Thursday, October 02, 2008

Boon or Bust for Early Adopters of WiMax / GSMA?

Source: PC World
Author: Daniel Lonescu

The makings of a wireless war erupted yesterday when Sprint launched its mobile WiMax broadband network in Baltimore and the GSM Association cut the ribbon the same day on a campaign to push a competing wireless technology, HSDPA broadband.

The GSM Association has ambitions to offer a national high-speed wireless service and is pushing to have its wireless technology hardwired into to small laptops. Sprint and the backers of WiMax also plan to deliver high-speed wireless service nationwide.These two competing technologies will soon be battling it out for mass adoption - similar to what we saw with Blu-ray and HD DVD.

WiMax (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) has the very strong possibility of succeeding Wi-Fi as the future wireless broadband of choice - with a theoretical range of miles. On the other hand HSDPA (High Speed Downlink Packet Access) is the successor or 3G networks (sometimes called 3.5G or 4G Internet). Average speeds for the two technologies are similar as well, with WiMAx ranging from 2 to 4MBs while HSDPA from 1 to 7MBs.
So what's the fuss all about then?

Soon we will see ultramobile (or mini) laptops, like Dell's new incarnation, with built-in mobile broadband chips, trying to convince us to buy into one of the above-mentioned technologies.
The question I have is this: Will the race to deliver WiMax and GSMA wireless broadband be a boon to consumers or will it be a bust for early adopters? The way I look at it is consumers are going to have to decide whether to buy a notebook (or mobile device) based on WiMax or GSMA.

I predict only one standard will ultimately emerge triumphant leaving many consumers buying into a losing technology and forcing them to pay extra to retrofit their wireless gear to support the winning technology.Of course the other option is WiMax and GSMA coexist peacefully - kind of like democrats and republicans (yeah, right!). If you plan on buying an ultramobile laptop with built-in mobile broadband services any time soon, my advice is to wait until the market settles a bit.

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