3GSM World Congress may be a GSM Association event, but in nearly every conversation with an operator, the term WiMAX seems to come up. Sprint CTO and President 4G Mobile Broadband Barry West, of course, is at the show to champion the technology and defend his deployment choice.
West says that many operators are viewing WiMAX as the creation of another cellular network. HSPA and 1xEV-DO will offer a "reasonable experience" but WiMAX offers a less-expensive alternative and will allow the operator to create what he believes will be a whole new market. West envisions an "all-you-can-eat" broadband access alternative that follows the Internet model, and not the cellular model.
And he believes that the WiMAX ecosystem is rapidly coming together. West notes that the company now has three top manufacturers-Motorola, Samsung and Nokia-committed to devices and infrastructure gear. Plus he believes that the low-cost of the WiMAX chip set-which Nokia yesterday said would drop to about 7 Euros per chip by 2008-will allow carriers to sell WiMAX devices to subscribers without a subsidy.