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Mobile WiMAX to Succeed Where Muni WiFi Failed? 93

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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  • by Wesley Felter ( 138342 ) <wesley@felter.org> on Thursday September 27, 2007 @04:58PM (#20774265) Homepage
    The article oversimplifies a little when it says that WiFi uses unlicensed spectrum and WiMax used licenses spectrum; in theory WiMax can operate in the unlicensed 3.8GHz band, but equipment that actually supports that band is scarce and performance will be worse in 5.8GHz than in licensed 2.5GHz. Also, it's not clear that municipalities could get 2.5GHz licenses even if they wanted them; AFAIK the licenses have virtually all been bought by Sprint and Clearwire, who presumably have no desire to divest them. Given these factors, cities appear to have a choice between 2.4GHz WiFi, 5.8GHz WiFi, and 5.8GHz WiMax; it's not clear to me that one has a decisive advantage.
  • Re:Doubt it. (Score:4, Informative)

    by fishdan ( 569872 ) on Thursday September 27, 2007 @05:08PM (#20774393) Homepage Journal
    Considering that there are businesses [terrapingeographic.com] in place betting on this, you can be sure that people will get that stuff to market. As for cards they also have to be licensed by the FCC [arstechnica.com]. But WiMax is going to be online very soon [arstechnica.com] -- Motorola will now not only be developing the network in Chicago, but also in Detroit, Grand Rapids, Indianapolis, Kansas City, and Minneapolis. Samsung will also be developing the market in a number of cities: Baltimore, Boston, Philadelphia, Providence, and the previously-announced Washington D.C. Finally, Nokia will be responsible for developing the network in Austin, Dallas, Denver, Fort Worth, Portland, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, and Seattle. All in all, Sprint plans to roll out WiMAX in 19 cities across the US by April 2008.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 27, 2007 @05:25PM (#20774647)
    My job currently involves working closely with WiFi and my company is one of those rolling out WiMax solutions. I'm one of the tech monkeys who end up reading papers and papers and have to come up with ideas. The two solutions do not have to be an "either this or that". They can be complementary. For starters there are two basic kinds of WiMax, fixed and mobile. The fixed solution can give you either long distance, or large bandwidth, but not both. The mobile solution gives up both large bandwidth and ultra long distance for mobility and is a different beast altogether. An ideal deployment scenario would be to utilize the WiMax for the last mile solution or medium haul and WiFi for the local cells. Mobility within those cells can be handled with Mobile IP, and if the user leaves the area of WiFi coverage, then it can fall back on the WiMax link (if it has a WiMax card). There's no reason to pick one over the other, choose both!
  • Everyone Forgets... (Score:4, Informative)

    by CompMD ( 522020 ) on Thursday September 27, 2007 @05:45PM (#20774913)
    Both failures and successes so easily. Everyone wants to think that their idea was first and the best.

    For a failure, Sprint tried long range microwave broadband several years ago. They were going to add it to their ION service offering, but when ION got killed, so did the microwave broadband project. Sprint isn't known for their quality of support either. Having them go back into this business is a scary prospect.

    Who says municipal wifi failed? A couple big cities that do not make up a huge percentage of land area or population of the US failed at it, and that makes the news. What doesn't make the news are the successes of nonprofit municipal partnerships such as Lawrence Freenet [lawrencefreenet.org]. I'm a happy subscriber to my municipal wifi service, and I have excellent coverage everywhere in a city of 100,000 people. Municipal wifi has not failed, but many have failed to manage it.

  • by Wesley Felter ( 138342 ) <wesley@felter.org> on Thursday September 27, 2007 @05:53PM (#20775013) Homepage
    Typo; I meant 5.8GHz.
  • What about HSDPA? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Flipao ( 903929 ) on Thursday September 27, 2007 @06:07PM (#20775183)
    It blows both EDGE and GPRS away in terms of bandwith and latency, and has a much wider coverage than WiFi and WiMax could ever hope for, it's only drawback could be a higher battery drain, but research focus has recently shifted towards maximizing power for portable devices.

    I think WiFi is better suited towards local networking just as Bluetooth is useful to eliminate the need for wires, I don't see how WiMax can make that much of an impact unless they use an incredibly competitive pricing scheme...
  • Minneapolis (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 27, 2007 @06:16PM (#20775305)
    I can't speak to what's going on in SF or other cities, but Minneapolis is moving forward with Wi-Fi. This page (http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/wirelessminneapolis/) is the city's information, and this page (http://www.usiwireless.com/service/minneapolis/schedule.htm) has US Internet's schedule for implementation. I'm not planning to use this, but afaik it's moving forward.
  • by neurocutie ( 677249 ) on Thursday September 27, 2007 @07:15PM (#20776003)
    Of the four major cellular carriers (Verizon, AT&T, Tmobile and Sprint), Sprint's data prices are the CHEAPEST -- broadband EVDO at $15/mo (everyone else is $20/mo or more).

    Sure, I'd love it to be free, but you really can't take Sprint to task for having expensive data service...

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