Questions over WiMAX promise

Discussion in 'Wireless Networking' started by Knowing About, Aug 26, 2006.

  1. EVERYBODY who appreciates freedom from the shackles of cables would
    love WiMAX and what more when the new wireless connection offers
    convenient communication, cheap phone calls, fast downloads and smooth
    video streaming.

    WiMAX came after WiFi, promising an even wider range than its
    predecessor.
    The wide communication mobility it promises has the whole world
    catching on to the wireless broadband hype.
    Malaysia is no exception. More so when it wants to raise its broadband
    subscribers from some 600,000 now to 1.3 million by year-end.
    For enterprises, WiMAX can provide a cost-effective broadband access
    alternative. Its user-friendly installation process can break down the
    monopoly of local telecommunication companies (telcos).
    Since companies can set up their own private networks, telcos may be
    forced to add value or lower their prices in order to compete.
    Industries like oil and gas, mining, agriculture, transportation and
    construction may find WiMAX useful when they need to operate in remote
    locations.
    WiMAX can provide Internet access to residential customers in suburban
    and "really" rural areas - the window to a whole new world that the
    now-obsolete cabled broadband could not offer.

    A wider coverage gives room for Internet telephony to expand. With
    wireless broadband, one can use the mobile phone to make cheaper
    international calls.
    But all these are still promises as many believe the technology is not
    yet ready to provide a wholesome benefit.
    Global WiMAX trials have been running for several years but none has
    been rolled out commercially so far.

    The issue lies in the standards. Mulnational firms which are involved
    in creating WiMAX have yet to agree on a set of standard compliance for
    equipment or systems. These systems and other information is available
    on www.knowingabout.com ; you can get latest information about these
    development from that site.

    South Korea, rather than waiting, decided to jumpstart the deployment.
    It created its own version of WiMAX, which is called WiBro (short for
    wireless broadband).
    Its interoperability between countries and its parent WiMAX remains
    unclear. But since its commercial rollout will be earlier than WiMAX,
    even Japan is now preparing for the deployment.

    In Malaysia, NasionCom Holdings Bhd has stated its dream to make the
    country into one big "hotspot" area, which means one can remain
    online continuously while travelling within the nation. It owns a
    3.5GHz fixed WiMAX block.
    The firm, together with Intel and Deutsche Telekom, is expected to
    commercially launch WiMAX, covering Klang Valley by year-end and the
    whole country by next year or so.
    But a fixed WiMAX spectrum has limited mobility coverage. The WiMAX
    forum, in a move to upgrade the technology, introduced mobile WiMAX
    with roaming capabilities last year and it has taken the world by
    storm.

    Domestically, the mobile WiMAX spectrum managed to attract 17
    contenders into the ring. But the Government, upon realising its worth,
    decided to defer the contest as it needs to draw up more rules and
    requirements to find the perfect player.
    But one thing is for sure: even the cellular companies (celcos) want
    it. Although they do not see WiMAX as a threat now, the possibility
    cannot be discounted.
    Maxis Communications Bhd is one of the bidders. Its chief executive
    officer, Datuk Jamaludin Ibrahim, had indicated his interest in WiMAX
    early this year.

    In a February news report, he said Maxis was really looking into WiMAX
    because it covers a larger area compared to WiFi. But he acknowledged
    the fact that it is not ready for now.
    "The first phase of products will be ready in the next two years.
    Even then it will have very limited mobility. Additional mobility would
    only happen four to five years from now. It is a long way to go," he
    was quoted as saying.
    A bank-backed research house remains bullish on the celcos, especially
    those with 3G in hand.

    The mobile service operators with 3G, which offers video calls and fast
    download speed, are already working on upgrading 3G to 3.5G (or High
    Speed Downlink Packet Access/HSDPA).
    While field tests show that WiMAX performance is better and cheaper
    than 3G, its implementation is estimated to lag behind 3.5G by one to
    two years.
    On top of that, 3.5G already has 41 networks in commercial service
    globally against WiMAX which has none, it said.
    On the local front, 3.5G is likely to dominate, it added.

    MoBif Bhd, an internet telephony firm, chose iBurst, another type of
    wireless broadband, instead of WiMAX because of its availability.
    iBurst is already being used in South Africa, Australia, Canada and
    Kenya, and the world is just not ready for WiMAX, said its chief
    executive officer Kevin Leong.
    "WiMAX is in a dilemma now and the issue is standardisation. People
    are talking about 802.16e (mobile WiMAX) which is not ready. And
    although 802.16d (fixed WiMAX) is, there is a big question mark there.
    "After investing in 16d, do I need to start investing all over again
    in 16e?" he lamented.
    So, all eyes are on NasionCom now.

    The pressure is on for the firm to stick to its launching date.
    Sceptics, with folding arms, are lurking at its side, waiting to judge
    its success.

    For further information : www.knowingabout.com/wimax
    Knowing About, Aug 26, 2006
    #1
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