The Emphasis on the Wrong Syllable Bankrupt Nortel sheds WiMAX

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The Emphasis on the Wrong Syllable Bankrupt Nortel sheds WiMAX


Rich Tehrani commented on the decision to shuck WiMAX by Nortel.

This is a horse that has been flogged already in my opinion.

While many want me to point to LTE as the clear winner, I don't think this would be a sign of WiMAX's apocalypse.  I instead see this as a prudent move on Nortel's part to emphasize the pieces of the solutions they own.  Partnerships in Telecom are pretty easily forced by the carriers, and the real story is that no carrier is forcing Nortel to support WiMAX.
 
This maybe proof that WiMAX is in trouble, but its more likely proof that the legacy Nortel customers are not looking for Nortel to go into new areas with them.

At one point, I almost was part of a consortium to acquire the SLC solutions of a major manufacturer.  The deal died because the anemic cash cow was over valued. 

Given Nortel's financial woes, I think this is the right decision.
 
It may also be a case of looking for love in all the familiar places.  Legacy carriers with 3G have little choice but to follow the evolution path.  Most of them are not in much better shape than Nortel with a need to refinance over $ 50 B debt in Europe alone.  It may a long time till a good build out comes.

That is the point of calling our new event 4GWE.  It's going to be an evolution.  And its not going to be quick.  Chipset and base stations are where we are at right now.  And while ATT and Verizon want to deploy 700 MHz so they can talk through buildings, the rest of the industry does not have the same incentives for new networks.

My point is that Nortel sees the situation and has a shot of supporting LTE with their legacy customers like Verizon.  And they are playing survivor. 
Other companies are doing likewise.

Then where is the WiMAX play is the next question.  The simple answer is stay tuned.  At 4GWE, a couple of stories will become clear.  The first is that WiMAX is going to have customers based in rural markets.  LTE is a layer on top of 3G so the WiMAX solution is simpler for those who are not fully committed to 3G.

Additionally, Fixed WiMAX is here and now.  Its not as sexy as an iPhone, but its deployed in the third world and application / enterprise specific deployments.

Secondly you will hear that even 3G wireless backhaul uses WiMAX so it's got some advocates.

If we were reading the Innovator's Dilemma we would not be thinking LTE is the underdog.

If I were still in Network Planning, I can make a case for WiMAX in the core now, and by the time LTE is ready, I would have mobile WiMAX as a viable option.

However the real story here is one of lowered expectations.  An aggregate of Rural, third world and fixed wireless applications is not going to fix the immediate problems of Nortel.

Finally comes Clearwire, and here you are not going to be told that they are going head to head.  You are going to hear that pricing can be significantly lower with WiMAX to the point where application specific devices may become viable.

Rumors of WiMAX's death may yet be proven.  White Space may become the next right thing.   That's one of the things I am looking to hear and learn at 4GWE.


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