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HR: Big changes in store for WiMax

First-generation broadband wireless equipment based on the emerging WiMax technology standard will start shipping c...


October 22, 2004  


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First-generation broadband wireless equipment based on the emerging WiMax technology standard will start shipping commercially in 2005, but many smaller vendors may not survive long enough to reap the rewards of WiMax’s arrival, according to a new study released today by Heavy Reading (www.heavyreading.com), the market research division of Light Reading Inc.

The report, WiMax Reality Check, analyzes the current state of technology and market development for this latest incarnation of broadband wireless technology.

Findings are based on information collected from and interviews conducted with more than 100 technology suppliers, service providers, and investors with a direct interest in the WiMax market.

The first commercial versions of WiMax products should be available by mid 2005, with market leader Intel Corp. leading the rollout charge, according to Heavy Reading.

The initial products will focus on fixed broadband applications, with products aimed at portable and mobile networking appearing in 2006 or later.

Heavy Reading expects WiMax to be a significant force in the emerging fixed/mobile network convergence sector later this decade, but the report concludes that the combination of a relatively long lead time for technology and market development, an overcrowded supplier market, and significant early price pressures will lead to a high attrition rate among WiMax components and systems vendors.

WiMax, it said, will debut as a way to deliver fixed services before expanding into portable and finally mobile services. Initial uses of WiMax will be focused on backhaul connection of network access points to wireline infrastructure.

“The most obvious use of WiMax in this context is for connecting 802.11 hotspots to wired networks, but WiMax will also be deployed for backhaul connections of DSL-type services offered by competitive local exchange carriers looking to bypass incumbent-owned wireline networks,” the research firm said.

“Whenever it arrives, WiMax will be a critical network technology force for a long time. Backers have learned from the mistakes of earlier broadband wireless efforts, and they’ve taken important steps toward avoiding such problems as interoperability and business-case-annihilating overhead.”