Wireless Updates from San Jose and Chicago

Update from US Telecom’s Executive Briefing in San Jose

At the US Telecom Association’s 2nd Annual Executive Business Forum this week in San Jose, CA, Link Hoewing, Verizon’s VP of Internet and Technology Policy, stated that Verizon Wireless plans to roll out LTE in early 2010 (that’s about 18 months from now!) with, "possibily 75M bit/sec downstream rate." 

At the same conference, Robert Brown, Wayport’s Director of Business Development for Strategic Roaming and Managed Services stated that WiFi hot spots are growing very rapidly and that more and more people on the move are using WiFi devices (e.g.cameras, MP3 players, mobile phones) for Internet connectivity. Wayport is largest operator of WiFi hotspots in the U.S. and the largest managed WiFi hot spot service provider (they manage AT &Ts WiFi network).

Note: The agenda and some of the presentations for this excellent conference are at:

http://ustelecom.org/Events/EventSubPages/Second-Annual-USTelecom-Executive-Business-Forum-Agenda.html

Please let me know if you have questions or request for my take on any of the presentations I heard.


So with LTE moving faster than expected at the high end and WiFi hot spots increasing dramatically at the low end, where does that leave mobile WiMAX? We review important take aways from WiMAX World in Chicago and results from SPRINTs XOHM WiMAX launch in Baltimore this week.  Then we offer an opinion and conclusions.   Good reading!

WiMAX World and More….

The 2008 WiMAX World show wrapped up this week in Chicago and offered a nice perspective on the industry and the possibilities of full-mobility, wireless broadband connectivity. This article lists 10 key points from the show.

http://www.wimax.com/commentary/blog/blog-2008/october/Top-10-Key-Take-Aways-from-WiMAX-World-2008

Reaching into WiMAX’s Pocket  By Rhonda Wickham WirelessWeek – October 03, 2008

This week’s WiMAX World wasn’t exactly the all-out enthusiastic trade event you might expect from a technology that launched its first commercial U.S. mobile network the day before the show doors opened. The mood was decidedly tempered as most folks were pondering the economic situation that was playing out on the world stage around them.
What should have been an exuberant time for this new sector was instead tarnished as many conversations were punctuated with financial feasibility questions.

http://www.wirelessweek.com/Reaching-into-WiMAX-Pocket.aspx

Sprint’s 4G Xohm WiMax: How fast is it?

The following link provides an excellent summary of the real world speeds and the real world devices (the Nokia tablet device is especially interesting) available in Sprint’s WiMax deployment in Baltimore. 

http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&articleId=9116844&intsrc=hm_ts_head 

XOHM WiMAX Broadband Service Debuts in Baltimore

Earlier this week, Sprint officially launched XOHM TM (its mobile WiMAX commercial offering) in Baltimore, MD. “This is truly an historic day with the birth of a completely new Internet-based business model that alters the dynamics of the traditional telecom industry,” explained Barry West, president of Sprint’s XOHM business unit. “Wireless consumers will experience WiMAX device and XOHM service innovation on multiple levels as the computer, Internet, telecom and consumer electronics industries converge to redefine wireless mobility.”

http://www.wimax.com/commentary/blog/blog-2008/september/XOHM-WiMAX-Broadband-Service-Debuts-in-Baltimore-0929

Xohm Could Restrict Usage By Brad Smith, WirelessWeek – October 03, 2008

When Sprint’s Xohm launched in Baltimore earlier in the week, the launch raised some questions about the future. Are there usage restrictions? Are there more devices coming? What about long-term pricing? Where and when will other markets launch?
Atish Gude, senior vice president for mobile broadband operations for Xohm, answered some of those questions Thursday in his keynote to WiMAX World 2008. Others didn’t get answers.

http://www.wirelessweek.com/Xohm-Restrict-Usage.aspx

Alvarion Notches WiMAX Win in the US Heartland with Wisper

Midwest based Wisper chooses Alvarion to supply a dual spectrum WiMAX deployment in both 2.5 GHz and 3.65 GHz. In what is the first dual-frequency deployment of WiMAX radios in the US, Minnesota-based Wisper chooses Alvarion to supply both a 2.5 GHz licensed spectrum solution and a 3.65 GHz lightly regulated spectrum solution.

http://www.wimax.com/commentary/blog/blog-2008/october/alvarion-notches-wimax-win-in-the-us-heartland-with-wisper


DCT/Weissberger Opinion:

For a long time, mobile WiMAX was said to be the first 4G like mobile broadband service with a 3 or 4 year lead time over LTE. However, that window of opportunity for WiMAX is shrinking fast, as the WiMAX commercial rollouts have been delayed while carrier LTE plans and progress have accelerated. There seems to be much more telco focus and endorsement of that technology then WiMAX is enjoying, especially among Tier 1 mobile carriers.

Conclusion:

So it appears mobile WiMAX is being squeezed into a small niche market in developed countries like the U.S. and Europe. In the U.S. we observe expanding WiFi hotspots and WiFi based fixed broadband access putting severe cost pressure on WiMAX. With the financial crisis, how will WiMAX providers justify the high build out and deployment costs when they will have to charge very low rates to compete with free (or almost free) WiFi? What about the cost of mobile WiMAX CPE, especially on PDAs, smart phones, gadgets, etc when WiFi is already built into those for almost no cost?

At the same time, the lead time mobile WiMAX has over LTE deployments is shrinking fast. So where does that leave the market for mobile WiMAX? We have long stated mobile WiMAX would be predominantly used for fixed wireless broadband access in developing countries (without wireline infrastructure) and for DSL substitution in rural areas that can not be cost effectively serviced by DSL. Our opinion has not changed based on this week’s breaking news and conference reports. We also do not see any progress on the "Internet in your pocket" type of Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs) that Intel talked about at our ComSoc SCV January 2008 meeting.

Do you agree with this analysis or do you have a different opinion?

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