The future's rural...
Traditional broadband players and mobile operators will be giving WiMax a wide berth for the years to come, new research predicts.
According to a report by Capgemini, a number of significant factors including cost, speed and the uncertain regulatory environment will serve to hobble WiMax.
The consultancy predicts that the millions of pounds spent on 3G licences, alongside the increased number of base stations needed to run a network, will deter mobile operators from investing in the long range wireless broadband technology.
Cost will also put off would-be broadband providers, as the falling cost of DSL access – down by over 20 per cent in 2003 and 2004 – will make it hard for pure play WiMax companies to enter the broadband market.
For mobile WiMax to become profitable, Capgemini said, providers will need to sign up a third of current data card users – that's 300,000 individuals.
WiMax proponents will additionally have to resolve issues of speed, the report said. With current speeds on WiMax networks between 1 and 3Mbps, the technology is still matched by HSDPA-upgraded 3G networks, which offer speeds of 1.8Mbps. Lack of bandwidth will also rule out the option of triple play providers using the technology.
However, the consultancy does predict a future for WiMax, serving communities outside the reaches of wired infrastructure. China, for example, could possibly take up the technology as 60 per cent of its population are not currently connected.