The Coming Mobile WiMAX Revolution

Over the past fifteen years the world has become smaller as a result of the internet and more recently broadband connectivity allowing IP communications consisting of voice and video to flourish. As connectivity has improved, entire industries were transformed. For example, emerging markets began to harness the internet as a way to provide outsourced services to more developed parts of the world.

It is fair to say the entire world has improved as a result of the net… Just a single example is the hoards of ambitious people worldwide who have leveraged the internet to do things like start businesses where they sell myriad products on eBay or their own websites.

Yet for all the progress we have made over the years, the potential is far greater. In a recent conversation with Lars Johnsson, the VP of Business Development at Beecem I was able to learn how his company – a four year old fabless semiconductor chipset company has been improving mobile WiMAX.

If companies like Intel are responsible for the computing revolution and the benefits we enjoy from microprocessor improvements, then companies like Beceem will be responsible for the coming mobility revolution.

You see, Beceem (pronounced "beseem" which means "without wires" in Farsi) has just released its BCSM250 mobile WiMAX chipset whose surface area is about the size of a stick of gum. In a double-sided format you can actually shrink the packaging down to the size of a stamp.

The importance of this news should not be understated. There are certainly other companies making chipsets but the BCSM250 has been tested at speeds of up to 40 Mbps. Beceem is not the only company making small chips but reminds us that it is now possible to have blazing fast internet access on the go.

In other good news, the end-user cost for this solution should be under $100 which compares favorably with EVDO cards.

For those of my readers in the US, the question becomes… How do we get these chipsets in our mobile phones and laptops and will we ever get WiMAX in the states?

Johnsson told me frankly that now that AT&T and Verizon have purchased most of the 700 MHz frequencies; don’t expect them to roll out WiMAX. He further went on to discuss how the 700 MHz band may not be ideal for WiMAX anyway since there will likely be interference between base stations.

He actually thinks Sprint and Clearwire are in a better position to deliver WiMAX because they have three times the frequencies which were recently won in the FCC 700 MHz auction.

The sad part of all this of course is that Sprint is a weak shadow of its former self and it is unknown how successful the company will be in deploying WiMAX nationwide. What is known however is that as chips get smaller and throughout increases, tomorrow’s mobile devices have the potential of doing things we can’t dream of today.

The reality is that even if real-world mobile broadband speeds are one quarter of the maximum 40 Mbps Johnson boasts, most mobile WiMAX users will have a much faster broadband experience than they do in their homes and offices.

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