WiMAX to propel wireless usage
worldwide wireless communications market has been growing robustly in the recent
past, and the emergence of the standards-based Wireless Inter-operability for
Microwave Access (WiMAX) is expected to further this popularity. WiMAX is likely
to become the third-most widely used high-speed Internet access technology following
DSL and cable modem, its key competitors.
"Customers are more confident about accepting a specifications- and standards-based
product, and this is tilting the balance in favour of WiMAX," explains
Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Arjun Chokkappan.
Lower costs, continuous product evolution, and flexibility in switching suppliers
are driving the uptake of WiMAX-based products. Success in mass markets, coupled
with an increase in the number of technology providers, is making this technology
more accessible and affordable.
WiMAX promises interoperability in Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) systems through
a unique subset of baseline features known as system profiles that let equipment
from multiple vendors interoperate. That said, WiMAX still needs to prove its
capabilities in terms of quality of service (QoS). Interference within the same
frequency, in particular, demands immediate attention.
"This is likely to prove challenging as the 802.16 standard operates in
unlicensed spectrums," explains Chokkappan. "With the number of service
providers on the rise, chances of interference are greater."
Another challenge is competition from existing technologies such as Wi-Fi, cable
and DSL, in which customers have invested heavily.
WiMAX is looking to meet the latest demands in the wireless communications market
for efficient VoIP, superior performance, and higher reliability in the wireless
industry that is not being met by existing technologies.
"Given the fact that it is not a line-of-sight technology, its support
for VoIP and interoperability capabilities, WiMAX has the potential to co-exist
with, if not upstage, current technologies," observes Chokkappan.
A combination of Wi-Fi and WiMAX for cellular phones, laptops and PDAs is an
emerging trend. The hybrid Wi-Fi-WiMAX combination lets service providers support
access through Wi-Fi and backhaul by means of WiMAX.
WiMAX can also look to upstaging DSL, particularly in the rural areas of Asia
and East Europe where it is expensive to deploy cable or DSL.