Real live Wimax deployment…

Posted: October 8, 2006 in Uncategorized

Networkworld writes about a real live Wimax deployment.
Yes, you’ve read that right. No testbed or lab deployment but one in a real live environment, with real people even!
Where is it?
New York?
LA?
Tokyo?
London?
No, it’s in the town of Hanna, Alberta Canada!
Poulation 996 people, 16 restaurants, 10 churches, seven motels, and six WiMAX towers.

This rural farming town about two hours northeast of Calgary, adrift on Canada’s ocean of ‘short grass country,’ is on the cutting edge of fixed broadband wireless deployment in North America.
At this week’s WiMAX World conference in Boston, multimillion-dollar chip vendors, equipment builders, carriers and network providers will be promising to do what a tiny start-up, Netago Wireless, has already begun in Hanna: deploying Nortel base stations and customer premises gear (called subscriber stations) with radios based on the IEEE 802.16d fixed WiMAX standard.

While I applaude the fact that we are finally are seeing some real life Wimax usage I do not think this is the way forward.
How many subscribers does Negato have: 70
What is their potential numbe rof subscribers in Hanna? At a guess 500 or so…
Now they have 6 towers, backhaul and a 3.5GHz license to pay for and in my opinion they are looking at a very long time before there is any ROI.
I suspect that they recieved a hefty government grant and got the hardware at knock-off prices from Nortel.
Negato might be making money that way but it doesn’t show a realistic business model for Wimax.
Then again I could be wrong…

And for those interested in the performance of Wimax in a real life environment I will quote from the article:

Customers today can select from three data plans, delivering uplink speeds of 1.5Mbps to 3Mbps, and downlink speeds of about 512Kbps. The plans are priced from $35 to $150 (U.S.).

And

Last January, not wanting to troubleshoot and configure the base stations outdoors in the bitter Alberta cold, the engineers tossed one of Nortel’s indoor WiMAX subscriber units onto the dashboard of their pickup. They used an Ethernet cable to connect a laptop and then drove all over with it, testing the bandwidth. With good line of sight to the base station, they held onto data rates of 2Mbps to 3Mbps up to 10 miles away, Duchcherer says.

Not exactly mindblowing and far from the performance hyped in the press.

This confirms my conviction that Wimax is far from ready for large scale deployments and that the protocol has to mature a lot more before we will actually see a performance that warrants the hype.
I do however believe that Wimax is next step forward however the hype has created an audience expecting un-realistic performances and I am afraid that a failure to perform to these hyped up standards might have a negative effect on customers “trust” in the technology once it is deployed on a larger scale.
Personally (and that is excactly the way Wimax EU will do it) I think that the way forward is a combined one. Create a Wimax backbone with a WiFi edge on it. The delivery of bandwidth and services will be via WiFi innitially. Then migrate to offering Wimax fixed wireless service to corporate customers. Then by the time both protocols have fully matured you can seamlessly upgrade your network to Wimax only…

See here for the full article.

E.
kick it on kick.ie

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