The Second Wave of Mobile WiMax

Gearing up for the first WiMax deployments that really matter

Dan Jones, Mobile Editor

May 29, 2007

2 Min Read
The Second Wave of Mobile WiMax

PC cards and base-station chipsets that support the Wave 2 mobile WiMax specifications are now starting to be unveiled by silicon vendors like Sequans Communications and Picochip (See PicoChip Intros Wave 2 WiMax.)

Here's why you should care, even if only a little:

Rollouts: Wave 2-compliant products will drive the rollout of mobile WiMax in the U.S. by Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) If this silicon had somehow been delayed, that would have been bad news for the third-ranked cellular operator in the U.S. (See Sprint Facing WiMax Delays?)

The Reston, Va.-based operator was rumored to be a driving force behind the WiMAX Forum 's Wave 2 specifications, which mandate chipsets that use "beamforming" and multi-antenna arrays to increase the data transfer rates and capacity offered over the network. (See CTIA: WiMax in the Air.)CTIA: West Talks WiMax.)

Aside from smaller deployments by Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR) and Towerstream Corp. (Nasdaq: TWER), the Sprint rollout will be the first real test of WiMax in the U.S. I have no doubt that many other vendors and operators will be watching the user numbers with intense interest.

Buyouts: The success -- or otherwise -- of Wave 2 will also likely affect the fortunes of many of the silicon startups working in this market. As far as I can tell, Beceem Communications Inc. , PicoChip, and Sequans are the three leading silicon surfers of the second wave. If the technology takes off, I expect one or probably more of these firms will see a happy exit, either through acquisition or IPO.

If the applications allowed by Wave 2 don't grab the public's fancy, however, then the entire WiMax edifice could come crumbling down.

Flameouts: Broadband research firm Maravedis claims there are nearly 1 million WiMax users around the world. Most of them, however, are still using pre-WiMax or fixed networks.

The first true mobile offering -- the WiBro networks in South Korea -- doesn't appear to have attracted many users yet. In fact, operators have struggled to sign on even a couple of thousand subscribers since the service was launched in 2006. Poor coverage and a lack of suitable handsets have been cited as reasons for the slow uptake. (See Samsung's New Support for WiBro.)

No doubt Sprint is keen to avoid any WiBro-like missteps.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

About the Author(s)

Dan Jones

Mobile Editor

Dan is to hats what Will.I.Am is to ridiculous eyewear. Fedora, trilby, tam-o-shanter -- all have graced the Jones pate during his career as the go-to purveyor of mobile essentials.

But hey, Dan is so much more than 4G maps and state-of-the-art headgear. Before joining the Light Reading team in 2002 he was an award-winning cult hit on Broadway (with four 'Toni' awards, two 'Emma' gongs and a 'Brian' to his name) with his one-man show, "Dan Sings the Show Tunes."

His perfectly crafted blogs, falling under the "Jonestown" banner, have been compared to the works of Chekhov. But only by Dan.

He lives in Brooklyn with cats.

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