WiMax Is 'A Disaster' That 'Failed Miserably' - InformationWeek

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Commentary
3/24/2008
09:02 AM
Eric Ogren
Eric Ogren
Commentary
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WiMax Is 'A Disaster' That 'Failed Miserably'

Oh, man. This doesn't sound good. The first WiMax operator to launch a WiMax network in Australia already has shut the network down. The CEO of Hervey Bay's Buzz Broadband berated the technology during a public meeting and said that it simply doesn't work as it's been advertised.

Oh, man. This doesn't sound good. The first WiMax operator to launch a WiMax network in Australia already has shut the network down. The CEO of Hervey Bay's Buzz Broadband berated the technology during a public meeting and said that it simply doesn't work as it's been advertised.Late last week the city of Bangkok hosted a WiMax conference. Buzz Broadband CEO Garth Freeman was one of the many speakers. You could tell things would going to be bad when he prefaced his presentation with the words "WiMax may not work." According to CommsDay, Freeman went into a tirade about the failings of the technology and outlined exactly what didn't work.

Here are the details:

  • Non-line of sight performance was "nonexistent" beyond just 2 kilometers from the base station;

  • Indoor performance decayed at just 400 meters;

  • Latency rates reached as high as 1000 milliseconds;

  • The high latency and network jitters made WiMax unusable for many Internet applications, including VoIP.
  • What's worse for Buzz Broadband is that it pushed WiMax's VoIP capabilities as one of its best services. This led to scores of customer complaints.

    In all, Freeman said that WiMax "was still 'mired in opportunistic hype,' pointing to the fact most deployments were still in trials, that it was largely used by start-up carriers and was supported by 'second-tier vendors'." The technology worked so poorly for his company that it has abandoned its WiMax network and is returning to the TD-CDMA networks used in Australia.

    What this news means for WiMax technology vendors and for companies such as Sprint that are in the process of building out WiMax networks remains to be seen. Just because one network operator had difficulties doesn't mean the technology stinks. But the non-line of site, poor indoor performance, and latency issues make me nervous. Let's hope that Sprint and its vendors are able to get WiMax to behave as its been sold to the public at large.

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