Though no one contests that mobile WiMax has been gathering momentum, some doubt whether the technology will deliver what it promises in terms of performance. Sprint Nextel believes its mobile WiMax network, which it will roll out in 2008, allows for download speeds of 2 Mbps to 4 Mbps and upload speeds of about 1 Mbps on the average.
According to Kerton Group principal Derek Kerton, the success of WiMax will depend on whether it can address issues such as in-building penetration and power consumption, which its backers regard as insignificant. Ali Tabassi, Sprint Nextel’s vice president of technology development, conceded that like any wide-area wireless technologies, WiMax is not immune to in-building penetration problems. The company, however, houses a special group that has solved these issues for its cellular voice and data service, to apply its expertise to the mobile WiMax network.
Kerton admitted that Sprint has the right strategy of creating an ecosystem of products and services based on the technology. The company has contracted Motorola, Samsung and Nokia to provide equipment and handsets for its service. Intel already announced it would release chips that will have both WiMax and WiFi capabilities. Tabassi, however, could not say when these devices will be available. He expects PCMCIA cards and modems to appear in the market when Sprint carries out its launches in two markets. Samsung, he said, may come out with a dual-mode phone by the end of the year.