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« List of Conferences for the Year | Main | It's Qualcomm vs. WiMax »

February 22, 2005

The HSDPA vs. WiMax Debate Continues

By Nancy Gohring

Om Malik concludes that HSDPA will beat WiMax: While it will beat WiMax to market, HSDPA won’t take the place of WiMax. The two technologies will serve a different market. I’m in the midst of working on a story for Wireless Week about HSDPA and what I’m hearing from operators, analysts, and vendors is that operators won’t be looking to use HSDPA as a DSL or cable modem competitor. The operators are looking at HSDPA as essentially true 3G, enabling applications like video or music downloads on handheld devices. The mobile operators would have an incredibly hard time offering HSDPA at a flat rate to compete with the DSL folks—their costs, including spectrum, are just too high for them to be able to compete with the landline players.

But what HSDPA might do is relegate WiMax to mainly a fixed broadband access technology. By the time the mobile version of WiMax comes out, customers will already have been using HSDPA to access email and get online when they’re on the road. Unless a mobile WiMax can considerably beat the price of HSDPA, WiMax may have trouble competing in the mobile arena. Instead, the vast majority of the market for WiMax will be bringing broadband access to customers who don’t have access to DSL or cable modem.

I also can’t resist commenting on the quote here from Paul Jacobs of Qualcomm. Malik quotes him as saying: “WiMAX is nothing but hype. People can promise all sorts of things when you don’t have a system.” Not only are those words obviously self-serving, they’re comical if you’ve followed the development of CDMA from the very beginning. The groups supporting CDMA initially said that CDMA would offer at least ten times the capacity as the analog systems (I’ve found reports of reports stating a promised 20 times capacity increase). As operators began building their CDMA networks, that figure increasingly was lowered to six times the capacity. My point is only that Qualcomm isn’t really in the position to criticize other up-and-coming technologies.

Posted by nancyg at February 22, 2005 2:16 PM

Categories: cellular

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Bob at [url][/url] Says, OM is correct. While WIMAX will have better upload speeds... HSDPA is being pushed by major Cell Firms so there is a stronger marketing and support / service infrastructure. Sector fragmentation will soften even the best technologies

Posted by: robert kim at February 23, 2005 11:41 PM