As you'll read below, this is Ben Frankel's last issue of FierceWiFi. I want to thank him for his contributions to FierceWiFi and WiMAX Beat. We are sorry to see him leave. However, we do have many exciting plans for the newsletter. Veteran telecom journalist Lynnette Luna, whom most of you know from her insightful work on FierceWireless, will be taking over as editor of FierceWiFi. -Sue
This is my last issue of FierceWiFi and Thursday will be my last issue of the WiMAX Beat. Six years ago, FierceMarkets launched what was then called The 802.11 Report. The term WiFi did not yet exist, and when it initially appeared on the scene, it was applied only to 802.11b.
Much has happened during these past six years in wireless, with the most important development being the emergence of broadband. WiFi and WiMAX are now accepted technologies. But this was not always the case. Many raised questions about the commercial potential of 802.11, and WiMAX is still described as over-hyped. It is gratifying to see that I was essentially correct to point out, from the very beginning, the technological merits and market potential of these two technologies. I have always believed that a sound technology meeting a proven market need will eventually become a commercial success, and WiFi (already) and WiMAX (in the near future) are two examples of this.
Over the past six years I have been impressed with the democratic character of the WLAN market. This market is driven by the ingenuity of scientists and engineers and the pluck and entrepreneurial spirit of start-ups.
The WLAN market exhibits an invigorating spirit of early capitalism. It is largely characterized by its atomistic nature (there is a relatively large number of small producers and a large number of consumers); homogeneity (goods and services are almost perfect substitutes, and products are differentiated mostly by price); near equal access (firms have access to production technologies, and resources are largely mobile); and relatively free entry (almost any firm may enter or exit the market as it wishes, and barriers to entry are not dauntingly high). Yes, capitalism has its rhythms, and eventually consolidation and concentration will come to the WLAN market. For a while though, we should enjoy the bracing, stimulating vitality of the sector.
I wish to thank the many people in the field who shared their thoughts, observations--and also criticisms--with me during these years. Six years is a long time, and one does not want to grow stale. It has been quite a ride, and now it is time to move on. -Ben