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Okay, so what's up with WiMax?

Ryan Block, @ryan
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Don't get us wrong, we're all about it, but we'd be lying if we called WiMax's (802.16 for all you IEEE-nerds) performance to date in the market-adoption sense anthing but an impossibly slow, lumbering disappointment. It's become notorious for missing dates, pumping out some seriously distracting hype, and now, apparently their previously scheduled first round of official product testing and certification will be delayed by another half year—that means the first generation WiMax products won't be around until late 2005; knowing WiMax, we'll guesstimate Spring 2006, at least. What it all means for the long-distance high-speed wireless standard is that even with the all the WiMax-Forum's serious efforts to rally people behind their technology, if they can't deliver in a timely manner they're going to find themselves properly ignored. And despite our better judgement as for its greater intended purpose, it could actually wind up finding its niche as a backhaul medium like many are predicting, which could possibly kill WiMax; because of the way Intel is positioning the technology, if it doesn't get picked up by a broad consumer base we can totally see it getting discarded to the heap of failed standards of yore, backhaul or not. Not to mention facing off against ever broadening and cheapening 2.5 and 3G data networks in America, and HSDPA should be a reminder that every second counts in next-gen wireless, and WiMax is wasting precious time.

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