The Economist writes:
Despite claims by several firms that they are offering WiMax technology today, the actual number of WiMax devices on the market is precisely zero. That is because the WiMax Forum, a standards body that oversees the technology and ensures that gear from different vendors works together, has yet to certify any devices with the WiMax label.
The hype is now giving way to much scepticism about the technology’s prospects. I don’t think it’s completely hot air, but it won’t live up to its early promise, says Jagdish Rebello of iSuppli, a market-research firm. WiMax, he says, will chiefly be used by telecoms firms in rural areas, to plug holes in their broadband coverage.
One of the technologies drawing the most attention is WiMAX, which is similar to the popular Wi-Fi standard that millions of people have used to set up wireless networks in their homes but is slated to have a range of several miles. Since WiMAX has yet to be certified, companies are using precursors to the technology.
If the technology takes off, millions of phone and cable customers could cut the wires that tether them to the regulated telecom world. That means being able to surf the Internet and send e-mail at high speeds — maybe eventually make calls over the Internet — with a wireless-enabled computer in any room in a house or any outside space covered by the technology. The advantages of portability should be obvious to anyone who remembers when there were no cellphones.
Besides lopping off some wires, wireless broadband could open the door to more competitors. It is expected to become relatively cheap to deploy over time, which could mean lower prices and more options for consumers and businesses.