WiMax Over 700MHz

4:20 PM -- Longtime reader Jim Aimone emailed me with some interesting thoughts and questions about the prospects for WiMax over 700 MHz in light of the upcoming Federal Communications Commission (FCC) wireless broadband auctions.

Personally, I think we will be seeing a lot more of WiMax over 700 Mhz in 2008. The WiMAX Forum has already said that it will start testing products based on a 700 MHz profile this year. Intel Capital , meanwhile, continues to pump money into companies working on 700 MHz technology, while firms such as Airspan Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: AIRN) already have the necessary radio technology on hand.

The major advantage of WiMax over 700 MHz compared to the 2.5 GHz technology available now in the U.S. is better in-building penetration and radio coverage in dense foliage. Aimone speculates that Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR), for instance, could be interested in such spectrum, which might lead to some interesting partnership prospects, such as a Clearwire-Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) tie-up.

Meanwhile, the major carriers will need to get a big slice of the radio pie, too. "What AT&T will do when they capture a Nationwide license, by filling in open license in the lower band A & B Blocks of the 700 MHz auction?" he asks (and then answers).

"They do not need to wait for the LTE systems like Verizon Wireless does so they will more then likely use (and I feel waste) the 700 MHz spectrum on trying to upgrade their Narrowband HSDPA networks to full Broadband levels. Verizon Wireless will need to win the 20 MHz of the Upper band 700 auction if they are to remain competitive against AT&T and any new 700 MHz based WiMax network."

Whatever happens, the first half of this year is going to be another wild and wireless ride for the U.S. cellular industry, and 700 MHz will be the major spur.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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