Is there still hope for WiMAX in the UK?
By Stewart Mitchell
Posted on 23 Aug 2010 at 14:29
WiMAX may look to be dying off, but broadband potential could mean there's still life in the system yet, according to the company running it in the UK.
The claim follows widespread speculation that Intel is distancing itself from the technology it once backed vociferously to the tune of $1.2 billion. Earlier this summer, Intel shut its WiMAX programme office, which many took as a sign of the beginning of the end for a technology that was once touted as the Great New Hope for mobile data services.
Instead of opting for WiMAX, the UK’s mobile carriers are expected to move to Long Term Evolution (LTE) for the 4G services that are increasingly required to meet the data demands from smartphone users.
The two technologies have been seen as rivals, but UK Broadband says WiMAX could still have a role to play in filling gaps in the UK wireless data market and be a viable broadband alternative, even if mobile phone companies choose to roll out LTE.
Roll to play
"We're finalising plans on how to take it to market," said Martin Petheram, director of commercial development at UK Broadband, which holds the radio spectrum licenses for running the wide-area network technology in the UK.
"We're looking at a wholesale B2B network for practical applications in vertical markets, we're not talking about groovy handsets," he told PC Pro. "In some areas this will include working with the public sector, but WiMAX will have a role to play in providing a universal service commitment for broadband in rural areas.
WiMAX will have a role to play in providing a universal service commitment for broadband in rural areas
“Current networks in many areas are overburdened in terms of capacity, and we could address these issues by working with partners to offload capacity from the mobile networks,” Petheram said. “For example, they could issue dual-mode 3G/WiMAX dongles, so that mobile broadband on laptops could be pushed onto WiMAX.”
Although LTE looks likely to be the technology of choice for internet-to-smartphone communications, the fact that even O2 - which is running trials of LTE in Slough - admits that 4G services won’t arrive in the UK for “years rather than months” suggests WiMAX might still have a window of opportunity in the UK.
Dead as a Dodo
Nope. Old technology. But then it wouldn't surprise me if the industry decides to take the UK into a technological backwater. The technology is redundant, but the UK isn't exactly known to be forward thinking. Too many old folks controlling the purse strings.
By mbassoc on 23 Aug 2010
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