WiMAXThe cable industry didn’t invest over $1.5 billion in Clearwire for nothing. That 2008 investment is turning into 2009 momentum for cable broadband wireless services powered by WiMAX. The first out of the gate was Comcast, who launched their first High-Speed 2Go WiMAX service in Portland, Oregon last month. Atlanta soon followed, and Las Vegas is reported to be on deck. Now comes word that Time Warner Cable is prepping their first WiMAX launch for sometime ‘this fall,’ with Charlotte identified as their first market. The nation’s second largest cable company revealed these plans during their 2Q09 earnings conference call, citing plans to launch a total of four WiMAX markets by the end of the year.

In some regards, WiMAX is somewhat of a risk for these cable companies. WiMAX has its fair share of ‘haters.’ Many an obituary has already been written about it, despite its relative infancy. These cynics argue that WiMAX simply doesn’t have enough global carrier support to sustain it as a viable 4G technology. If they are right, than Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Brighthouse hitched their wagon to the wrong wireless horse.

If WiMAX fails, it could be truly disastrous for these cable companies, at least from a wireless point of view. It would be their second wireless failure (Pivot wireless being the first), and I doubt they could recover to launch a third wireless foray. They’d probably be a little ‘gun shy’ and consumers more than likely would write off cable as a viable wireless option. Is this possible ‘doomsday’ scenario what drove Cox down a different wireless path to 3G and eventually LTE? Of course, there’s a lot of ‘ifs’ in this scenario. As for now, WiMAX has decent momentum and committed partners from the likes of Intel, Samsung, and Google. Not exactly a list of stealthy start-ups with limited cash reserves. Perhaps the WiMAX obituary is a bit premature – at least for the time being.

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2 thoughts on “Cable WiMAX Momentum: Will it Last?

  1. Amazing spin.
    Does the author understand that the MSO are not interested in what happens in non USA Markets.
    They require a Broadband Mobile solution to compete with AT&T and VZW emerging 4G networks as well as having a need for something to control the inroads these big boys are making in their TV business.
    The WiMAX networks are true broadband services, are Data/Video Centric, and allow for either Fixed/Portable or Mobile Data/Video delivery. Key here is that they are here today and not futures. Customers want a Broadband link they can use at home, on the road and in the office.
    There is only one negative to the WiMAX network being considered and that is its dependence on the 2.5Ghz spectrum that will have connection issues in any Canopied (Foliage) areas, which means most East Coast markets. We need to look at how successful the new WiMAX Mobile services are in the Atlanta market with its Trees.
    What is needed is a 700Mhz WiMAX solution that would compete effectively with the LTE networks planned in 2011-2012
    Jim A.

    1. To clarify, my point about 'what happens in non USA Markets.' is that some analysts (I'm not necessarily one of them) argue that there isn't enough global support for WiMAX from carriers. Meaning there won't be enough carriers for vendors to sell WiMAX equipment to and therefore it dies slowly. In the U.S. for example, there's only one major facilities based carrier – Clearwire. Compare that with LTE, which will have Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile – and that's just the U.S. Go global, and LTE's lead over WiMAX is more pronounced. There are many smaller carriers in the U.S. – DigitalBridge, etc. But collectively, those smaller carriers aren't enough to support a thriving WiMAX ecosystem.

      As I said, I'm not ready to write WiMAX's obituary. But it's naive not to point out its long term challenges.

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