Friday, May 30, 2008

WiMAX for the Home, Not Just Cell

A colleague of mine lives in the countryside, just over an hour away from the office. He has been struggling with having to use dial-up whenever he works from home. Why? He's tried every option under the sun to get high-speed in his home, but to no avail. Recently, he signed on for a WiMAX service, and has, for the first time, been able to e-mail me a 2 MB image in less than 30 minutes, and actually watch streaming video from sites like YouTube. What a relief, since he was getting tired of having to drive out to the local Starbucks to use their WiFi connection! This made me think of WiMAX in a whole new light: as an alternate to your in-home, fixed broadband connection.

Up until now, I've only thought of WiMAX's potential in a very limited sense: the ability to access the 'net and use devices anywhere, and seamlessly when moving from the home to the outside world. Sort of like an advanced version of WiFi, which, in a sense, it definitely is. But now I have begun to understand it's possibilities as an alternative just in the home.

Research firm In-Stat echoes my sentiment in a recent report. "There has been little to no consideration of WiMAX competing head-to-head against fixed broadband." The company went on to call this a "major oversight".

It's true. WiMAX is great for that seamless, connected experience while you're driving about, and it's fantastic for people like my colleague who don't have any other option for high-speed. But can WiMAX compete with fixed broadband services in every area, as simply another option? Probably. After all, why does Internet access have to be separated by what you have at home, and what you use everywhere else?

In-Stat predicts that, rather than a host of new WiMAX providers competing to convert standard broadband customers over to their more ubiquitous service, traditional broadband operators may just extend their own offerings and add WiMAX as another plan option. In a survey the research company conducted in the U.S., more than 40% of respondents said they would be willing to tack on an additional $10-15 to their monthly Internet service plan to get WiMAX. I fall into that category myself: it just makes sense.

On a borader note, will we eventually see a time where WiMAX blankets the entire developed world, and we literally become "always connected"? It's an exciting, yet scary, proposition.

[With WiMAX, Internet customers will be able to seamlessly access wireless Internet in their homes, and high in the sky, without interruption.]

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Anonymous said...

2 MB image in less than 30 minutes or 30 seconds? The latter makes more sense to me. We've been playing with WiMAX at work, and on a system with no users and a fairly loose throttle, we were seeing sustained download speeds of 8 megabytes per second and upload speeds of 2 megabytes per second. Not bad for fixed microwave wireless.

Marketnews - Christine Persaud said...

Hi Anonymous,

Perhaps I was exaggerating just a bit, but it does (rather did) take him AGES to send or receive high-resolution files via e-mail from the old dial-up service he used...certainly more than 30 seconds! I remember when I used to download tunes from the original Napster service - I would select the song of my choice, then leave the PC for 20-30 min. because that's how long it took to download one tune!

Thanks for the comment.

hizark21 said...

Wimax will really take off when Wimax home routers become more abundant. Till now Wimax has been thought of as a service by most people. Imagine what will happen when Wimax phones become available. You will have the ultimate mobile phone. With a potential of range of up to 50 miles this will put a lot of pressure on the the cell phone companies.