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We mainly focus on backhauling and tower leasing, by exploring several opportunities for significant cost savings, like aggregating the backhaul traffic and optimal use of tower space. WiMAX is all about
Figure 6.4 WiMAX vs DSL
Local Area Fixed Metro Area Mobile Wide Area
Figure 6.5 WiMAX vs other access technologies
delivering broadband wireless access to the masses. It represents an inexpensive alternative to DSL and cable broadband access. The installation costs for a wireless infrastructure based on 802.16 are far less than those for todays wired solutions, which often require cables to be laid and buildings and streets to be ripped up.
For this reason, WiMAX makes an attractive solution for providing the last-mile connection in wireless metropolitan area networks. Many countries in Europe have long-established copper networks where up to 40% of the fixed-line subscribers cannot benefit from DSL because of distance limitations or the use of pair-gain technology (using network amplifier systems to increase the strength of signals on paired wires; Figure 6.5).
Broadband Wireless Access Technologies
The history of broadband wireless has been largely one of disappointment. Pioneers like Teligent, Nextlink and Winstar entered the market in the late 1990s with networks based on cost-effective local multipoint distribution
EXPANDING COMPETITION: WiMAX
system (LMDS), but they played safe and stayed in over-served metropolitan areas of the USA rather than remote regions, and, having paid huge federal fees for their licences, all three companies filed for bankruptcy.
Carriers such as MCI and Sprint invested in an alternative, multichannel multipoint distribution system (MMDS) but failed to gain significant market momentum. Hence there was excitement around Wi-Fi hotspots, hotzones and community networks, but coverage scalability beyond a few nodes was hard to achieve without performance failures.
Since 2000, the BWA industry has matured. The big differences from the past are that:
BWA has survived the recession;
market consolidation has begun;
operators are growing with excellent gross margins;
improved equipment is available;
costs have declined and financing is available;
uptime has improved;
WiMAX is coming;
the public perception of wireless has improved;
Wi-Fi hype has increased awareness of BWA/WISP opportunities;
there are proven track record and referrals.
This has led to industry opportunities:
re-emergence of interest in BWA funding;
few regional players are poised for rapid growth with strong operations and management expertise;
growth potential of WiMAX standard.
However, the BWA market is still developing:
there is no successful national broadband wireless carrier, even today;
major telco carriers are still at the residential trials stage;
the market is highly fragmented, primarily with just local operators;
small players are hitting the limits of management expertise and lack capital to expand.
BWA did not achieved widespread acceptance because of high customer acquisition costs:
expensive CPE/SS - ^$500-1000;
expensive LOS installation - requires truck roll/technician;
unable to cost-effectively support QoS for more advanced services (VoIP);
NLOS for indoor CPE.
Enter WiMAX, promising a lower cost backhaul for these hotspots than T1 and the option of a mesh network topology, as well as being a wireless extension to cable, fibre and DSL for last-mile connection. WiMAX is not a new technology. It is a more innovative and commercially viable adaptation of a technology already used to deliver broadband wireless services in proprietary installations around the globe. Wireless broadband access systems are already deployed in more than 125 countries.
What differentiates 802.16 from earlier BWA iterations is standardization. In these earlier solutions, the chipsets were custom-built for each broadband wireless access vendor, requiring a great deal of time and cost. Intel, Fujitsu and others would like to bring economies of scale to broadband wireless cost savings that would go a long way towards creating a larger market.
The Industry is waiting for a WiMAX opportunity:
WiMAX will change the model (Table 6.1).
WiMAX has emerged and everybody is getting excited again. It is no accident that the name sounds like Wi-Fi. Although the two technologies are different, WiMAX proponents would like nothing better than to emulate and even overtake the success of 802.11. Several factors foreshadow a smoother acceptance of WiMAX than previous wireless technologies.
WiMAX has been designed so that it does not require LOS, and should allow higher speed downloads over much longer ranges than Wi-Fi. In part, this is because devices will support certain licensed spectrum bands, enabling them to transmit at higher power levels than would be possible using the Wi-Fi unlicensed spectrum. The description of WiMAX as Wi-Fi on steroids is already on its way to becoming a cliche.