However, with advancement of technology, the minimum data rate accepted as broadband has increased over time. OECD considers Internet connectivity capable of download speeds of at least 256 kbps as broadband. OECD’s definition is perceived as the de facto definition for Broadband; considering the fact that almost all the developed countries are a part of the OECD.
WiMAX technology has its distinct identity as either a stand-alone solution for incumbent and competitive fixed network operators or as complementary radio access solution for established 2G and 3G cellular network operators. Due to its inherent characteristics as compared to other technologies, WiMAX has a valuable and distinct role to play in the wireless ecosystem. Therefore the conventional wisdom is that WiMAX and 3G will be complementary and coexist. The business models and technical capabilities of the two technologies are different and analysts simply impress this reality by saying that “one size does not fit all”. WiMAX is designed for robust data services whereas 3G and 3.5G (WCDMA & HSDPA) are designed for mobile voice and moderate bandwidth multi-media content and data to small battery powered devices. Most importantly WiMAX is specifically designed for IP data (with good VoIP support) whereas 3G is designed for voice and extended to data, rendering WiMAX a better option for IP data. Simply WiMAX is for “heavy lifting” whereas 3G is for voice and limited data.
Cost wise WiMAX has a distinct advantage over 3G due to technical as well as regulatory implications. The spectral efficiency of WiMAX is high (usually twice or more) as compared to 3G and 3.5 G. This advantage is amplified further as the cost of WiMAX spectrum is cheaper than the 3G spectrum. Furthermore, depending on spectrum, WiMAX can be considerably faster than 3G. This enables WiMAX as a Low Cost / High Performance solution as well as a solution for emerging and rural markets. The scalable network architecture of WiMAX as against the complex network architecture of 3G further consolidates the distinct positioning of WiMAX in the wireless ecosystem.
According to WiMAX forum data, there were 592 deployments in 149 countries as of November 2010. In addition to this, 150 trials are in progress in various parts of the world. Analysts predict that the average number of WiMAX users per country is heading for a near exponential growth within the next 3 to 5 years.
Furthermore, WiMAX technology is supported by a large and well established ecosystem.
As of November 2010, there were 62 WiMAX Forum certified Base Station models, 191 WiMAX Forum certified devices and over 25 silicon chip manufactures; serving the said 592 deployments in 149 counties. Technology giants like Intel & Samsung are strongly backing the technology and are committed to provide WiMAX enabled notebooks /tablets (100+ in the market), WiMAX embedded MIDs, consumer electronics (game consoles, MP3 players) and WiMAX + GSM/CDMA phones & PDAs. The Open Patent Alliance (OPA) of eight leading WiMAX vendors has enabled competitive development and widespread adoption which in turn has ensured that no single company is in a dominant patent ownership position. The globally harmonized common spectrum bands used for WiMAX deployment is another factor that has strengthened the WiMAX ecosystem.
More information on WiMAX Technology is available in the presentation downloadable under the tab “Technology Overview” .