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WiMax Guide

Light Reading
1/5/2005
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2005 will probably be the year in which WiMax sinks or swims as the next big thing in telecom technology. For that reason, plenty of people are going to need a quick and easy way of getting up to speed on what WiMax is and why it's stirring up so much interest.



This report aims to provide that quick and easy guide, by answering questions that are most frequently asked about WiMax. In the report's initial form, answers to eight basic questions are given, one per page. But the idea is that readers can ask further questions on the message board attached to this article. If you want to send a private message, please email [email protected] and include "WiMax Guide" in the subject field. Frequently posed questions will be answered by adding pages to this report.

For those that just want a high-level understanding of WiMax, here are the key points:

  • WiMax is a broadband access technology that delivers high-speed, carrier-grade Ethernet data communications by wireless over city-sized distances.
  • Its main use initially will be to deliver broadband Internet connections to buildings by wireless and to provide links between WLAN hotspots and carriers’ core IP networks (backhaul); later, individual user devices such as PCs will be connected direct, and, eventually, mobile devices.
  • Its big attractions are expected to be the usual Ethernet and wireless virtues of low costs, flexibility, ease of rollout and use, and interoperability.
  • However, WiMax is not expected to be fully commercialized until about 2006.


Industry opinions are divided over WiMax's prospects, judging by early results of a poll being conducted on Unstrung, Light Reading's sister Website covering wireless technologies. So far, 48 percent of respondents say WiMax will "emerge as a credible wireless replacement for DSL/cable" and exactly the same percentage say it will "splutter onto the market with minimal impact."

To take the poll yourself and see the full, up-to-date results, please click on this link.

Here's a hyperlinked list of the questions and answers in this report:



Webinar Archives on WiMax



Paid Research Reports on WiMax

— Tim Hills, Freelance Telecommunications Writer and Journalist


Need to know more about the latest developments in WiMax? check out the coming Light Reading Live! conference:

WiMax – Why Now?
at the W Hotel, Union Square, New York City, on Tuesday, January 20, 2005


This one-day event, hosted by Rick Thompson, Heavy Reading Analyst at Large, will provide qualified attendees from Light Reading's global audience an education in how WiMax will fit into their networking development plans for 2005 and beyond.

  • For more information, click here
  • To register, click here
  • Sponsorship opportunities are still available. Direct all inquiries to [email protected].


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jim_smith
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jim_smith,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:29:31 AM
re: WiMax Guide
The question is why would I want to build yet another broadband High Speed Internet infrastructure.

Because the present RBOC infrastructure is too costly to maintain.

For example:

SBC has approx. 150K employees for approx. 50M subs. Comcast has approx. 70K employees for 20M subs. Essentially a 3:1K ratio.

Cingular (after merger) has 60K employees for approx. 60M subs. A 1:1K ratio.

Why? Partly because wireless is a "cleaner" technology. I know that Cingular leases its core network from SBC and that is one reason why SBC has more employees, but it still cannot account for the huge gap.

Bottom line: a wireless infrastructure lowers the capex and opex. Mobility is just the icing on the cake.

You can't beat that.
djkstra
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djkstra,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:29:29 AM
re: WiMax Guide
The question is why would I want to build yet another broadband High Speed Internet infrastructure. ???

Brookseven,

Internet service market is under-leveraged. According to Mckinsey, every month 35Million users wordwide are migrating to broadband.. Last-mile problem is huge to solve.
paolo.franzoi
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paolo.franzoi,
User Rank: Light Sabre
12/5/2012 | 3:29:28 AM
re: WiMax Guide

Again, I point to the US.

The RBOC network may be expensive and wrong, but it has two things going for it:

1 - It exists. Only thing that needs to be added are linecards when incremental subscribers exist. Basically, there is 95%+ broadband coverage in the US. The places that there is no broadband are extraordinarily rural (call it pop density of 1 person per square mile country).

2 - Its commodotized. I think there is a belief that suddenly a 1Mb/s/sub infrastructure is going to be replaced by a single WiMAX base station in say San Francisco. More likely this will be replaced by 1 on every corner. Thus, the buildout is nowhere near as cheap and easy as stated.

So again, I see no case for this technology in the US outside of mobility. In areas where teledensity went wireless (the 3rd world as an example), WiMAX makes sense. The US (and most of the industrialized world) simply does not have a connectivity problem. This problem is solved. We are now moving onto a bandwidth increasing per subscriber problem (thus all the talk of deep fiber and architectures of sustained 100 Mb/s/subscriber). Wireless simply is too noisy of a channel to support these rates over any distance with a wide coverage area.

seven
djkstra
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djkstra,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:29:28 AM
re: WiMax Guide
>Basically, there is 95%+ broadband coverage in the >US.

>WiMAX makes sense. The US (and most of the >industrialized world) simply does not have a >connectivity problem. This problem is solved.
>We are now moving onto a bandwidth increasing per >subscriber problem (thus all the talk of deep >fiber and architectures of sustained 100 >Mb/s/subscriber)

Not sure how accurate these statement are.. However, I agree that notion that Wimax is not quite necessary technology exists predominantly.
I beleive Wimax is not just meant to solve bandwidth problem which it does to some extent.. To-Be-Mobile completely can be 10X factor on the fast paced businesses..
jim_smith
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jim_smith,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:29:27 AM
re: WiMax Guide
brookseven,

I basically agree with your analysis, except that some people only want connectivity - they don't want video over the 100Mbps pipe.

