Frederick Wamsley, author of the excellent and highly recommended blog Security Mentor writes:
Entrepreneurs like to say "look for the pain", because any unsolved problem is something people might pay the entrepreneur to solve. They look for areas where there isn't yet a free market equilibrium, because in a free market equilibrium every problem that can be solved for what people are willing to pay has been solved.
Yet another article just came out about how badly the US is doing in broadband rollout compared to poorer and less densely populated countries. The issue, of course, is that we don't have a free market.
With that much accumulated pain, shouldn't broadband wireless be taking off like DVDs?
Broadband Wireless is taking off very rapidly now, if you know where to look (but in fairness to your question, not "as fast as DVDs").
Mobile WiMAX, once the technology is certified and the inevitable hiccups of a new technology are past, is poised for torrid acceptance in markets where there's been little or no wireline Broadband Internet Access available. For all intentents and purposes, Mobile WiMAX (which, of course, doesn't have to be used mobile) will be the Broadband Internet for those markets.
Given that Clearwire doesn't offer speeds or services substantially better than DSL, it doesn't follow that they'd garner a lot of business in US markets, but they are gaining a lot of customers who are tired of 1) no DSL or cable access, and 2) tired of predatory, monopolistic "service with a snarl" attitude of the wireline telephony companies.
In the US, Houston just announced that they want to do a Broadband Wireless system, followed closely by Los Angeles. Other cities are being built out now. I've been a critic of just "spraying Wi-Fi" in Metropolitan Wi-Fi network deployments, but that problem is finally being addressed with better technology that looks like it will go a long way towards fixing the physical-layer problems inherent in Metropolitan Wi-Fi.
Towerstream is going great guns for business customers in their markets. All the business-class Broadband Wireless Internet Access Service Providers that operate in urban markets that I've talked to recently told me that they've practically got more business than they can handle because T-1 service just isn't fast enough any more for businesses (or reliable enough, any more) and adding more T-1s or "upgrading" to a T-3 (even less reliable, priced just south of obscene) isn't much of an answer, so Towerstream-type Broadband Wireless Internet Access services that can operate as fast as 10 Mbps... 100 Mbps... even 1 Gbps are proving to be very popular.
Another indicator is that given all the hurdles - lack of access to capital, inadequate technology, low customer density... how could small, rural Wireless ISPs using 2.4 GHz spectrum, even exist? But they certainly do exist, in numbers and distribution so large that no accurate count has ever been done (to my knowledge).
So, I think Broadband Wireless is occurring all over the place. But it's spread across a lot of different industry segments, can easily be implemented using license-exempt spectrum so a lot of links can be implemented with very few people knowing about them, and it's being implemented using numerous vendors (not a few dominant ones) and multiple technologies.
As always, Good Question, Fred - Thanks!
By Steve Stroh
This article is Copyright © 2007 by Steve Stroh
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