Japan’s UQ Communications is showing off a demo of Samsung’s WiMAX 2 technology at a local trade show and is achieving download speeds of roughly 330 Mbps. That’s bananas, but it also seems like a waste, much like Ultra Mobile Broadband (UMB), the standard that Qualcomm was developing as a competitor to LTE until they decided to just kill the project and join the rest of the world in adopted the GSMA backed standard. Clearwire, who until recently was committed to WiMAX, but has no admitted to testing LTE equipment, is the largest operator using WiMAX. Once they go, who’s left?
Technological progress is a funny thing these days. It’s no longer about who has the best solution, but who has the largest marketing budget, the most amount of friends, and even some unknown political factors, that decide whether or not a technology lives or dies. WiMAX 2, as wonderful as it seems both on paper and in demos, will probably never be deployed in a commercial network. Never say never, but if I had to bet a bottle of expensive whiskey on there being a consumer facing WiMAX 2 network operating within 5 years, I’d tell you that it isn’t going to happen and you better ship me single malt using overnight FedEx.
Samsung says by the end of 2011 they’ll have commercial WiMAX solutions on the market. They didn’t specify whether that means infrastructure equipment or things like netbooks with the new technology embedded inside, but either way, by the end of 2011 LTE is going to be deployed across Western Europe and in many large American cities. The ecosystem is going to be so large and growing so fast, that if an operator even mumbled the word WiMAX, he’d get laughed at by an entire industry. At least that’s what I’d like to imagine happens.