Interest from airport, utility sectors could ensure WiMAX’s survival
Ron Resnick, president and chairman of the WiMAX Forum, wants the world to know that WiMAX technology isn’t dead.
While headlines talk up operators flipping from WiMAX to LTE, Resnick points to actual growth in the WiMAX market. That growth doesn’t often make headlines, he said, because major vendors are working on publicizing their expertise in LTE — which Resnick acknowledges will dominate the technology choice among the world’s major operators.
“Vendors aren’t blasting out news regarding sales of WiMAX equipment, but they are still doing a lot of business in WiMAX,” Resnick said.
Big operators like Clearwire/Sprint KT in Korea and UQ Communications in Japan are experiencing subscriber growth, as are smaller operators around the world that have no interest in publicizing their growth figures, Resnick said. He said that WIMAX is in more than 30 networks worldwide.
“There is a co-existence story for LTE and WiMAX,” Resnick said.
However, the WiMAX Forum is undergoing a transition of sorts when it comes to priorities and publicizing the life of WiMAX. The forum particularly is excited about vertical market growth. One area poised for significant growth is airport ground communications. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the European Aviation Safety Agency both have chosen WiMAX to run in the 5.3 GHz band for terrestrial communications services at airports, which number more than 2,000 in the U.S. alone. The two agencies have plans to deploy WiMAX technology in the next five years, with a starting point of targeting 200 of the major airports in the next year to 24 months.
“That represents tens of thousands of base stations sold and CPEs to communicate,” Resnick said. “That is the only technology they are betting on. They wouldn’t pick a technology that goes away.”
The other vertical the forum is putting heavy focus on is the smart grid. The forum has established a smart-grid working group to explore how the technology can fit the communications needs of utilities.
“The utility industry and the telecom industry aren’t best friends,” Resnick noted. “They have different interests. Surely the utility doesn’t want to see their world owned and managed by telecom providers trying to sell them all of the services that they have. We’re helping them take a look at the technology and spectrum requirements so that they can drive on their own. WiMAX is a great choice.”
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