Sun, 3 September 2006
WiMax - Why Not?
Craig McCaw is a visionary, who has had an uncanny ability to predict the future of technology. WiMAX has the potential to do for broadband access what cell phones have done for telephony - replacing cable and DSL services, providing universal Internet access just about anywhere - especially for suburban and rural blackout areas.
Just like in the early 1980's Clearwire's Craig O. McCaw has been buying up licensed radio spectrum. You may not have heard of Craig but in the early 80's he recognized local cell permits being sold by the the FCC were greatly undervalued and he started bidding cellular phone licenses. He did his buying under the radar screen of the telcos and, by the time they recognized what he was doing it was basically too late Ã¢ï¿½ï¿½ Craig had already purchased and owned licenses in most of the major markets.
Of course he had the money - in 1986 Craig and his brothers
sold a cable television business their father had left them for $755 million
and concentrated on building a national cellular phone network. The story
continues - MCI Communications sold its cellular and paging operations to
Craig in 1986 for $122 million and their company went public with the brothers
holding around 40% of the company. His last big acquisition in the cell market
was the $3.5 billion deal for LIN Broadcasting where he outbid Bell South.
With the LIN acquisition Craig and his brothers had almost complete control of
McCaw brothers sold the company to AT&T in 1994 for $11.5 billion and a lot of people figured they would just ride off into the sunset Ã¢ï¿½ï¿½ not the case!
Fast forward to today - Clearwire, under Craig's direction, has
quietly purchased enough licensed radio spectrum
to build a national WiMAX network.
What is WiMax?
Can you give us some specs for WiMax
Currently, the fastest WiFi connection is up to 54 megabits per second under optimal conditions. WiMAX is predicted to handle up to 70 megabits per second - providing the equivalent of cable modem speeds even when shared by several dozen businesses or a few hundred home users. Distance is where WiMax really outshines WiFi - while WiFi has a range of about 300 feet, WiMAX will provide wireless access for a radius of 30 miles. The increased range is due to the frequencies used and the power of the transmitter. Of course, at that distance, terrain, weather and large buildings will act to reduce the maximum range in some circumstances, but the potential is there to cover large geographic areas.
What would happen if I got WiMAX
An Internet service provider sets up a WiMAX base station 10 miles from your home. You'll need a WiMAX-enabled computer or upgrade your old computer to add WiMAX capability. You would receive a special encryption code that would give you access to the base station. Potentially, the cost could be much lower than current high-speed Internet fees because the provider never had to run cables. For your home network, things wouldn't change much. A WiMAX base station would send data to a WiMAX-enabled router, which would then send the data to the different computers on your network. You could even combine WiFi with WiMAX by having the router send the data to the computers via WiFi.
Craig has also attracted some major investors with Motorola and Intel giving him close to $900 million in July. Rumor has it that, with Clearwire's potential network, within 3 years the company will be able to offer nationwide WiMAX service for around $25 per month which is significantly less that people are currently paying for other providers nationwide lower bandwidth data services.
Clearwire is not without competition. According to WiMAXTrends.com:
On August 8 Sprint Nextel President and CEO Gary Forsee announced that Sprint will adopt WiMAX as it technology choice for its next generation "4G" network. Mr. Forsee announced that its current EV-DO network will complement a mobile WiMAX network. The mobile WiMAX network will be utilized with a full range of WiMAX-embedded devices.
The products are coming and the providers are committed to
build the network. This makes me think seriously about the Muni WiFi
initiatives we are seeing springing up in most
References:A Wake Up Call from Craig McCaw, Business Week Magazine, July 24, 2006
The Wizard of Wireless: http://www.achievement.org/autodoc/page/mcc0bio-1SPRINT NEXTEL ANNOUNCES THAT WIMAX IS TECHNOLOGY CHOICE FOR ITS NEXT GENERATION "4G" NETWORK: http://WiMAXTrends.com