Users and vendors make WiMax plans

Users and vendors make WiMax plans

It's a service provider's game

WiMax providers are expected to run the gamut of small and large Internet service providers and carriers, according to vendors and analysts. To avoid wireless interference, business users will not be building WiMax networks on their own; instead, they should expect to purchase it as a service from a wireless carrier who has licensed needed spectrum, which is less susceptible to interference, at great cost, said John Roese, CTO of Nortel. While Nortel expects to market gear such as its transceiver to wireless carriers, it also expects to sell enterprises on enlarging their internal IP networks to handle the emerging wireless broadband network, he said.

TowerStream, is already including precertified WiMax equipment - developed before the wireless standard was certified - in its broadband wireless package of services to 400 business customers in the Boston area. The service offers an average speed of 2.2 Mbit/s, said TowerStream chief executive Jeff Thompson. Instead of focusing only on WiMax technology, TowerStream sells a wireless broadband mix that includes conventional microwave transmissions along with WiMax to create what it called a "Wireless Ring in the Sky." That service is priced at US$5,000 a month for 100 Mbit/s of throughput.

Clearwire, founded by cell phone pioneer Craig McCaw, has announced a WiMax trial in Oregon, in partnership with Motorola and Intel. That trial will last through 2007, according to a statement from Intel. Intel is also backing Pipex's trial of WiMax in the UK.

Even with all the various WiMax trials and new technologies, "WiMax's role is still vague for the enterprise. [WiMax] is truly in its early stages," said Gene Signorini, an analyst at the Yankee Group. The business models are still unclear, and widespread business adoption is a "few years away," Signorini said.

Even though some carriers see cost/performance enhancements with WiMax, business users should wait to hear what their actual costs will be, Signorini said. "You can't bank on costs being" a fraction of today's wireless, he said.

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