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BusinessWeek offers an exhaustive and interesting rundown on WiMax’s origins and potential: Intel drove the WiMax ship starting when it learned the real per-home cost of fiber-optic installation from the telcos. They ran screaming, apparently, right into wireless options that might not provide the same raw speed, but would be effective alternatives to the super-expensive FTTH (fiber to the home) strategy that BusinessWeek says Intel was considering partially bankrolling.
WiMax arose out of a lot of competing industry ideas and a niche core of existing vendors. Those vendors are still thriving, by the way, even as Intel pulled out all the stops. The article doesn’t deal with the major evolution of WiMax moving from 802.16-2004 (the rollup of everything up to fixed 802.11d networking) to 802.16-2005, which added 802.16e, has been labeled mobile WiMax and changed the rules of the game.
Fixed WiMax was a T-1 and better replacement with some advantages and disadvantages. (In the U.S., the big problem is having the right band to use it.) Mobile WiMax, which technically encompasses fixed, nomadic, and mobile uses, could transform the wireless industry for voice and data, and challenge incumbents wireline firms to compete on WiMax’s terms or to do better, forcing out faster speeds and lower prices to stay firmly in the game.
The writer points out pretty clearly the challenges, expenses, and unknown factors involved in WiMax from massively backed to massively deployed, but also notes how quickly WiMax has become a standard of worldwide interest, with early deployments and tests rolling out in many countries—in some cases, covering parts of countries.
Sounds like a former mantra: The Xohm service will be resold by both Clearwire and Sprint, pending regulatory and other approval. The Seattle Times says that the branding will likely appear as “Xohm from Sprint” and “Clearwire, powered by Xohm.” Clearwire will continue to sell under its own name internationally. Sprint announced the name at an investor and press event, where they also stated that WiMax service will reach 100m people by the end of 2008, with Clearwire building out service for 30m of that 100m. In 2010, Sprint expects $2.5b in revenue from WiMax.
They’ll spend $2.5b through 2008 on building the network, and an equal amount to add just 25m more people by 2010. It’s clear that there is low-hanging fruit as it’s unclear why Sprint would budget the same sum to cover such disparate numbers of people. I checked several news sources, and they all appear to back each other up on the dollar figure and population covered.