Posted on | February 9, 2010 | 1 Comment
Recently, we have been asked again about the role of WiMax (802.16) in rural and remote networks.
In brief, we still think it is not a preferred option, and here is why:
- Price: Simply, for what it can do – it is too expensive. Smart use of cheaper technologies, and upcoming improvements of existing standards, see e.g. Ubiqiti’s AirMax technology, can deliver the same performance at lower prices.
- Focus Area: In our view, WiMax’s strength are infrastructure networks in densely populated areas, with massively multipath non-line-of-sight conditions. Where line of sight is free, or just moderately obscured, WIMAX does not connect you any better, neither with respect to bandwidth nor stability, than its cheaper competitors. Where line of sight is seriously blocked for a long haul link – neither WiMax nor WiFi will get you around that.
- Clients: 802.11 clients are ubiquitous in todays’ end user devices – there is hardly a laptop or smart phone that comes without WiFi. WiMax however is absent – it would have to be added as CPE device for each and every user, again bringing up the price for hardware and deployment.
- Competition: For long range infrastructure networks, WIMAX is beaten by WiFi and other, proprietary standards. For highly mobile urban roaming, mobile data (3G etc) wins. So, what market niche is left for WiMax?
These are just a few (simplified) points in an discussion.
No doubt, there will be networks where WIMAX is chosen, and where budgets allow, there is nothing seriously wrong with that.
For low cost rural networks however, and for rural business to make sense – there is better choices.
We will be discussing these issues again at the upcoming ICTP-ITU school on wireless, at ICTP Trieste.