Proxim plans to buck the standards
Non-standard WiMax, and no hurry for 802.11n
By Peter Judge, Techworld | Techworld | Published: 12:54, 01 September 2008
If people start using video, and if 802.11n starts showing up on the access end, then the backhaul is going to have to get bigger, because the mismatch between access and backhaul will be huge. If you are going to replace wired with wireless, the experience must be the same.
With WiMax, you get about 20Mbit/s per radio. Our goal is to work on products that will push that frontier substantially. We'll have products that are extensions to the standard.
Our belief is that the WiMax spectrum is going to be dominated by the Tier 1 vendors, because they have the cash to buy the spectrum. That won't stop the Tier 2 and Tier 3 carriers - they will deploy WiMax in the unlicensed space - and right now, WiMax is bigger in the unlicensed space. Tier 2 and 3 vendors care more about getting a return on their investment than having a piece of paper that says this is certified WiMax.
Without getting into the technology details, we think there is a big market for non-standard WiMax products - whether it is an extension of WiMax or something completely different. There's a market there, and we're trying to push the limits.
What about the prospects for mobile WiMax?
I think WiMax will succeed - but it won't be as big as some expected.
WiMax was created for a specific problem: fixed point to multipoint backhaul. It is probably the best technology available on the planet today for that problem. We plan to use WiMax for that fixed point-to-multipoint backhaul - both licensed and unlicensed, both standard and non-standard.
But will WiMax become an access technology? So far there is only one SKU [product] for a mobile WiMax client - the Nokia N810. If people are going to start deploying mobile WiMax networks, either someone is going to have to pony up the cash to build networks, so the devices make sense, or someone is going to have to pony up the cash to build the devices so the networks make sense. One of those needs to happen - and neither of them is happening.
There's a conversation about whether access will be by wireless LAN, LTE or Mobile WiMax. From our point of view, we don't care because we are more about the backhaul.
We've not jumped into Mobile WiMax. It's an area we could do - but it would make no sense. It's a GSM-type deployment, so if you are a Tier 1 carrier, you are going to need someone with resources.
I think it is hard for one company like Intel to carry the load. People are banding together for LTE, just like they did for wireless LAN. Intel is a savvy company. If it turns out to be LTE, they'll just put LTE in all the devices. I don't think Intel cares.
Do you think we are seeing the first phases of a climb-down at Intel?
Intel is an extremely data-driven company. I used to work at Intel years ago, and Andy Grove drilled it into us that you go where the data takes you. Do you remember the whole Pentium flaw thing? They said it's only one in however many million Pentiums that is going to fail, and they said that is not a good enough reason to do a recall.
That was mishandled - they missed the whole emotional aspect of it - but the point is, if the data shows LTE is succeeding, they will go with LTE. I don't think they get emotional - that's what makes that company truly great.