Despite the launch of Korea’s WiBro wireless broadband service at the end of June, the BBC says the service hasn’t made it onto cell phones yet and is only available in a few sections of Seoul — the culprit is the slow moves and technical difficulties in the Wibro silicon market:
Unfortunately, out in the real world Koreans cannot actually use Wibro on their phones because no-one has figured out how to cram in the bulky and power-hungry Wibro chipsets, and make what is essentially a data service work alongside voice calls. . . . Technical gremlins mean the connection keeps dropping when users move between Wibro base stations, and it is only available in five districts of Seoul.
It’s no surprise that the silicon is often times the hardest part to figure out, which is why so many companies are trying to move into the market at this early stage. Sales of WiMAX equipment is estimated to top $3 billion by 2010, says research firm In-Stat, and Fujitsu, Runcom, TeleCIS, Wavesat, Sequans and Samsung, among others, are all competing for business. Hopefully by the time Sprint builds its WiMAX network in the U.S., some of these details will have been worked out.