Carrier WiFi

Metcalfe: WiMax Could Kill WiFi

Bob Metcalfe has joined the chorus of big names talking up the prospects of WiMax metropolitan area network technology. Speaking in an exclusive Light Reading TV interview, the inventor of Ethernet says "it’s conceivable that WiMax will just kill WiFi." "I’m not making that prediction, but it’s possible if WiMax lives up to expectations," he continues. "These days [people] are saying 'why do you want hotspots when you can have broadband everywhere?' Of course, they’re not using WiMax but it’s a precursor to WiMax that they’re using."

Metcalfe is a big proponent of WiMax, not least because of the effect he believes the technology will have on "lethargic" service providers.

"WiMax is coming and that’s very exciting because that’s going to light a fire under [ILECs and cable companies]. No! All three -- the mobile guys will be attacked, the wireline LECs will be attacked, and the cable companies will be attacked by WiMax -- and I’m really looking forward to that."

Metcalfe is not the only big tech head making bold claims for WiMax. Craig Barrett, the outgoing CEO of Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) and Hossein Eslambolchi, the president of AT&T Research Labs, have both claimed recently that WiMax will become a dominant next-generation technology (see Eslambolchi: WiMax Booming ).

WiMax is based on the 802.16 specification from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE). The initial fixed wireless version of WiMax is based on 802.16d; initial products are expected late in 2005 or early next year. Mobile WiMax products, based on 802.16e, are likely to hit the market in 2007.

The MAN is far from the only wireless topic discussed in the wide-ranging interview. Metcalfe also talks about WiFi and how the two wireless technologies figure in the Ethernet universe. He even reveals that Ethernet has the same roots as wireless LAN:

"The irony there is that Ethernet started out as a wireless technology, but in 1973 we chose not to use radio and to get onto cable. Ethernet was derived from a thing called the Aloha network -- a packet radio network. So we got it off radio and went wired for decades, and now we’re going wireless again. So it’s going home."

[Ed note: The first wireless LAN was put together in 1971 at the University of Hawaii as a part of the Alohanet research project -- see Development of the Alohanet.]

For all this and more, see Full Transcript of LRTV's Interview With Bob Metcalfe, Inventor of Ethernet. — Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

Sign In