Sights and Sounds at WiMAX World

Thoughts I had after WiMAX World:

Most of the executives know that they want to deploy something to offer wireless broadband. They also know how much it will cost to offer the level of broadband users are asking for. The only problem is that the assumption on cost is predicated on an old-style centralized architecture design. A move in mindset to a more distributed system of wireless peers creating a true mesh solution is not only cheaper in cost, but helps to mitigate the spectrum issues associated with the unlicensed ISM bands that existing infrastructural designs are susceptible to.
Wow, there were more financial/banker/monkey-types than I would expect at a supposed technology conference. I didn’t see many of them except at the keynotes, so I suppose they all went to hear their peers in *market research* babble in vague terms about the utopian future they need to be investing in. While answering another attendee’s question about “Why I like WiMAX” was entertaining just to watch the face go blank, the highlight was seeing the speakers immediately assaulted after finishing. This ritual usually involved two waves of impeccably dressed, cologne drenched, slick-haired clones most apparently missing their top button. The first wave was the far more aggressive one looking simply to procure evidence of their presence at the conference to justify themselves to their superiors, a business card. The second wave was at least forward enough to state their company’s potential intentions. Nevertheless, a fun sight especially when the speaker is ushered off stage right, followed by a single-file line of about 10-15 financial monkeys.
While the 3.5Ghz spectrum isn’t available in the US, it was interesting to learn that the Department of Defense is at least looking to utilize it by working with operators.
A big item at the conference was that since fixed WiMAX (802.16 2004) is closer to production than mobile WiMAX(802.16e), operators voiced concern that customers would ultimately want mobile WiMAX, but didn’t want to pay for an upgrade cycle 1 year after deploying fixed WiMAX now. A legitimate concern that wasn’t entirely answered.
Saw some new products such as the Wavesat Evolutive WiMAX products for 802.16-2004, already on a board with mini-pci, Sequans 802.16 system-on-chip, and an offering from picochip that was a programmable array allowing for software implementation of 802.16d, 802.16e, and WiBRO, among others (apparently). The picochip product was pretty intriguing (both from a technical as well as a business viewpoint) as it could be an option addressing operators’ concerns about the cost of upgrading when the cycle to 802.16e was so near.
There is a ton of money to be made building the software infrastructure such as billing and accounting systems, especially in light of the increased regulations such as compliance with e911. Voice in particular, but true of most of the systems.

Overall, a decent conference that didn’t shove too much corporate propaganda down attendees’ throats like many of the ones Microsoft runs such as TechEd. On the downside, there wasn’t much quality free stuff, but I guess that’s a good tradeoff to come out without an official Motorola stamp on my forehead.

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