WiMAX – Broadband Goes Mobile

Well the big story in mobile this month is undoubtedly the news that Clearwire, Sprint and Nextel, with the help from several other strategic investors including Intel, Google, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and others, have combined forces to undertake the development of the WiMAX network.

WiMAX will be built upon the combined wireless spectrum holdings of Sprint and Clearwire, which cover the vast majority of metropolitan and suburban areas of the United States.

While traditional wireless signals are limited to a broadcast range of a few hundred feet, WiMAX is based on the Internet protocol packet network of the conventional internet and Ethernet enabling it to deliver broadband signals up to 30 miles for home and business use and 10 miles for wireless devices.

That’s great for range and accessibility of this new network, but what about speed you ask? Well speed is WiMAX’s strong suit. While traditional DSL connections tend to average not much more than 2Mbps, and often times even lower, the WiMAX forum talks about speeds up to 40Mbps.

The increased competition that would come from WiMAX could help lower the price of both home and business signals. In fact beyond the reliable high speed wireless network that we’ve all been waiting for, the greater idea of WiMAX is to be able to create a network for metropolitan areas that serves a large number of people with minimal base stations. Such a network could be a viable alternative to DSL and cable modems for home and business connections and to WiFi and cellular networks for mobile users.

When you start to think about this in combination with newer devices, such as the Nokia 6136 which can operate as cell phone on their network and as a VoIP phone on a WiFi network, the possibilities for WiMAX become very exciting. In fact simply bringing true broadband speed to the world of the mobile web will allow the world of mobile applications to explode like we’ve never seen before – who knows what we’re in store for?

And best of all, we may not be waiting for long. The partnership of companies has agreed to invest $3.2 billion in this venture and hope to have commercial service ready sometime early next year. Of course, as with any development that has the potential to impact an industry on this scale, the WiMAX venture is surely going to have its battles to fight in court – IPCS inc. has already filed a suit against Sprint for breach of exclusivity provisions that are part of their affiliation agreements with Sprint Nextel.