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TechDirt bucks some of the tide by noting WiMax pullouts, delays: The analysts at TechDirt stick by a 2003 prediction that 2008 would be the year of mobile WiMax. They cite several unrelated events which, combined, may lead to a delay in the expected 2007 rollout of mobile WiMax. Sprint Nextel had committed to offering service using this technology by next year, and Intel, Motorola, and Samsung said they’d all have hardware. But TechDirt’s reading of the portents is that it’s not baked fully enough. They note that anything that claims to be mobile WiMax today isn’t—there’s no certification—but is rather something mobile WiMax-like, such as Clearwire’s current deployment that uses its former NextNet division’s Expedience technology.
Clearwire launched its Seattle mobile WiMax-like service with a laser light show on the Space Needle: Tricia Duryee of The Seattle Times reminds us all that in May 2005, the national ISP based in Seattle, Speakeasy Networks, launched its fixed WiMax (pre-WiMax, really) with a climbing expedition on the exterior of the famous structure by company head Bruce Chatterly.
A year later, and the pre-WiMax is post-WiMax. Duryee reports that while the Speakeasy launch was hailed as an early win for fixed WiMax, and was apparently one of the largest of its kind in the US—other similar technology wasn’t quite as related to WiMax or used a somewhat different approach—it’s no longer in service. Speakeasy was pushing its service as an alternative to wireline T-1, with more flexibility, such as up to a total of 8 Mbps to play with, which could be configured as 6 Mbps down and 2 Mbps up; 3 Mbps service offerings that would be cheaper and simpler than two T-1s; and very short-term installations, like within a day or two of initiation. Sounds like it didn’t gain traction as an offering as DSL and cable firms starting rolling out 5 and 6 Mbps services, and even much faster ones that were not readily available with business-grade service agreements when Speakeasy was planning their offering.
Intel had put money into Speakeasy to promote its WiMax line, but fixed WiMax has dimmed for Intel while mobile WiMax has had its profile raised. Mobile WiMax is just an element of 802.16-2005, and the WiMax Forum will have fixed, nomadic, and mobile profiles. While fixed WiMax (usually meaning 802.16-2004) has dropped in price and is now apparently widely deployed, a lot of future fixed deployments are anticipated to be using the so-called mobile WiMax base stations.
(Clearwire’s rollout uses older NextNet technology that has similarities to mobile WiMax; the company has stated when it will move to mobile WiMax, but it’s an inevitable transition, likely when Motorola, which bought NextNet, Intel, and Samsung release a first real generation of US-focused mobile WiMax gear in fall 2007.)