What If WiMAX Is Too Hard?
By Mike Masnick, Wed Sep 01 23:30:00 GMT 2004

While the mainstream coverage has suggested that WiMAX is a sure thing, some are finally starting to admit publicly that the WiMAX standard has its problems.

No one denies the potential of WiMAX as a wide area broadband wireless networking technology. Sometimes, though, it appears the buzz has outpaced reality by a significant margin. There are already plenty of stories where either the operators rolling out wireless broadband or the press reporting it have decided to call it WiMAX either because they assume that WiMAX means all wireless broadband, or because they're trying to jump on the marketing bandwagon.

However, as we get closer to WiMAX certified equipment really being available, more questions are being raised about the likelihood of rapid adoption. Already, there have been concerns about patents, legal issues and spectrum allocation hindering WiMAX rollouts. Even more important, though, is that developers looking at the full standard are realizing that it's incredibly complex -- to the point that some have wondered if it will really be possible to follow the standard completely. In order for WiMAX to live up to everything that has been promised it has to do many different things -- and do them all well.

Obviously, no one is saying that WiMAX is impossible, but the difficulties could raise some questions about how quickly rollouts occur and how well the technology works initially. Some companies that had planned to offer WiMAX may look at the standard and hold off for a while. Others may push forward, but the WiMAX equipment they come out with may not function perfectly to the spec, which will mean ongoing modifications and WiMAX deployments that don't live up to what was promised. For a technology that has been so widely hyped, this could be quite damaging, as it would be yet another case of a new wireless technology that was overhyped, yet under-delivered. It could also open the door a little wider for competing broadband wireless technologies, such as FLASH-OFDM and UMTS TDD, both of which are undergoing trial deployments around the world.

It's likely that WiMAX will eventually work out its early difficulties, but despite all the hype, it's also too early to crown it the leading wireless broadband technology of the future.