The State of WiMax: What’s the real deal?
A couple of days ago, I attended a WiMax forum hosted by Intel Philippines. They are helping push the use of WiMax in emerging markets where there are very low but fast growing PC users. Why?
Well, let’s just say that internet connectivity is a single biggest motivation why many households purchase a PC (and Intel is hoping it come with one of their CPUs). As one Intel executive puts it — “there’s no such thing as demand for WiMax, just demand for broadband connectivity”.
So the next question is, why WiMax? What’s the big deal, really? Here are some tidbits I’d like to share from what I gathered during the forum:
- There are abour 460 WiMax deployments in 135 countries worldwide for fixed, portable and mobile networks.
- Local commercial WiMax have been conducted jointly by Intel and telcos as early as 2005.
- Broadband subscription in the Philippines is still low at only 1.3 million or 7% of households. Aside from 3G, 4G WiMax may help reach places not normally lined up with fixed cable/DSL lines.
- In the Philippines, commercial WiMax is allocated at the 2.3GHz and the 2.5GHz band with 15-30MHz spectrum size. Deployment has been made at the 2nd half of 2008 and follows the 802.16e standard and peaks at 60+Mbps.
As for the commercial WiMax deployments in the country, here are some basic questions and my own answers to them:
- Q. Why is Globe WiMax only deployed in Southern Luzon and not Metro Manila?
A. Providers like Globe Telecom, which already has existing fixed lines in Metro Manila, will logically want to expand their network so it’s only logical their WiMax network will be offered to places where they don’t have lines (DSL) yet. You don’t want to eat your own market share with redundant services.
- Q. How about the WiMax by Happy Communications?
A.Happy Communications has WiMax since 2008 serving Metro Manila because they don’t have existing fixed line so wireless is a much cheaper and faster approach to built a new network, especially if you are a new player. They only service enterprise and business though (not sure about the price of Php25k/month for 2Mbps) and are still planning on residential offerings.
- Q.Why Globe WiMax only offers 512Kbps?
A. It’s a start. They will offer higher bandwidths in the future (Smart Bro also started out at 384Kbs and is now at 2Mbps). Besides, they may not have enough capacity shoudl there be a deluge of new customers in those locations. besides, the introductory price of Php799 is already a good deal.
- Q. What type of usage model is Globe offering?
A. There are 3 types of usage models and Globe is offering the Fixed Access model. That means subscribers will be given a tranceiver that will be installed in their homes. That rules out direct connection for WiMax-ready mobile phones and laptops (Nomadic or Full Mobility usage models).
- Q. Is WiMax better than fixed DSL?
A. In theory no — fixed lines are still more reliable and have better latency.
- Q. Is WiMax better than 3G?
A. They didn’t call WiMax as 4G for nothing — think of WiMax as your regular WiFi connection extended to a couple of nkilometers wide. Basically, with 4G, you get better bandwidths than 3G can offer. Globe WiMax is under the IEEE 802.16e standard and has a maximum capacity of 60Mbps.
- Q.Is Smart going to offer WiMax too?
A.I think they also announced they are planning to roll-out a Smart WiMax of some sorts but there’s no concrete details yet.