Wait for WiMAX Isn’t Getting Any Shorter


Enterprises keeping WiMAX deployments at bay have the right idea given a new report that states the technology is two to three years from debuting as a mature networking option. Challenges in network builds and slow delivery of compatible handset devices have led to the delay.

The news likely won’t stall the $14 billion dollar Sprint-ClearWire plan for a national WiMAX carrier, but it is likely disappointing for enterprises chomping at the bit for faster wireless data services and applications.

“There has only been limited success so far with mobile data services, and it’s nowhere near a proven data stand-alone technology as yet,” Phillip Redman, a Gartner analyst, told InternetNews.com.

Companies are hungry for improved networking to expand and enhance mobile data services, as mobility is now viewed as a business differentiator.

WiMAX stands for Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access and are fixed broadband wireless metropolitan access networks, or MANs using a point-to-multipoint architecture.

The technology promises blazing fast download and upload rates from distances of up to 30 miles. It would eliminate the annoying dropped calls and data packets enterprises as well as offer real-time multimedia experiences and robust applications.

Gartner’s research released this week indicates that WiMAX will first arrive as a “niche” technology, deployed in a pay-as-you go model much like Wi-Fi in the past few years.

Big roadblocks, according to the research firm, include a lack of mobile WiMAX equipment, strong competition from wired broadband networks, initial high device costs and spectrum availability.

A WiMAX adoption

A study earlier this year noted that enterprises are also concerned about costs and security issues. The Chadwick Martin Bailey study reported that 69 percent of enterprises using Wi-Fi today have no plans to move to WiMAX.

Gartner predicts that initial network launches will be large operators using WiMAX as a data-only service, and that it won’t be until 2010 that voice over IP (VoIP) capabilities will come into the mix.

Once up and running, however, WiMAX will bring some unique offerings to the table. Once devices are out in the market, the price point will drop substantially, which will then lower service costs, Gartner said.

WiMAX carriers have already shared a subscription model that would let users and enterprises use multiple devices on a service plan for no additional cost. Users will also be able to choose a needed speed of service — paying more for faster speeds.

“For the enterprise it’s certainly worth thinking about,” Redman said.

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