WiMAX: Good News, Bad News

Posted by Sam Churchill on

Digitimes say’s Intel will dissolve its WiMAX Program Office, with staff members to be reassigned into Intel’s Mobile Wireless Group (MWG), PC Client Group (PCCG), and Sales and Marketing (SMG) unit.

Nick Jacobs, from Intel PR, replied to a TechEye.net post:

Digitimes applied more than their usual license to this one – yes, Intel is reorganizing its WiMAX Program Office (WPO) to better integrate WiMAX into its existing platform and product groups. However, this change is intended to put WiMAX-focused resources and expertise within the teams that can best commercialize WiMAX as it moves beyond start-up phase to a mature wireless technology. Today there are already more than 500 WiMAX networks in 147 countries bringing broadband to over 10 million people.

This evolution is a normal process that takes place as technologies mature and become a standard part of existing computing platforms. Intel remains committed to WiMAX.

I chatted with Ron Resnick, Chairman of the WiMAX Forum this morning to get his take, but he defered to Intel’s Ron Lassiter, who apparently will follow up.

The WiMAX Forum, an industry-led non-profit, certifies product interoperability and promotes the WiMAX brand, in a capacity similar to the Wi-Fi Alliance. IEEE 802.16 developed the WiMax standard. Intel’s WiMAX Program Office, a group within Intel, develops its own products and business alliances.

Since I had Resnick on the line, I asked him about the status of the Beaverton WiMAX Forum office. He earlier told me the Beaverton office was closed, and that the San Diego office would be the new bricks and morter office for the WiMAX Forum. But other reports said the Beaverton office was open. Which is it?

“At the end of the day, the message [about closing the office] was misinterpreted,” said Resnick. Two days later, Resnick told me, he changed his mind about closing the office, and moved the finance team back to the Portland office, keeping it open. Resnick says there are now 6 people working in the Beaverton office, and about the same number in the San Diego Office.

I asked Resnick if any of India’s 2.3 GHz spectrum winners are planning to use WiMax. “We believe yes,” he said without going into specific carriers.

It’s been a rough period for WiMAX.

The economic recession delayed spectrum auctions by a year or two, enabling TD-LTE to catch up with their competing technology for unpaired spectrum. Some observers estimate Mobile WiMAX still has a 1-2 year lead over TD-LTE.

But FDD-LTE and TD-LTE are making some recent gains:

On the other hand, WiMAX is moving ahead:

Some observers believe Sprint, which owns 51% of Clear, will enable TD-LTE on their spectrum for use by cellular carriers – in a year or two.

Meanwhile Clearwire announced today extended mobile WiMAX coverage to include Rochester and Syracuse, NY, Eugene, Oregon and to Merced and Visalia, California.

In the summer of 2010, CLEAR says they will launch in Tampa, Orlando and Daytona, Fla.; Nashville, Tenn.; Modesto and Stockton, Calif.; Wilmington, Del.; and Grand Rapids, Mich. By the end of 2010, CLEAR says their “4G” system will also be available in major metropolitan areas such as New York City, Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area, Boston, Denver, Minneapolis, Miami, Cincinnati, Cleveland and Pittsburgh.

Clearwire says it now covers 51 million people in 44 cities. The operator hopes to be in more than 60 markets and cover around 120 million potential customers by the end of 2010. Verizon Wireless plans to have LTE in 25 to 30 markets covering 100 million people by year’s end. Verizon may begin rolling out its LTE network on November 15th.

T-Mobile USA, says more than 25 major metropolitan areas have HSPA+, across the USA, covering more than 75 million Americans. Unlike AT&T’s HSPA+ service, T-Mobile is empowering cell towers with the capacity to deliver the enhanced speeds. AT&T’s backhaul upgrade is expected to take another year. AT&T’s LTE buildout won’t begin in ernest for a year or so, say industry observers.

Clear is still the only provider offering “4G” in major cities.

If you want to watch Hulu on your tablet or do lots of video chat, WiMAX may be the better choice. If you are more interested in smartphone data for photos or messaging, and travel frequently, LTE may be the better choice.

Due to their difference in frequencies (700MHz vrs 2.6 GHz), their bandwidth capacities (22MHz vrs 120 MHz), and their spectrum utilization (paired or unpaired), 700MHz LTE service from Verizon and AT&T will likely provide more universal coverage, but it would probably be slower and more expensive. That’s because more users will share a 700 MHz LTE tower with less “4G” bandwidth then Clear’s 2.6 GHz system.

WiMAX service from Sprint/Clear will likely be spottier, but faster and cheaper — without data caps. Of course, nobody really knows how it will all play out yet.

Related Dailywireless articles include; India’s Broadband Auction: It’s Done, Yota Dumps WiMAX, Clearwire: New Mobile Hotspots, Clear: No Limits, WiMAX Forum: Not Dead Yet, WiMAX Forum: In Trouble?, Sprint’s WiMAX Phone Launched, SK Telecom Buys 25% of Packet One, Compare “4G” Carriers in the U.S., LTE for Sprint? and MIMO: The Paper War

Posted by Sam Churchill on Thursday, July 1st, 2010 at 8:55 am .

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