It's Monday, December 3, 2007, and welcome back to Good Day, BWIA, a light compendium of news, items of interest, irreverent commentary, and occasional light analysis relating to Broadband Wireless Internet Access (including WiMAX, public access Wi-Fi, etc.)
Harold Feld on Google's motives for being in the upcoming 700 MHz auctions Good read - recommended. Being a lawyer with long experience in wireless issues on the legislative / legal end of things, but not beholden to anyone as is usually the case with someone with his background, Feld brings some unique perspective.
Today's Clearwire Modem Weather Report - Hollywood Hill, Woodinville, Washington - Solid 4 Bars... despite the monsoon that transformed the snow into potentially dangerous flooding in the space of twelve hours
Very slow news day; apparently the BWIA newsmakers are catching their breath after a busy week last week. So, like Glenn Fleishman, I'll take this opportunity to pontificate a bit. I'll be terse, and perhaps a bit mysterious here - I intend GDBWIA to be "light" and a quick read, and save the long-winded, in-depth pieces for FOCUS. That said, here goes.
The telecommunications industry is entering another inflection point, similar to what happened to it with the rise of the Internet, and the rise of Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) telephony, and "pure" VOIP like Skype. We're just beginning to see the dimensions of the next generation of wireless. We're experience a severe clash between the comfortable, familiar, and safe technology evolution, and the disruptive technology of Mobile WiMAX. Investments and commitments continue to pour into conventional wireless telephony, most recently, Verizon Wireless' stated intent that "Long Term Evolution" LTE is what it plans to use for the direction of its network. But the potential of Mobile WiMAX technology to offer very efficient use of spectrum, optimized for TCP/IP / Internet and able to easily deliver multiple megabits per second and integrated (and high-quality through bandwidth reservation protocols) VOIP is highly disruptive. If Mobile WiMAX gets a "toehold" in a market against more conventional wireless telephony, it could easily out-compete wireless telephony. You don't need any better indicator of things to come than the first generation of the Apple iPhone. This is a pocket computer - fully functional because it can trade always-on connectivity for local processing and storage. It does all of its key (most compelling) functions via its Internet connection(s) and docking with a host computer... not AT&T's "value added" services such as video downloads, music downloads, "WAP services", etc. This device is perfectly suitable for simply being enabled for a Mobile WiMAX network and doing VOIP rather than conventional wireless telephony. The incumbent wireless telephony companies recognize that the landscape is shifting under them, hence Verizon's proclamation that they'll allow any device on their network that meets minimal technical standards. They know they have to do something... but they can't do anything too radical, else the stockholders will punish them severely and perhaps unseat top executives from their cushy, obscenely lucrative jobs. Besides, these seismic changes in the wireless telecommunications industry will require the better part of a decade to fully play out, and this generation of top executives won't end up serving for more than a few years, so why do anything radical? Look what happened to Gary Forsee, ex-CEO of Sprint Nextel. That leaves the "disruption" playing field wide open to new entrants like Clearwire... and Google. My money's on the disruptors, deploying Mobile WiMAX. I've concluded that Mobile WiMAX will deliver that 10x increase in price/performance that's required before a disruptive technology begins to displace an incumbent technology. The disruptive players will be severely handicapped by the market... until it becomes blazingly obvious to all that Mobile WiMAX can in fact deliver a stunning increase in cost-effectiveness in the wireless technology designed for the requirements of this century. I'll be writing about this a lot in the coming months - in FOCUS, but also some special reports, likely small print-on-demand books, that lay out this new world wireless order from my perspective.
By Steve Stroh
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(Last updated 2007-11-06)
This article is Copyright © 2007 by Steve Stroh except for specifically-marked excerpts. Excerpts and links are expressly permitted (and encouraged).
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