The standards-based wireless technology known as WiMAX attracted a lot of attention at this year's Supercomm show in Chicago. While the opportunities it offers both manufacturers and service providers turned heads, the week also revealed that there is much work ahead before this technology is ready for prime time.
WiMAX has a future with its fast speed and wide range of coverage. The initial generation of base-stations will offer broadband access to users over a radius of roughly three to five miles.
The technology promises to fill the gap that currently exists between the local area networking-oriented WiFi technology, and the current wide area networking solutions served by cellular-based packet data networks, which essentially offer low-speed access connectivity. WiMAX has the potential to address a massive sweet spot in the market -- especially as corporations of all sizes increasingly implement "mobility" business strategies that require high-speed wireless access to support field sales and service forces as well to expand the working footprint of their telecommuting employees.
Picking up where WiFi leaves off
While portable services and wireless broadband access available in public areas will likely continue to be dominated by Wi-Fi due to its early lead, a recent study from The Management Network Group (TMNG) and Bear Stearns concludes that mobile services providers will have a significant opportunity to exploit WiMAX's capabilities.
Analysts caution, however, that it will take some time to develop the market since the standards are nascent, and spectrum licenses need to be allocated in order to ensure quality of service requirements. However, once developed there is little doubt WiMAX will generate an impressive amount of revenue.