TechCrunch post today about WiMAX, Why Cable And WiMax Shouldn’t Mix, clearly misses the point. Their two conclusion items are misconceived, not to say wrong:
1. TechCrunch says: “WiMax is more an alternative to fixed broadband Internet access than it is to mobile phone service”
TechCrunch seems to ignore that WiMAX Rev-d brings mobility and it is the one being deployed now in many operators. Wimax is about mobile broadband, something 3G operators are supposed to provide, but they only do at a prohibitive price, due to lack of competition.
2. TechCrunch brilliant idea: “It no longer makes sense to try to own all the pipes because pipes are becoming a commodity”
It seems that for TechCrunch it makes more sense to invest billions in Social Networks, Speech-to-text start-ups, with no business case to make a profit, than in a business to provide a communication service for which customers are willing to pay. Ask telcos, where their billions in profit come from… yes, from those “commodity pipelines”
Network infrastructure is an asset. Millions of users of a free service, e.g. Skype, is not necessarily an asset. Ask eBay what they think now of the multi-billion valuation of Skype, that they later wrote-off.
As a user, I welcome WiMAX to bring more competition to mobile communications in something mobile operators have failed to mass market: Mobile Broadband. Partly due to mobile telcos greed to over charge data based on volume, partly for their fear to congest their spectrum, we are far from ubiquitous wireless IP access.
WiMAX is a disruptive technology with better spectral efficiency (higher bitrate for the same spectrum), designed with IP in mind, and backed by Intel to be seamlessly supported in laptops, the same way Wifi is today. But WiMAX operators will not only do Mobile Broadband. The guys at TechCrunch have probably heard about VoIP. By deploying IMS, these operators will be able to offer voice, video, presence, IM and many other services from a WiMAX handset. Can that compete with a 2G/3G mobile phone? Skype is the proof that it can. IMS just enables a Skype-like service but carrier-grade, with QoS control provided by the network.
TechCrunch might have jump into WiMAX only because of the fiasco for Xohm in the US market, but WiMAX is taking off in other markets (India, Taiwan, Korea, Malaysia), and hopefully this new backing from Comcast, Intel, Time Warner, Google and Brigh House will bring WimAX to US too, the big way.
Still skeptical, GigaOM addresses the story with more detail in: CableCos Join The $3 Billion U.S. WiMAX Rescue Act