Fixed-line broadband will prevail - analyst

Veteran telecommunications analyst Paul Budde has predicted that Wi-Fi won't rival fixed lines, and sees a good future for WiMax

Broadband users will always prefer a fixed line broadband connection, said veteran telecommunications analyst Paul Budde, despite increased interest in wireless technology.

In his latest market report, Budde said that wireless broadband is inviting users' attention as demands for more bandwidth and competition increase.

Budde predicts that a fully developed "wireless broadband communications medium" could provide benefits of cheaper access, faster implementation and flexible configuration, stressing that there are many technologies within the wireless realm.

"There is not one technology but at least a dozen. Each of these technologies offers very specific benefits which could make it an ideal niche market application," Budde stated in the report.

However, he adds that the interconnected nature of the telecommunications industry prevents customers from adopting a new system that few others would be using at this stage.

"There are already more wireless technologies that are obsolete than the ones that have survived," he said.

Budde maintains that wireless will never become an able competitor to the fixed line network, as he said it will never match the "reliability, quality and robustness" that a landline can offer.

"This means that when there is an option, fixed solutions are often preferred," he adds.

Yet Budde upholds that there is an opportunity for wireless to compete in some areas of the broadband market, as he said at least one-third of the fixed line network is currently unsuitable to carry broadband, creating a gap for wireless to fill.

"The reality of wireless broadband for at least the foreseeable future is, that it is better suited for niche market deployment," said Budde; a prospect that, he said, looks very positive.

"Companies that are able to harness the customer benefits of these technologies and who are building the right customer bases around them will be very successful."

Budde said despite his optimistic view for wireless broadband, he fails to see a "good business case" for hot-spot based technology outside of the hotel, airport, campus and in-house niche markets.

"Because of its limitations, Wi-Fi has never had the potential to venture into more lucrative models," he said.

However, Budde said the market failure of Wi-Fi triggered Intel and other vendors to develop the next stage of the technology known as WiMax (802.16), which presents great possibilities for users.

"You simply hook a small device on the outside of your house and your broadband connection is up and running," he said. "With a potential range of 50km, WiMax could be particularly successful in regional areas, and this where several telcos around the world are trialling these services."

"WiMax is also emerging as the frontrunner for a global standard for wireless broadband. All very good signs indeed."

ZDNet Australia's staff reported from Sydney. For more coverage from ZDNet Australia, click here.