Mobile WiMAX Cooking- But Still in the Kitchen  

It’s impossible to predict the fate of Xohm, says Popular Mechanics. But it’s happening — for better or worse. WiMAX, at least in its fixed iteration, is a done deal.

Alvarion boasts over 200 commercial WiMAX deployments worldwide. Alcatel-Lucent is participating in more than 70 trials and deployments of WiMax technology around the world while Intel has sunk literally billions in the technology and infrastructure.

The 2.5 GHz spectrum profile is considered to be the “sweet spot” for many of the world’s initial deployments for mobile WiMAX, including Japan, Taiwan, and the United States.

The deployments in 110 different countries, from India and China to Chile and Argentina, have some significant differences from Sprint’s proposed network, but could still offer an interesting peek at what the United States may be in for—and what further missteps to avoid.

In India, for example, Tata Communications has begun rolling out a WiMAX service for consumers and businesses as a fixed wireless solution. India’s Tata is aiming for between 200,000 and 500,000 WiMAX subscribers by March of next year.

Some early WiMAX launches have not met expectations. In Australia, Buzz Broadband made headlines in the geekosphere when it pulled the plug on its WiMAX initiative, which was aimed at providing VoIP phone service.

Sprint’s Xohm service is currently in “soft launch” mode in Chicago and the Baltimore-Washington area, according to Sprint spokesman John Polivka. The full launch, however, has already been pushed back from this spring to “later this year” because of a lack of back-haul capacity.

Sprint believes it has a two-year head start on LTE, and rumors abound that one of the losers in the government’s 700-MHz auction, Google, is considering an investment in Sprint’s WiMAX service. It could be an ideal play to match Google’s open mobile phone platform, Android.

Also rumored to be interested in ponying up as much as $2.5 billion for a nationwide WiMAX network are cable companies Comcast and Time Warner, which are looking for new ways to reach mobile subscribers. And after what Verizon and AT&T have already spent, that size of an investment may seem like a bargain. Only time will tell.

Clearwire and Sprint still haven’t resurrected their now-defunct plan for a collaborative nationwide mobile WiMAX buildout, but the two companies have aligned on common network architecture, says RCR Wireless News. Clearwire completed the first phase of Mobile WiMAX testing, involving 15 square miles in Washington County just west of Portland, in April, 2007. Then it focused on a beta network covering 145 square miles, most of Washington County. Clearwire is using Motorola base stations.

When Clearwire’s Mobile WiMAX service launches in the summer of 2008, it should cover some 700 square miles, incorporating 3-4 ajoining counties (above). Clearwire CTO John Saw says backhaul of WiMAX networks require 30-60 Mbps per site with blanket coverage of the entire 700 sq mile Portland region requiring WiMAX nodes installed on some 80 cell sites.

One of the first mobile WiMAX devices will be a Nokia N810 WIMAX Tablet for $455 at

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