I'm talking about a niche market. WiMAX can allow you to serve these customers very cheaply and make a profit.

JS.
fgoldstein
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fgoldstein,
User Rank: Light Sabre
12/5/2012 | 3:29:25 AM
re: WiMax Guide
Why might we need WiMax?

The answer, flat out, is industrial policy, government favoritism towards specific industrial sectors. It's the antithesis of classical free-market economics, but it's all the rage in Bushland, where they have picked favorites. The ILECs are favorites. Their traditional suppliers are favorites. ISPs, CLECs, and scrappy little suppliers who don't play the Telcordia-spec game on a large scale are the losers.

However, that is so blatant a power grab that the Bush-Powell FCC needs cover. So they preach "intermodal competition", something not even mentioned, AFAIK, in the Telecom Act. And since the only two modes with any bandwidth are cable and the ILEC wire (especially if they get around to putting a little glass in), they need somewhere to push everyone else.

Hence wireless: A third medium that theoretically allows consumers to get their Internet service via someone other than the ILEC or cable company. Of course it's rarely suitable or competitive, and the total spectrum capacity is extremely limited -- there's lots of sand but only one spectrum. But it's a cover story that they love to trot out every time they cut off CLEC access to loops, or cut off ISP access to ILEC telecom networks. And hey, if there were infinite money with no need for profits (think 1998, but ten times more so), and the laws of physics could be waived as easily as the Geneva Conventions are ignored, then indeed there might be more sales of "high tech broadband" wireless equipment.
rjmcmahon
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rjmcmahon,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:29:25 AM
re: WiMax Guide
Why might we need WiMax?

The answer, flat out, is industrial policy, government favoritism towards specific industrial sectors. It's the antithesis of classical free-market economics


What's your opinion on the Intel and AT&T collaboration in the area of WIMAX and VoIP? Have these guys been boxed out by the feds and hence this unlicensed wireless approach is the best (only??) access technology they can hope for? Why didn't the feds take their interests into account when creating the "industrial policy?"

http://nwm.mobilepipeline.com/...

AT&T, Intel Explore WiMAX Together
Courtesy of TechWeb.com

As the Federal Communications Commission prepares to hammer another nail in the coffin of AT&T's efforts to compete in local-landline telephony markets, the long-distance company has begun to reveal the fruits of its R&D deal with Intel. The companies are focusing on WiMAX for much of their cooperative efforts.

AT&T is assisting Intel to develop the semiconductor firm's Roseville family of WiMAX chips scheduled for release next year. As AT&T has retreated from consumer landline-telephone markets, it has increasingly directed its attention to voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) and WiMAX, the wireless wide-area technology.
fgoldstein
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fgoldstein,
User Rank: Light Sabre
12/5/2012 | 3:29:23 AM
re: WiMax Guide
What's your opinion on the Intel and AT&T collaboration in the area of WIMAX and VoIP? Have these guys been boxed out by the feds and hence this unlicensed wireless approach is the best (only??) access technology they can hope for? Why didn't the feds take their interests into account when creating the "industrial policy?"


Intel's a beneficiary of the industrial policy -- for them, WiMax is an incremental source of chip sales. They're the main cheerleader, it seems, for WiMax, and thus least interested in reminding people to "pick one".

AT&T is the hated victim of this FCC. It's almost as if Powell remembers the old AT&T Bell System days and is punishing them for it. Of course he's too young, and it's the RBOCs who have inherited the bulk of Bell System monopoly genes. So it's more like young thugs saying "let's roll the old coot". Since AT&T sold its cable operation and its wireless operation, it has essentially no way to reach potential subscribers without going through the Bells. (TCG lights a few thousand buildings, if that.)
So out of desperation, they will talk about WiMax. Probably more for the sake of Wall Street than anyone else, though -- the banAnalysts on The Street don't understand "pick one". AT&T failed once on WLL with Angel and knows how hard it is.
lighten up!!
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lighten up!!,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:29:21 AM
re: WiMax Guide
To deliver WiMax appear to have been grossly understated. The "Hypesters" are at it again with promises to deliver hundreds of megabits over 10's of miles. All these fancy antennas, demodulation schemes and OFDM, comes at a price that's not going to be competitive with existing DSL/Cable. Even if the prices came down, does this stuff really work in real life? What real data does anyone have to substantiate all these claims by WiMax? So far I have only seen a whole lot of marketing hype and very little tangible proof. Having been burned by the Lambda Hype, I don't believe all the B.S. that is coming out of WiMax. If it sounds too good to be true then it probably is...
paolo.franzoi
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paolo.franzoi,
User Rank: Light Sabre
12/5/2012 | 3:29:21 AM
re: WiMax Guide

Jim Smith,

I agree with you. I view the market you described (basic connectivity) as a great vehicle in less industrialized nations. There, I DO believe in the potential of a mass market.

fgoldstein,

One thing you are not noticing is that even when the FCC tries to protect what it can for an IXC, the 8th circuit is saying that the rules do not meet the 1996 Act and is forcing the FCC to move the rules again.

I think Powell is interested in moving the country to an IP based infrastructure with fiber access and is pushing rules in this favor. I wonder if AT&T had envisioned this, whether they would have sold their cable operations. With these, they did not need a CLEC - they could be offering local VoIP connections over cable today. AT&T has now sold AT&T Wireless as well. I think they hoisted themselves up on their own.

seven
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