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Summary:

Scott Rafer: Wi-Max will join HomeRF in Intel’s dustbin of proprietary wireless standards by mid-2008.

Scott Rafer: Wi-Max will join HomeRF in Intel’s dustbin of proprietary wireless standards by mid-2008.

  1. Off-topic, but for crying out loud, I just want official 802.11n products. I have painfully resisted buying any wireless gear for 3 years now. Surely the big players are tired of nerd-slapping each other about the spec details by now, right?

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  2. Personally, I think Scott’s predictive credibility is impaired by the article he references, which he wrote in June of 2004, in which he predicted that “WiMax access points will be sold for less than $400 on Amazon in 2005.”

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  3. It’s also impaired by the fact that Rafer is an idiot.

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  4. Hi Jeff (and DG),

    I left a note back on the AlwaysOn piece as well. It turns out to be Best Buy, not Amazon.
    http://www.unstrung.com/document.asp?doc_id=82394

    To give credit where credit is due, I didn’t expect ClearWire to be the ones selling through BestBuy.

    Idiotically prescient,
    ScottR

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  5. And Mr. Lewis is primarily continuing his comments here:
    http://www.alwayson-network.com/comments.php?id=P4333_0_4_0_C

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  6. Scott,

    What Clearwire is selling at Best Buy is not a WiMAX access point, it’s a modem. (It’s also not WiMAX, but that’s a quibble.) For it to do anything, Clearwire has to deploy NextNet Expedience base stations. They cost lots more than $400, and you can’t buy them at Best Buy.

    Given that your point was that a WiMAX service provider model would be unsustainable because WiMAX access points would be so cheap that “customer-deployed equipment will dominate,” it’s a bit disingenuous for you to try to prove this point by citing the availability of a Broadband Wireless modem that requires subscription to a Broadband Wireless service provider.

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  7. My point is that new carriers can’t cross into profitability where the user perception of their service is that it competes with the face of standards-based solutions on unlicensed bands.

    On the hardware availability and cost issue:
    1. Crack open one of those modems and you’ll find something rather similar to a low-end wireless access point. Are its differences from a low-end access point the hardware components or the software that locks you to McCaw’s backhaul? Being licensed gear, it’ll be higher power than unlicensed, but that’s not the point I’m seeking to make.
    2. I’m guilty of believing some of the WiMax hype in spite of my criticisms. I thought the standards would be a lot further along than this: http://wimaxnetnews.com/archives/2005/10/understand_the.html My specific mistake was including a year in that statement. Here’s an attempt at a rewrite with the same logic but without my data-specific screwup that everyone is focusing on:

    Old paragraph as found on: http://www.alwayson-network.com/comments.php?id=P4333_0_4_0_C
    Once again, it’s just wireless Ethernet. There are no barriers to entry or economies of scale. Customer-deployed equipment will dominate, making WiMax-specific service providers unsustainable. I predict that WiMax access points will be sold for less than $400 on Amazon in 2005, and for less than $200 in 2006. Not only that, but they’ll be far easier to install than satellite TV dishes, and I bet they’ll reduce the total monthly fees for broadband Internet—including flat-rate global voice services—to less than $20 per month.

    Suggested replacement paragraph, changes in italics:
    Once again, it’s just wireless Ethernet. There are no barriers to entry or economies of scale. Customer-deployed equipment will dominate, making WiMax-specific service providers unsustainable. I predict that open-standards, backhaul-independent, unlicensed WiMax-equivalent access points will be sold for less than $400 at retail before ClearWire can get anywhere near a critical mass of subscribers (which is long before profitability). Not only that, but they’ll be far easier to install than satellite TV dishes, and I bet they’ll reduce the total monthly fees for broadband Internet —- including flat-rate global voice services —- to less than $20 per month.

    The writing is a bit clunkier, but it’s the right conomic argument. What year it happens in is somewhat orthogonal to the argument, which I should have stated two years ago when I wrote it.

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  8. I thought I’d have to do some real debunking here but Scott has debunked himself…..the apples and oranges comparison above clearly indicate this.

    Ok boys and girls, once again:

    The current 802.16 standard is IEEE Std 802.16-2004, approved in June 2004. It renders the previous (and 1st) version 802.16-2001 obsolete, along with its amendments 802.16a and 802.16c.

    IEEE Std 802.16-2004 addresses only fixed systems. An amendment 802.16e is in the works which adds mobility components to the standard. This amendment is expected to be completed in mid 2005.

    WiMAX’s Imminent Disruption
    Forget the analysis look at the evidence
    http://www.alwayson-network.com/comments.php?id=12233_0_1_0_C

    Why Ebay Acquired Skype: Wireless Broadband Wars Have Begun
    Google enters WiFi arena
    http://www.alwayson-network.com/comments.php?id=12122_0_1_0_C

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  9. Scott, FWIW, my comment was the first in the list and unrelated to Om/you.

    I bugged Om about his comment display author attribution being awkward :)

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  10. Scott,

    A question I asked on the comments board at AlwaysOn, but per your suggestion, I’ll repeat it here.

    How do all these user-installed and operated mesh networks connect to the rest of the world?

    Let’s in fact assume that by next July I’ll be able to buy a mesh radio in Best Buy for a few hundred bucks (or I’m willing to spend $435 to buy a MeshBox from Locust). And let’s assume that a dozen other people in my neighborhood do likewise.

    Oh, and by the way, let’s assume that I live in West Podunk, Wisconsin, where the telco doesn’t offer DSL service and the cable company doesn’t even run cable, let alone offer high-speed internet.

    So now how do I get to Yahoo? Or gigaom.com? The nearest ISP POP is maybe 25 miles down the road. And they don’t have a MeshBox. And even if they did, they’re not going to serve all this traffic from my neighbors and me out of the goodness of their hearts.

    Even if you focus on urban/dense suburban environments, how, exactly, does a user-owned and operated wireless mesh network provide connectivity to the internet, unless one or more of the users have an existing internet connection that they’re willing to share? And if they’re paying for that internet connection, how willing will they be to share it? Doesn’t it reduce to a Tragedy of the Commons?

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