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Issue of March 2005 
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WiMAX to propel wireless usage

The 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.

 
     
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