WiMAX Forum: In Trouble?

Word on the street today is that the main WiMAX Forum office in Portland has closed its doors. Some 40 people will no longer be working there, leaving only Chairman Ron Resnick and one other person to hold down the fort.

WiMax Forum recently opened a San Diego office which will also serve as a location for other WiMAX Forum team members. WiMAX Forum Certification testing will continue at the Cetecom labs in Spain, where cross-compatible WiMAX products have been tested for nearly 5 years.

The WiMAX Forum is an industry-led, not-for-profit organization, formed to certify and promote the compatibility and interoperability of WiMAX. IEEE 802.16 developed the technical standard for WiMAX.

But development and buildout slowed as telcos developed their own “4G” system (LTE) and governments waited for the economic downturn to pass before auctioning off their last, best chunk of spectrum for “4G” – some 200 MHz around 2.5-2.6 GHz.

Now, as spectrum auctions began in earnest, LTE has become the strong favorite — FDD in the 140 Mhz of paired frequencies, and TDD-LTE dominating in the 50 MHz unpaired chunk. WiMAX appears to becoming an outlier.

WiMAX Forum members, it is rumored, are bailing from the organization. With fewer members, WiMax Forum doesn’t have the juice to sponsor meetings and promote the standard. Some believe WiMax Forum may be folded into other industry organizations such as the Broadband Forum.

We’re still trying to get confirmation from Ron Resnick about the reported layoffs, and what the move to the new San Diego office may mean for WiMax Forum.

If WiMax is largely abandoned, what would the world loose?

  • It’s an open standard supported by IEEE.
  • Runs on both licensed and unlicensed frequencies.
  • An established, interoperabile system, well matched for data-centric networks.
  • An easy, compatible upgrade to 100Mbps mobile.
  • A low-cost solution for governments, energy, education and independent ISPs
  • Competition to cellular carriers.

Originally the WiMAX Forum projected covering 100 million subscribers in the United States by 2008 with some 120 million global subscribers by 2012. It’s running late.

Is this the end? Probably not. But it doesn’t look good.

UPDATE: WiMAX not dead yet.

Posted by Sam Churchill on .

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