Will 'Portability' Lure Businesses to WiMAX?

Carl Ford : 4G Wireless Evolution
Carl Ford
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Will 'Portability' Lure Businesses to WiMAX?

When WiMAX providers talk about the technology's attributes, cellular-like mobility is usually near the top of the list. But for many business users WiMAX's simple portability -- the ability to pick up and move your broadband connection -- may prove to be a more powerful economic and operational lure, the kind of money-saving, hassle-free attribute that gets CIOs interested and gets POs signed.

The power and potential attractiveness of WiMAX's simple portability was one of the surprising themes we picked up on during the reporting and writing of our latest Sidecut Report, titled the Sidecut Reports WiMAX Business Deployment Guide. Available now as a free download, the report also includes a basic primer on what WiMAX is, and where and how businesses can connect to WiMAX services, and some broadband pricing comparisons.

And while there are potentially many customers who might eventually take advantage of WiMAX's ability to support real broadband connectivity while in motion -- we are thinking here of commuters in Chicago and New York, markets that are already on the Clearwire launch schedule -- for right now it's easy to say that most business computing is done by bodies at rest; by people sitting at a desk, a cubicle, a coffeehouse table or somewhere else well lighted and generally stable. Right now those workers' broadband needs are either met by a wired network, or by a Wi-Fi access point tied into a backbone via either DSL or cable modem.

The twist WiMAX adds into this work equation is the ability to unplug that beefy backhaul and move it across the cube, across the hall, across campus or across town -- delivering workspace flexibility not just for individuals, but for entire workgroups who could theoretically be supported by WiMAX services' rather robust plans. Throw in one of the new portable hotspot routers being offered by both Clearwire and Sprint (Andy calls 'em PocketSpots) and all of a sudden business broadband decisions are no longer tethered to a wire coming out of a wall -- or to any wall at all.

Our report provides other details on why businesses might want to take a look at WiMAX, if it is available in their markets -- but it is our guess that simple portability, instead of way-cool mobility, may be a more powerful business-user lure right now, at least until those promised next-generation mobile devices appear in the wild.

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