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Coonan keen on mobile OPEL WiMax

While OPEL is sticking to its fixed WiMax guns, Communications Minister Helen Coonan has said there's no reason why the company couldn't move to the mobile variant of WiMax in the future.

While OPEL is sticking to its fixed WiMax guns, Communications Minister Helen Coonan has said there's no reason why the company couldn't move to the mobile variant of WiMax in the future.

Following the announcement of AU$1 billion funding for the bush WiMax network, the Coalition was criticised for supporting fixed WiMax -- which many believe will be superseded in take-up, compatible device numbers and innovation within a few years.

On the subject of mobile WiMax, Coonan told ZDNet Australia: "If you wait for the ideal, you're never going to get anything."

Fixed WiMax is typically used to provide fixed connectivity via a laptop card, whereas mobile WiMax enables the type of connectivity associated with cellular connections -- the ability to hold a connection whilst the user is moving, even at speed.

The Minister said that she "certainly has aspirations" to see the network move towards the "mobile pathway", but added that the government is not in the habit of picking technologies, which it leaves to tenderers for government contracts.

Asked by ZDNet Australia if the government would consider providing funding in the future to advance a mobile upgrade, Coonan said: "That's piling hypothetical on hypothetical but the funding agreement doesn't shut that out."

While OPEL has remained tight-lipped on the details of its planned WiMax network, it is expected to plump for 802.16d at 5.8GHz -- a decision that has been questioned by industry observers.

Speaking today at the Gartner Symposium, Robin Simpson, research director at Gartner, said: "The choice of technology that really only operates fixed applications ... seems market limiting. It's a decision that surprised me."

"Mobile technology at a lower frequency would make a lot more sense," he added.