Mobile WiMAX Products Finally Arrive -- So Everyone Claiming They Were Offering Mobile WiMAX Has To Scramble

from the so-what-was-all-that-prior-WiMAX-stuff? dept

It wasn't all Singapore Slinging (of mud) at WiMAX Forum Asia Congress 2008. There was some real progress to mention coming out of the show last week. The Forum has announced the certification of the first 8 products that are fully mobile WiMAX compliant, and it's been a long time coming. This is good news for network providers that have been counting on high-scale-economies for standards-based kit, with which they can deploy their networks. The WiMAX Forum says that 2.5GHz kit will likely be certified later this year. 2.5GHz is of particular interest to Sprint Xohm, which is currently working with non-certified gear.

And what were all the prior announcements that WiMAX certification was available? Well, this 2005 announcement was regarding fixed WiMAX, and this 2006 announcement was really about a suite for equipment makers to test their products in development. But that's behind us, there is now real Mobile WiMAX equipment available. Finally.

But, if certified mobile WiMAX gear is only available as of this week, what were all those other "mobile WiMAX" network announcements you've been hearing for years? Turns out many of them were what boosters dubbed "pre-WiMAX". But pre-WiMAX turns out to be defined as "not really WiMAX at all but I'm eager to get on the bandwagon." This massive reality gap between pre-WiMAX and standards-based WiMAX is illustrated by a recent story in which Clearwire Chief Strategy Officer Scott Richardson says "...Clearwire may use dual-mode devices to support both technologies [pre-WiMAX and WiMAX] and may overlay WiMAX equipment on its existing markets."

Dual-mode equipment and overlays? To manage an upgrade from "pre-WiMAX" equipment to "WiMAX" equipment? What he's really saying is that the older Nextnet-made gear is simply NOT compatible with WiMAX (i.e., it's NOT WiMAX and never was), and it eventually needs to be forklift-upgraded out. If this stuff was really just "pre-," then it should have taken no more than a software upgrade and a tweak or two to make it standard WiMAX (much like 54G was pre-G, or pre-n was basically = n WiFi). It's funny that the WiMAX bandwagon was so attractive, that companies that were absolutely not using WiMAX felt the need to call their solution WiMAX. Apparently it brought more press coverage, more public enthusiasm, and easier access to capital. But, it didn't mean they were actually offering WiMAX.
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Filed Under: mobile wimax, pre-wimax, wimax


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  1. identicon
    Toods, 17 Apr 2008 @ 1:12am

    WiMax is an unproven technology with questionable support beyond Sprint and Intel. Network World reports that Sprint has soft-launched WiMax networks in Chicago, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., so it's possible that Apple will build in the hardware in preparation for Sprint's nationwide rollout in April, I had tried something like wifi hopper. This would be a huge win for WiMax, which suffered a blow when Sprint and Clearwire abandoned plans for a WiMax joint venture.

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