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Wireless Broadband Market: Hype Or Reality?

Wireless Broadband Market: Hype Or Reality?

The Wireless broadband allows new operators to avoid the stranglehold that the incumbent carrier has on the local access market. As the telecoms market is rapidly moving in the direction of broadband, the stakes are much higher than simple telephone calls. Customer demand for more bandwidth and regulatory emphasis on deregulation and competition has boosted interest in wireless broadband as an alternative access technology to the local loop.

Wireless broadband, once developed into a truly versatile broadband communications medium, could offer the following benefits:
- it is cheaper than a wired solution;
- it is faster to implement;
- it can be configured for one or more applications.

However, there is not one technology but at least a dozen. Each of these technologies offer very specific benefits which could make it an ideal niche market application. But telecommunications is an interconnected world and very few customers are thrilled to use a proprietary system that very few others will use. There are already more wireless technologies that are obsolete than the ones that have survived.

It is also important to realise that wireless will never be able to match the reliability; quality and robustness that fixed line offers. This means that when there is an option, fixed solutions are often preferred. Other elements here include security and coverage. A key opportunity here is that in most countries at least a third of the fixed networks is currently unsuitable for broadband, there is a window of opportunity here for wireless broadband.

The reality of wireless broadband for at least the foreseeable future is, that it is better suited for niche market deployment. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. To the contrary companies that are able to harness the customer benefits of these technologies and who are building the right customer bases around them will be very successful.

While Intel has been very successful in getting Wi-Fi chips into laptops, this chip is of little use to most laptop users, since only a very small proportion of laptop owners carry them to cafes and hotels – less than 2% of all users can be classified as road warriors.

I have always maintained that wireless broadband has potential, but, from the beginning, I failed to see a good business case for the hotspot based technology, beyond some excellent niche markets like hotels, airports, campuses, in-house, etc. Because of its limitations, Wi-Fi has never had the potential to venture into more lucrative models. And that’s why Intel and others began, very early on, to develop the next generation of the technology, known as Wi-Max (802.16).

The possibilities are great – you simply hook a small device on the outside of your house and your broadband connection is up and running. With a potential range of 50Km, WiMax could be particularly successful in regional areas, and this where several telcos around the world are trialing these services. WiMax is also emerging as the frontrunner for a global standard for wireless broadband. All very good signs indeed.

The BuddeComm 2004 Global Wireless Broadband Market report addresses all of these issues. The 197 page report describes the various segments in the wireless broadband market around the world and discusses the future of this industry.

Price Single-User PDF license $595 (excl GST for Australian Subscribers)

The reports are available from:
PAUL BUDDE Communication Pty Ltd,
T/As BuddeComm

BuddeComm operates the largest, continually updated, telecommunications research service on the Net

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