There Is a Place for Wireless Broadband
By Eric Lin, Fri Jun 18 21:45:00 GMT 2004

Wireless broadband has a place, and that place should be wherever there isn't wired broadband according to one analyst.

Some Wireless Broadband solutions allow users to roam about, at least if they have a PC Card slot in their laptop or PDA. However the freedom to roam does not seem to compensate for reduced speed or reliability in the minds of consumers. "This means that when there is an option, fixed solutions are often preferred," says analyst Paul Budde.

According to Budde, the lack of a single, or at least a few successful standards also holds customers back from investing in wireless broadband equipment, especially when wireline access is so simple. Although wireless broadband is unlikely to succeed where it will compete with a wired system, there is still a large population who live outside of the reach of broadband-ready phone or cable lines. These users should be the primary market for wireless broadband. However, at least in America, wireless companies keep launching test markets in areas with wireline access.

Following the demise of Metricom, analysts assumed it was high prices and slow speed that kept users away. Monet Mobile offered EV-DO speed for $30-40 per month and still was forced to close its doors. Networks from Verizon and even Alaska Communications as well as others are trying to find the magic formula of advertising, pricing and locale. However each one is launching sites in areas where users can already get wired broadband, even in Alaska.

Operators often launch broadband networks using EV-DO in zones with strong utilities, where maintaining a cell network is fairly easy. But this puts those networks in direct competition with wired broadband. This is where WiMax actually offers a competitive advantage- operators can install base stations at the edge of wired zones and connect users up to about 20 miles away at high speeds -- that is if WiMax works as advertised when it is finally ratified and launched.