Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Rooting For WiMax

I'm rooting for WiMax. That means rooting for Sprint, Google-Intel-backed Clearwire, and anyone else involved in making equipment and gears to support the 4G network. And that's fine with me. I use Intel chips in my Macbook, I'm recently inducted into the exclusive club of Google Wave, and my first mobile service was with Sprint.

A lot has been said about LTE but WiMax for the moment seems to be taking the lead in global deployment while LTE networks are just beginning to come online. Where WiMax seems to be doing well is in Asia. Why is that significant?

While Western economies try to find their way out of the dark, even with signs of stabilization in the financial market, will still take years before the job market recovers and the masses feel good about their future. As an American, I like to think we're a scrappy bunch and we'll be alright. Still, it'll take time.

Meanwhile, Asian tigers continue to go gangbusters as they rely increasingly on the Chinese economy and less so on an US recovery. And as recovery takes place half way around the world from where I'm sitting, and WiMax is being deployed and demanded, I don't see how WiMax will go easily into the night once LTE networks come online.

Here are some statistics that point to the strength of WiMax and why investments by Sprint and Clearwire could pay off in the US:
  • Motorola shipped its 10,000th WiMax access point (Wireless Weekly). That includes 35 contracts all over the world.
  • WiMax equipment accounts for 40% of growth form the previous year (Daily Wireless).
  • 4 Million customers worldwide with 45 new devices to support them.
  • Android. Yes, not the iPhone. Android's flexibility could be WiMax's salvation and the Google backed OS could allow it to become the number one mobile OS in 5 years. Certainly, early support for WiMax could be a marriage made in heaven for the 4G network and the mobile platform.
  • WiMax now available in Philly and Chicago. Previously, I had complained but understood why Sprint hasn't brought the network to bigger markets. Will, they have and will continue to surge forward, just ahead of Verizon Wireless' own 4G network.
  • WiMax investment now pays off later in more ways than one. Aside from revenue, a software upgrade can turn the whole WiMax network to support LTE protocol.
  • Tech island, Taiwan, will show off WiMax-enabled Taxi.
  • Smartphones are beginning to appear on the market support the WiMax network. For instance, The Samsung Moment sports a 3.2 AMOLED touchscreen, full keyboard, 800Mhz CPU (that means fast!), and all for $179 (IntoMobile). Oh, and it's Android-based.
For folks reading Onxo for a while now, you might notice that I am high on T-Mobile and the iPhone (though I own just about every other mobile devices as well). One, T-Mobile isn't ATT, and iPhone, you have to admit (for those of you who can get pass the Apple biases), is second to none on the market right now. Still, I am not married to the network or platform. As a true mobile user, I'll gravitate towards the gears and tools that can best help me do my work.

And this is why I'm pulling for WiMax. It's likely to have a greater impact than pundits out there are willing to admit (because then they'll have to say they're wrong). Plus, having a competitive network in the world is good for the hundreds of millions of mobile warriors worldwide. And just maybe, we'll also see it in other major US markets even before LTE testing is completed.

And for all that I've said above about WiMax living off Asian nations, the US broadband is still one of the largest in the world and what happens here will matter as it is one large pie for developers, device makers, and platforms to support.

So, root for WiMax even if you're not Sprint customer. And who knows, if WiMax comes to your street, seriously, take a 2nd and 3rd look at it. VW is pushing hard for LTE but that's like a year away. And ATT? Right, 3G is still where they're sitting on right now. As for T-Mobile, well, we all know about the rumors of a Sprint buyout (which would be good because that means more cash for WiMax deployment) or cooperation with Sprint on 4G (which is also just as good because it also means more cash for WiMax depolyment).

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