WiMax Boosters See Opportunity in the Air

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Looking at the state of broadband Internet access globally, the WiMax Forum believes it is sitting pretty.

In general numbers, out of 6 billion people on Earth, about 3 billion now use mobile phones and a billion or so are connected to the Internet. But only 400 million people have a high-speed Internet connection, meaning that WiMax wireless broadband has a big opportunity to "capture a big chunk of the market," said Ron Resnick, president of the WiMax Forum.

Resnick delivered a keynote address here at WiMax World, where other speakers touted the technology's attractiveness, especially in developing nations.

Arguing that WiMax is well ahead of rival high-speed wireless technology Long Term Evolution (LTE), he said, "We have a time-to-market advantage that's ours to lose."

That sentiment is apparently shared by the many equipment makers and carriers in attendance at WiMax World. More than a dozen of the vendors this week are showing off devices and equipment based on the mobile WiMax standard, including laptop air cards or USB dongles and access points (some that stand on a tabletop). Equipment is available that can be used in a home to connect PCs, televisions, laptops, digital cameras and phones to a WiMax network. Motorola Inc. and Samsung were among the biggest equipment makers touting their wares.

But hardware is only a part of the ecosystem that will make WiMax work, Resnick noted, pointing to the need for capable applications and network providers to round out the solution.

The WiMax Forum has seen so much growth in WiMax that it recently launched an online interactive map showing 407 deployments of both fixed and mobile WiMax in 133 countries globally. A user can click on the map and find out information about the location, carrier and other details about WiMax coverage.

The WiMax Forum is also conducting a certification process of chip sets used in a variety of WiMax gear and is conducting tests in several labs around the world. In all, the WiMax Forum expects to certify 100 products by the end of 2008, with more than a 1,000 products by the end of 2011.

This story, "WiMax Boosters See Opportunity in the Air" was originally published by Computerworld.

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