Wednesday, July 18, 2007

WiMAX - Cream Skimming or Bridging the Digital Divide

by Karen Coppock

For all of the talk about WiMAX being the silver bullet for rural connectivity and bridging the digital divide, I have seen many announcements about WiMAX deployments in major urban areas.

This week MTN Uganda will start a national deployment of WiMAX across Uganda. According to a press release by Alvarion, MTN Uganda's WiMAX technology partner, WiMAX will first be deployed "in the capital and largest urban settlement of Uganda – Kampala, [and] is planned to be followed by additional network deployments in 30 other cities across the country."

A few months ago Saudi Arabia went live with a WiMAX deployment on Tahlia Street in downtown Riyadh as a part of its "SmartCity" program. Mohammed Saquer, CEO ITC states that, "this service will further our effort to enliven downtown and continue Riyadh's aim of being a city at the cutting edge of technology innovations." Intel is an active partner in this initiative to revitalize cities.

Even in the United States, WiMAX will be deployed in urban areas. SprintNextel selected ZTE to supply their WiMAX solution, which they plan to use to "cover 85 percent of the households in the top 100 U.S. markets."

Perhaps Ericsson's statement about the lack of a solid business case for WiMAX was referring to WiMAX in rural areas?

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