If you've been waiting patiently for a country-wide WiMAX network to arrive, then I'm afraid you may be hanging on for a while yet. It seems that even WiMAX's proponents aren't too sure about the future of the last-mile wireless technology.
Garth Freeman – no relation to Gordon – surprised delegates at the recent International WiMAX Conference by laying in to the technology with both fists. Freeman's company, Buzz Broadband, deployed a last-mile network based on the wireless technology just over a year ago and he claims that he's learnt quite a few things over that period. Mostly, he's learnt that WiMAX is a “disaster
” that has “failed miserably
Among Freeman's complaints about the technology's performance were the poor reception available indoors – the signal is all but useless if you're more than half a kilometre from a base station – and the ridiculously high latency, reaching upwards of 1000 milliseconds at times. He was also critical of the technology's ability to reach base stations out of direct line of sight, with units failing to connect at ranges of just two kilometres when the line of sight is blocked.
Freeman sees the technology as being “mired in opportunistic hype
” and pointed out that support by top-tier vendors is practically non-existent compared to the far more popular HSDPA wireless broadband system.
You won't be surprised to hear that Buzz Broadband is no longer a WiMAX house, with Freeman choosing to adopt a system he refers to as “horses for courses
” and mixed technologies including TD-CDMA and DOCSIS alongside mesh networking based on 802.11 technologies.
Is WiMAX a dead duck, or did Buzz just not have the wherewithal to utilise it effectively? Share your thoughts over in the forums