Certainly the biggest news of last week was Sprint Nextel's announcement that it intended to roll out mobile WiMAX in the 2.5 GHz band with intentions to reach some 100 million people by 2008. The announcement spurs a host of observations and questions in my mind that I'd like to share to give you some fodder for discussion.
- Will the 3G standards bodies significantly speed up the development of Long Term Evolution and future iterations of EV-DO based on OFDMA now that WiMAX actually has a major carrier willing to deploy the technology?
- Will WiMAX really have a significant time-to-market advantage to 3G LTE and HSxPA technologies? OFDMA is new to mobility. I predict a number of bugs will need to be worked out before we see full mobile hand offs, and WiMAX may not have the large headstart that everyone is predicting. Dual-mode devices incorporating EV-DO and WiMAX are also a must for coverage, but also throw in more complexity.
- Sprint's usage scenarios for WiMAX sound eerily similar to those promised for future iterations of EV-DO. Why isn't Sprint staying with CDMA then? The answer is cost. Sprint estimates it can provide four times the throughput at a tenth of the cost of CDMA.
- Samsung has finally made the inroads into the U.S. infrastructure market that it could never make with CDMA.
- How exactly is Sprint going to harmonize the various profiles of mobile WiMAX? Samsung makes WiBro. Motorola doesn't.
- Just what exactly are Intel, Samsung and Motorola contributing to get WiMAX up and running for Sprint? There is no overt million-dollar investment from Intel like we saw in Clearwire, but there has to be some specific incentives. Sprint says Intel, Motorola and Samsung are making commitments in the area of market development, mobile WiMAX devices and other contributions to Sprint's core business.
- Will there be a place for Nortel and Nokia? Nortel has made WiMAX a top priority, but apparently isn't far enough along on a commercial product. Nokia
- What happens to IPWireless? IPWireless, which makes UMTS TD-CDMA, had a lot riding on Sprint's technology decision. Sprint even invested a total of $14 million into the company. While a decision from Sprint in favor of TD-CDMA would have given the technology a significant boost, we'll probably see IPWireless' technology an important part of the next phase of the UMTS standard, LTE. And it could score big with a deal in Japan as well as its mobile TV initiatives.
- How aggressive is Qualcomm going to be in asserting its IPR when it comes to mobile WiMAX now that a big player like Sprint is backing it? The company says it won't charge any incremental royalties for dual-mode products--that is products that include both WiMAX and CDMA or WiMAX and HSDPA.
I welcome your thoughts on the topic.- Lynnette