Incumbents slow to warm up to WiMAX

WiMAX may be the flavor of the season, but traditional broadband players and mobile operators will be giving WiMAX a wide berth for a while yet, new research from Capgemini predicts. A number of factors such as cost, speed and the uncertain regulatory environment will serve to hobble WiMAX's progress. The consulting group says that the millions of dollars spent on 3G licenses, and the increased number of base stations needed to run a network, will deter mobile operators from investing in WiMAX. Cost will also put off would-be broadband providers as the falling cost of DSL access--down by more than 20 percent in 2003 and 2004--will make it hard for pure-play WiMAX companies to enter the broadband market. For mobile WiMAX to become profitable, Capgemini said, providers will need to sign up one-third of current data card users (300,000 individuals).

WiMAX supporters will also have to resolve issues of speed, the report said. With current speeds on WiMAX networks between 1 and 3 Mbps, the technology is still matched by HSDPA-upgraded 3G networks, which offer speeds of 1.8 Mbps. Lack of bandwidth will also rule out the option of triple-play providers using the technology. Capgemini says that WiMAX does have a future in serving communities outside the reaches of wired infrastructure. China, for example, could possibly take up the technology as 60 percent of its population are not currently connected.

For more on Capgemini's research:
-see this report

PLUS: A bid submitted jointly by Aeroflex and Cetecom Spain has won the contract from the WiMAX Forum to develop the protocol conformance test solution for the new WiMAX 802.16e technology standard. Report

ALSO: Wireless broadband pioneer Alvarion is expanding its foothold in Africa. Ghana Telecom, that country's incumbent carrier, will be using Alvarion's eMGW--a point-to-multipoint fixed wireless system--to offer data and voice services to SoHo and residential users. It will also build a broadband wireless network in Accra, Ghana's capital, to provide broadband data and toll-quality voice services. The eMGW system offers benefits to emerging markets as it supports Internet services, corporate network access and carrier-class telephony in a single system. It also features a hybrid-switching architecture which uses both circuit and packet switching. Broadband provider Gulfsat Madagascar will expand its current network using Alvarion's OFDM system operating in 3.5 GHz, offering service to residential subscribers in the capital city of Antananarivo. Report