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Mobile WiMAX to Succeed Where Muni WiFi Failed? 93

Posted by Zonk
from the just-get-me-some-wi-whatever dept.
WiNot writes "WiMAX's supporters are positioning Mobile WiMAX as an alternative to municipal WiFi networks in the wake of recent cancellation or postponement of muni WiFi projects in Chicago and San Francisco. 'There's no business case for municipal WiFi ... With many municipal WiFi deployments in a holding pattern, it may be Sprint's Xohm WiMAX network will be up and running before muni WiFi can get its act together.' From what Ars saw during its Motorola-sponsored cruise on the Chicago River earlier this week, WiMAX has the potential to deliver the goods in terms of speed, latency, and reliability. If Sprint hits its goal of blanketing metropolitan areas with WiMAX in a timely fashion and prices the service attractively, the kind of expansive municipal WiFi networks once envisioned in Chicago, Houston, and San Francisco could go the way of Pets.com and Flooz."
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Mobile WiMAX to Succeed Where Muni WiFi Failed?

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  • Doubt it. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Thursday September 27, 2007 @04:47PM (#20774129) Homepage Journal
    Here are the two biggest problems.

    1) Where can I buy a WiMAX wireless adapter? Hint: AFAICS, you can't. Do a search on Pricewatch or Froogle, or even go to Sprint's Web page. OTOH, every laptop being produced today comes with support for 802.11a, b, g, and/or n.

    2) WiMAX uses licensed spectrum. Cities looking to provide WiMAX service need an FCC license to do anything.
  • by composer777 (175489) * on Thursday September 27, 2007 @05:07PM (#20774375)
    There's no reason to believe that municipalities wouldn't be able to deploy WIMAX as effectively as Sprint, is there?
  • Limitations (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 27, 2007 @05:12PM (#20774453)
    Does anyone truly think that Sprint, a mobile phone company, is not going to try to limit ports and nickel and dime the consumer to death. I foresee VOIP blocks, huge limitations on what you can use the bandwidth for, and maybe even per minute or bandwidth charges. Why would they lose buisness in one market to support another. This is why we need an independent third option.
  • Re:Doubt it. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by UninvitedCompany (709936) on Thursday September 27, 2007 @05:23PM (#20774613)
    Take a look at what http://www.clearwire.com/ [clearwire.com] is doing for an idea of pricing for the devices and service and for the kinds of adapters available. The technology they are using is fundamentally very similar to WiMax.

    The municipal WiFi players don't have spectrum, but they do have mounting locations and (in some cases) backhaul. Not trivial assets when contemplating a deployment.
  • by sczimme (603413) on Thursday September 27, 2007 @05:23PM (#20774615)

    IIRC, the goal of the municipal wi-fi deployments was usually to provide free Internet access to people working in and passing through downtown areas. This idea was loudly and vigorously shouted down by the organizations that provide for-pay Internet access. The roadblocks to the municipal projects were not technical; they were political.

    It seems a bit disingenuous to compare a free-to-the-end-user project* (municipal wi-fi) with a fee-paid-by-the-end-user project (wi-max service).

    * Yes, municipal services are paid for with taxes. However, there remains a distinction between this and paying directly for a specific service: think of driving on a typical interstate vice driving on a toll road.

  • Wimax World (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Darth Cider (320236) on Thursday September 27, 2007 @05:30PM (#20774697)
    Here's a roundup of Wimax products [dailywireless.org] featured at Wimax World, where the Sprint demo took place. Scarcity of Wimax products will not be a problem.

    I've been intrigued by Eric Schmidt's comment at the keynote introduction of the iPhone. "Wimax is coming," he said, without elaborating. Googling that phrase shows that almost no journalists have considered it an important remark, even though in the next breath he coined the term "applegoog" to describe how closely Google would be collaborating with Apple. "To merge without merging," as he put it. Later, Google announced its 700MHz interests, announced a collaboration with Sprint, which has announced its partnership with Clearwire (the two big Wimax telcos) and journalists still aren't paying attention.

    So, yeah, Wimax could become the next munifi. It could also turn into serious headaches for AT&T, Verizon, and any company without a Wimax investment.
  • by tlambert (566799) on Thursday September 27, 2007 @06:14PM (#20775279)
    "No business case [for municipal WiFi]..."

    It seems to me that there is no business case for public parks, either.

    Not everything has to be about turning a profit for someone.

    -- Terry
  • by MikeFM (12491) on Thursday September 27, 2007 @11:37PM (#20778195) Homepage Journal
    If they did then the phone companies would sue for unfair competition and get the projects shut down. It's not fair for citizens to compete with their corporate overlords.

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