02:41 PM

WiMax Could Turn Wireless Data Into A Cheap Commodity

The deployment of WiMax and low-cost, unlimited-usage mobile data packages could cause wireless data to become a commodity, research firm Analysys says.

The coming deployment of WiMax will likely lead to dramatic decreases in price per megabyte of mobile data, placing wireless carriers in the position of possibly losing control of their services, a market research firm reported Thursday.

Citing the possibility of wireless data becoming a commodity, Analysys said in a report that the deployment of WiMax networks along with low-cost, unlimited-usage mobile data packages could cause wireless data to become a commodity.

"We are already seen early signs of this scenario," said Mark Heath, co-author of the report entitled "The Future of the Global Wireless Industry: scenarios for 2007-12."

"The number of relatively inexpensive, uncapped-usage data tariffs from wireless carriers is increasing," Heath said in a statement. "Sprint Nextel's EV-DO Revision A mobile broadband service offers unlimited usage for $59.99 per month, and Sprint is undertaking substantial investment in a nationwide Mobile WiMax network."

Another firm rolling out a WiMax network is Horizon Wi-Com, which is setting up its net across a wide swath in the Northeast from Virginia to Maine. Horizon Wi-Com is a standalone WiMax operation and won't be set up initially for telephone calls.

Heath said robust wireless networks will become transparent data pipes, and cellular carriers will likely lose control of their networks -- and lose revenue as well -- much like fixed networks have lost control and revenue in recent years.

"Wireless carriers [will be] forced to focus on reducing cellular network costs substantially so that they can deliver high volumes of data traffic profitably," the report noted.

The Analysis report also examines additional impacts of evolving wireless data including its influence on emerging markets and cellular usage indoors.

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