Wimax’s Nine Lives

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With the CEO out at Sprint (S), it looked like his dream for a nationwide WiMax network to blanket much of the US with high-speed wireless was dead. That might have killed WiMax as a widespread technology here leaving it and its champions to take their chances overseas.

But, in a odd turn of events the United Nation’s may have become the biggest single advocate of WiMax. The International Telecommunications Union portion of the UN endorsed that tech after a big battle between Intel (INTC), one of the largest supporters of WiMax, and Qualcomm (QCOM), which does not want to see the new wireless standard cut into its 3G franchise.

According to The Wall Street Journal "WiMAX has been most widely used in emerging markets, where laying down cable has often been prohibitively expensive and where fixed-line networks never had a chance to develop before mobile technologies emerged." To some extent the UN is supported the standard because it is an affordable way to bring broadband to the world’s poorer countries.

How odd that the advocates for the poor and technology that they can afford might help WiMax distribution in the US.

Qualcomm, which gets a royalty on all 3G-based devices, can add this to its list of setbacks.

Douglas A. McIntyre

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