Wireless

by Mike Masnick




Watch Out... Here Comes The Mobile WiMax Hype Brigade

from the you'll-see-it-in-a-few-years dept

Om Malik is out breaking the news that the mobile WiMax (802.16e) standard has been "approved," which actually means a lot less than you might think. For those who haven't been playing the home game to keep up, there are a few different version of WiMax. The first is "fixed," meaning that you'd have to attach a stationary box to the side of your house or building to use it. The second version, which is getting all kinds of hype is "mobile" -- which is what most people seem to think WiMax is all about. That is, you'll be able to have a card or a chip in your computer that will let you access WiMax signals on the go... maybe. Despite press (and interested party) hype, no WiMax exists yet. There are companies who want to offer WiMax someday who claim their existing, proprietary solutions are "pre-WiMax," but that's just a meaningless label. It's like saying my house is a "pre-mansion" or my car is a "pre-flying car." Sure, I'd love to get there some day, but we're not there yet. Anyway, the IEEE standard for 802.16d ("fixed WiMax") was approved about a year and a half ago... and yet there's still no equipment. After the standard, you have certification testing which was delayed and delayed until it finally started earlier this year. The hope is that some certified fixed WiMax equipment might hit the market some time next year, but it's a long way from being particularly common. So, now that the mobile WiMax standard has been approved, don't think you'll be seeing any actual mobile WiMax for years to come. Companies first need to make chips and equipment to meet the standard (which might not be as easy as they'd lead you to believe). Then, you have to go through the plugfest/certification process, which, if the "fixed" certification process is any indication, will take quite some time.

In other words, while this is a good milestone, we're still talking at least 2008 before you're likely to see anything that can realistically be called mobile WiMax -- and even then it will likely be limited. Will that stop the hype? Hell no! Mobile broadband player Navini wins the award for the first to try to capitalize on this announcement by claiming they "lead" the mobile WiMax space. Navini, of course, wasn't a WiMax supporter until last year when they switched camps, but they're still offering their non-standard, proprietary wireless broadband and claiming it's "pre-WiMax," which somehow makes them a "leader." However, read the language in the press release, and you'll see they hedge each claim: "802.16e-like capabilities," "16e-type experience," and "WiMAX-like service."


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • identicon
    Joe T, 7 Dec 2005 @ 2:15pm

    No Subject Given

    There is both fixed WiMax equipment (Redline is one manufacturer) and mobile (I've seen some pre-release stuff) today. If you think it's not gelled yet, you're quite mistaken.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      alaric, 7 Dec 2005 @ 2:49pm

      Re: No Subject Given

      No wimax gear has been certified. The redline stuff is wimax compliant, meaning its built to the spec but not certified for interoperability etc.
      The mobile stuff is pure and unadultered proprietary gear. It is not wimax and certification is unlikely to happen for 18-24 months. Think UMTS in 2001 when the chipsets consumed lots of power and nothing was interoperable, and the system was unstable. Got the thought in your mind. Okay, mobile WiMAX is a year to 18 months shy of that milestone.
      A lot of early simmulations on wimax implementations show problems, problems, problems, and absolutely no gain in over the airlink spectral efficiency compared to umts or cdma2000.
      Some of those early simulations suggest that the wimax implementation of ofdma is questionable and some nasty surprises await those try to commercialize it. My guess is that you'll see a few amendments to mobile wimax over the next 18 months at a bare minimum to correct flaws in the spec.
      Mobile wimax is pretty far off and in the meantime IP Wireless and Flarion/Qualcomm have working solutions.
      The entire situation is ironic. Lots of people think intel is making a mark in the mobile space and playing the carriers with their hype. In the end Intel is the one getting played by the mobile carriers. They will use intel's wimax for leverage but may well support someone else's solution.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mike (profile), 7 Dec 2005 @ 5:48pm

      Re: No Subject Given

      As Alaric and Carlo have pointed out, if someone tells you they have certified WiMax equipment, they're lying to you.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        ThaiTelecom, 8 Dec 2005 @ 11:41pm

        Re: No Subject Given

        There is no point arguing about equipement being certified WiMAX or not. Even GSM "standard" equipement today has diferent implementation depending on which supplier you are using. The important point is that due to standartization of 802.16, suppliers will have to work on interoperability and this is driven cost down and foster large scale implementation which is key for the next era of broadband wireless.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          koxinga, 10 Dec 2005 @ 7:23am

          Re: No Subject Given

          While you are right from the cost perspective, the equipment manufacturers have chosen to sell on hype and vapourware at this particular stage (unlike GSM which is mature). Hence it is necessary to differentiate between certified and compliant if you are in the market for WBA equipment.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    F., 7 Dec 2005 @ 3:08pm

    No Subject Given

    1. WiMax equipment is certified in Malaga, Spain http://www.cetecom.es/ .
    2. Fixed WiMAX runs in different parts of the globe, such as Berlin, Germany, where AirSpan technology is used.
    3. Rgds. :)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: Home Cooking Is Killing Restaurants
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.