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WiMAX - Investing to secure a future

02 февраля 2009

About the only thing I’d be willing to wager a bet on when it comes to the WiMAX ecosystem and today’s economy is that there won’t be any execs winging their way by private jet for a meeting to talk about an industry bailout.  The industry is young and for all that it’s been through so far, it has demonstrated an amazing resiliency.  But what will serve to sustain that resiliency in the coming months or years?

In a way today’s WiMAX industry is not too much different that than the burgeoning auto industry of the early 20th century - it’s a relatively new industry and there’s a real market potential for it. The auto industry, likewise, was still young when it encountered a most formidable opponent; the Great Depression.  This young industry was hit hard by the depression and in only 3 years new car production totals in the United States had plummeted to 25% of what they had been in 1929.  Tough times extracted a toll from all but the strongest - the “big 3”.  What set the big 3 apart from their former competitors was recognition of a need for continued innovation.

The WiMAX industry had been feeling the effects of the economic downturn before many were prepared to acknowledge it.  The more obvious manifestations though, have come over the past month or two.  Cuts at Alcatel-Lucent and Motorola and Nortel’s Chapter 11 filing would appear to be in stark contrast with what Chinese manufacturer Huawei is predicting - a 35% increase in 2009 sales.

Innovation during the Great Depression resulted in a number of advancements in the mechanical technology of the automobile.  Can the WiMAX industry make the investments in innovation necessary to weather the storm?  What kind of innovation will be meaningful?  For the auto industry it was the beginning of many of the design features we take for granted:  automatic transmissions, front wheel drive, unibody construction and so on.

The type of innovation that will define those who emerge from these tough times will address the need to remove cost from a carrier’s network.  Long-time WiMAX proponent, Barry West, as CTO of Sprint Nextel at the time, has suggested that on the whole WiMAX represented a cost per bit that was 1/10th of what other broadband wireless technologies could offer.  And this, not surprisingly, seems to be one of the reasons for Huawei’s optimism - a focus on cost efficiency. 

Other necessary innovations and advancements the industry will need to address include reduced device power consumption, interoperability, support for integrated voices services and roaming solutions to highlight just a few.  For those who are willing to make the investment to drive these innovations, the returns will be promising.

Andrew Mitchell, Contributing Editor

Источник: WiMAX Trends

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