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Wise Words on WiMax

Live from the first-ever Light Reading Live WiMax event, called WiMax: Why Now? at the luxurious W Hotel in New York City -- well, they have mini-muffins, anyway -- Unstrung brings you some tasty news snippets of its own.

There are over 160 people here at the show, ranging from big-name operators, to equipment vendors, financial folks, and a wide variety of enterprise and vertical customers looking to learn more about the pre-WiMax metropolitan area kit available today.

Your correspondent is here to hear from the expert panelists, as well as -- no doubt -- the many radio heads and wireless wonks in the crowd. One thing's for sure, for a standard that isn't even available on the market yet, everyone's got an opinion about WiMax.

Phased Delay: There was a pointed question for keynoter Jeff Thompson, COO and president of fixed-wireless operator TowerStream Corp., from the capacity crowd, about reports of delays to the WiMax certification process for initial 802.16d products.

The testing process for WiMax branded has been delayed, Thompson admitted, but reckoned that in real terms it would only result in a couple of months' delay, and that manufacturers will have kit ready for test whenever.

"The same gear that was going to go to the labs in three or four months is now going to go to the labs in five or six months," says Thompson.

But as analyst firm Ovum Ltd. says, this is likely to mean that initial wireless products won't be on the market until the end of 2005

"2005 was thought to be the year of the WiMax launch," says a research note from the firm. "Unfortunately, it will now mostly be the year of pre-WiMax...

"Vendors will continue to sell pre-standard products to the few operators having already made a decision to deploy early, but operators waiting for standardized equipment will have to wait, and this will slow the market as a whole." A rebel cell: It is just not enough to be an "upstart" [ed. note: blurgh] or "disruptive" [ed. note: retch] technology any more. Nope, Unstrung overheard WiMax described as "an insurgent technology" while prowling the hall for yet another cup of bitter, bitter coffee.

Not that WiFi or WiMax alone will hurt the established operators, the theory runs, but eventually the sheer weigh of cheap wireless technologies arriving on the market will cut into their business.

Sigh, your faithful reporter can remember when a "tipping point" was just somewhere to go to knock cows over.

Mobile Max: Mister TowerStream expects Alvarion Ltd. (Nasdaq: ALVR) to be the first WiMax vendor to deliver mobile gear based on the 802.16e standard. He's expecting the kit to hit "early next year."

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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