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McCaw puts Clearwire in his backyard: Craig McCaw’s neighborhood sucks for broadband; the dirty secret is out. Although when you pay millions for a home, you might not mind $650 per month for a T-1 line, which is almost certainly available there. (The neighborhood is most likely part of the old GTE territory which had very weird landline service problems.)
Hunts Point has a median income of $180,000—average is probably $50m given that Microsoft CEO and billionaire Steve Ballmer lives there—and just 500 residents. McCaw proposed putting up a 41-foot antenna in the form of a flagpole, replacing a slightly shorter flagpole.
I can’t tell if the CTO of Ericsson is much better or worse informed than I am: The fellow doesn’t like mobile WiMax much (802.16e) because it’s a decade younger than cell standards that evolved into HSDPA. He’s pinning his star to 3G, and there are a lot of folks who will agree with that—and a lot on the other side of that debate.
He sees fixed WiMax (what is being called “d” here, but is 802.16-2004, encompassing everything up to 802.16d) as being a DSL substitute in areas lacking copper wire where a provider needs a competitive edge against 3G.
But he starts slipping on the ice, in my view, when he begins to deprecate the idea that Wi-Fi hotspots even exist and that operators wouldn’t run them even if the hardware were given to them gratis. Given the number of cell operators in Europe installing Wi-Fi hotspots at a breakneck pace; the 20,000 to 25,000 such locations in the U.S., about half of which are run or aggregated by major telcos; and the Asian rollout in South Korea, Japan, and elsewhere of Wi-Fi—it’s hard to fathom his take on this.
The ice starts to crack as I read that he thinks that carriers who offer UMA (unlicensed mobile access) will be countered by others who provide unlimited GSM at home using GPS to identify when you’re home…that’s just weird and contrary to stated plans, the growth of home and office Internet telephony and VoIP, and trends in the telecom world.
Finally, he plunges below the top layer of the frozen lake when he claims that Wi-Fi uses all kinds of power all the time, that prototype phones offering four hours of use in Wi-Fi mode when on standby won’t get better, and that Wi-Fi’s power usage is based on a laptop battery model. He’s not reading the spec of today’s low-power consumption chips, and he’s making a weird assumption that it can’t get better, when it’s already become radically improved in the first few generations of embedded Wi-Fi chips.
He ends by stating that Flarion is dead.
The company’s facilities were hit hard and pre-standard WiMax is a way to reconnect (and regain) businesses: They’re only offering a maximum of 1.5 Mbps downstream ($70 per month), but I imagine there will be a large number of takers as DSL and T-1 service may simply not be available for the foreseeable future, or businesses may want the flexibility of a fixed but movable antenna that they can use as they shuffle through different locations.
Cable companies are turning to wireless to reach additional customers: Cable One is a cable operator that is using a DOCSIS-based wireless solution to extend its coverage. DOCSIS is a cable standard. Time Warner and Charter Cable have a slightly different take. While Cable One is using wireless to reach customers that it can’t get to using wires, Time Warner and Charter Cable are building Wi-Fi hotspots as an additional access service for customers. I believe that Vyyo at least once based some of its wireless radios on DOCSIS, though not necessarily to in an effort at targeting cable operators.
Bentley College, a school in Massachusetts, lost all Internet connectivity on campus when a Level 3 router failed: Because the outage happened on a Saturday, Level 3 said it wouldn’t be able to fix the problem until Tuesday. But, the school had a contingency plan which enabled administrators to switch to TowerStream for connectivity by Saturday evening.
It’s this kind of service that will help the broadband wireless operators win some business. They have an advantage because they can typically hook up new customers far faster than the telcos. If they can go the extra mile to respond to these types of problems quicker, they’ll look that much more attractive.