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May 13, 2005

More Hype and Exaggeration from Intel

By Nancy Gohring

These stories are beginning to become hardly worth linking to: Intel really does a disservice to the market by speaking in such broad terms to the mainstream media, which may not have a thorough grasp of the broadband market. Here, Intel’s Sean Maloney says that real deployments of mobile WiMax won’t start this year. As if that were even a possibility, given that the standard itself isn’t even complete yet. He also says that “most of the world” will get broadband via WiMax. That’s quite a prediction.

Perhaps the most outrageous bit in this article, which isn’t attributed directly to Maloney, is that mobile operators see WiMax as an alternative wireless network to relieve their 3G networks from heavy data use. That is stated like a fact, which it most certainly isn’t. To begin with, 3G networks are hardly even built, let alone full. Also, in some countries like in most of Europe, operators aren’t even allowed to deploy WiMax in their current 3G spectrum because of regulations. Not to mention the fact that WiMax equipment isn’t being built in the 3G frequencies.

The European operators could use different frequencies to build WiMax networks and link those to their 3G networks. However, if they were interested in that they wouldn’t be fighting tooth and nail to prohibit the deployment of WiMax networks in the 2.5 GHz spectrum which is to be opened in Europe in a few years. They are using the bulk of their lobbying might to keep that frequency dedicated solely to 3G technologies.

In a very theoretical sense it’s true that there is the potential in the future to harmonize 3G and WiMax. But that’s so far out that it requires a lot of background to even suggest it. The mobile world has largely settled on OFDM, the air interface that WiMax is based on, for the future mobile platform. But it’s not at all clear if WiMax or a future version of it will fill the needs of the mobile operators. A wholly new standard based on OFDM might instead serve the mobile operators. And while regulations currently prohibit operators in Europe from deploying WiMax in their 3G spectrum, there is a liberalization movement happening that could make it easier for operators to use any technology in any band. But that remains to be seen and regulatory changes are notoriously slow.

Posted by nancyg at May 13, 2005 1:35 PM

Categories: mainstream press

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