WiMAX Backlash Battles WiMAX Hype
By Mike Masnick, Wed Jun 01 01:45:00 GMT 2005

Over the past year, it seems the rhetoric volume has increased for both WiMAX hype and the WiMAX backlash. In the past few days alone, a number of stories demonstrate the odd dichotomy in how people view this technology.

When WiMAX was first picked up by the technology press, it seemed like all they could do was hype the technology -- forgetting that it didn't even exist and that it had a lot of challenges to overcome before it really went anywhere. However, in the past year or so, there has been a growing recognition of the problems facing WiMAX -- which only seemed to make some increase the volume on the hype side as well.

A few recent articles highlight this battle. eWeek came out with an overview, showing that many in the industry are increasingly skeptical of WiMAX. However, immediately the WiMAX hype camp responded with a statement from Ethernet creator Bob Metcalfe announcing that WiMAX could "kill" Wi-Fi -- a story line that's been done to death already by way too many reporters and analysts.

Speaking of analysts, one analyst firm is making plenty of news today by suggesting that mobile WiMAX will come faster than many expect -- which, if true, would be a big deal since many see the lack of mobility in WiMAX as a serious hindering factor of the technology, to the point that another analyst firm still believes the opposite. It reported just last week that WiMAX had potential as a fixed wireless offering, but the mobile version might not go anywhere. It's for this reason that WiMAX supporters have been trying to rush a mobile version to market -- though even WiMAX supporters point out that doing so isn't particularly easy, as the merger of mobile WiMAX and WiBro still requires quite a lot of work -- as highlighted by the early difficulties with WiBro.

With all this back and forth among the "experts," perhaps it's a much better idea to look at the actual efforts by companies in this space. Today comes the news that a spectrum auction for WiMAX spectrum in Norway turned up exactly one bidder, suggesting that perhaps the demand isn't seen yet by many telcos. In the end, it's going to be actual WiMAX adoption among such companies that will prove all the analysts and pundits right or wrong. Until that time, all of the hype surrounding the technology and its backlash is just a lot of talk.