It never fails. When WiMAX breaks news you know ZDNet reader Roger Ramjet will kindly remind you that the WiMAX steamroller is going to flatten out anything in its way. Hype or not, activity and interest in the emerging broadband wireless technology is on the rise again. While current interest is still far from its peak in April when Intel started shipping WiMAX chips, it’s still considerable relative to where it was at the start of 2005. The chart below shows BT Trax trending data for the last six months.
The latest round of news to push WiMax back into the spotlight can be easily pinpointed to two sources. The first was speculation of the Apple-Intel deal, in which a widely-read CNET News.com story cited an AppleInsider member saying that Apple’s switchover to Intel was likely just for its WiMax chips.
Then this week came along Supercomm 2005, a trade show that also breathed new life into WiMAX. A CNET News.com story covering the event said, "It's clear here in Chicago that WiMax--once eschewed as an undeveloped plaything for geeks, and beset by interoperability testing problems--has once again caught the attention of major carriers and equipment makers."
But buzz can be a tricky thing. A Future in Review panel pointed out last month that "the wireless technology is overhyped and overpromised." Ovum confirms; "All the marketing hype surrounding WiMAX has undoubtedly contributed to industry awareness of the technology, but it has also created unrealistic expectations for both performance and product availability for such an immature market."
Hype aside, I’d plan for the technical issues solved and the fully mobile 802.16e specification ratified in the coming years, and then the WiMAX steamroller will be chugging along what Gartner calls the "plateau of productivity."