01 PM
re: Cisco Reconsiders WiMax Cisco is smart to re-enter the Wimax ecosystem because there is a LOT of activity in the "Mobile WiMax 802.16(e) ecosystem. Already, countries in Central and Eastern Europe are heavily deploying 802.16 (d) and 802.16(e) networks. Pakistan already has a WiMAx system deployed. And if Cisco doesn't get in ball game we all lose.

Take a look at www.wimax.com forum and get a real feeling of what's going on - the real thing.

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