BellSouth's WiMAX plans: cannibalization or competitive weapon?

Reuters reports that BellSouth is investigating Wi-MAX technology as an inexpensive (to them, that is) way to provide high-speed Web services in areas where its wired network has been damaged, degraded, or not yet built-up.Testing efforts are scheduled for various BellSouth labs in the coming months, with live testing likely in the fall.

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Reuters reports that BellSouth is investigating Wi-MAX technology as an inexpensive (to them, that is) way to provide high-speed Web services in areas where its wired network has been damaged, degraded, or not yet built-up.

Testing efforts are scheduled for various BellSouth labs in the coming months, with live testing likely in the fall. 

BellSouth vice-president for development Michael Bowling throws a strike by noting that communications difficulties encountered after Hurricane Katrina is providing the impetus for this effort. 

"There's a higher level of customer interest in these solutions based on the hurricanes," he says. 

Still, I have to wonder about the future of BellSouth Wi-MAX testing and innovation once the Atlanta-based regional telco becomes part of AT&T. Will such an effort be seen as cannibalistic to high-margin, fee-laden, AT&T broadband Internet service, or as a high-stakes competitive weapon against Wi-Fi islands?

My sense is both. It will be interesting to see how this one plays out. 

Hey Roger Ramjet, our resident WiMAX "true believer," what do you think?