The solid news was the emerging availability of WiMAX-certified products for fixed wireless applications, and operators like AT&T (just acquired by SBC) describing their WiMAX trials and motivation for considering the technology, including bypassing the $8 billion a year that AT&T pays local phone companies for access to their customers. Also solid was the imminent completion of the IEEE 802.16e specification that adds mobility capability, with major vendors planning chips for the 2007 time frame. Less solid was what type of operators would deploy mobile WiMAX networks in what spectrum, to what types of users. However, one emerging view I discerned was on "personal broadband" data-oriented services in a three-tier network configuration, providing greater capacity than 3G networks though with smaller coverage areas, however exceeding Wi-Fi hotspot coverage areas. This makes sense, as Wi-Fi is somewhat problematic over wider continuous coverage areas.
One mesh Wi-Fi network vendor provided an interesting vision of mesh Wi-Fi networks becoming hybrid Wi-Fi/WiMAX networks, with WiMAX providing both access and backhaul, and access points deployed in the same locations as the mesh Wi-Fi network. Meanwhile, another vendor described a completely different model with WiMAX as a data overlay for cellular networks, deployed on existing cellular towers. There’ll be no shortage of ideas thrown around in the next couple of years as the industry tries to figure out how to leverage this new wireless technology.