WiMAX celebrated its 10th year yesterday, and the latest debate is whether the technology has been a success or a failure. The general consensus is that since LTE is taking over mobile communication, WiMAX failed. But experts and WiMAX representatives continue to press on with their positive attitude and present the story from an alternative angle. While the market in mobile communication is a lost cause, WiMAX has and will continue to expand in niche sectors such as home gateway modems, machine-2-machine (M2M) modules, USB modems and embedded laptops.
The WiMAX Forum first began in June 2001 with Roger Marks who led the IEEE 802.16 working group along with service providers and major corporations such as Intel. There were three primary goals for the Forum: to establish standards that ensured interoperability, to work with government agencies to release spectrum and to establish and grow an ecosystem to encourage mass adoption of WiMAX technologies. Looking back on the past decade, the forum did achieve the first two goals. WiMAX may not have dominated broadband, but created 580 competitive operators around the world and gave Internet access to rural areas where they would not have had any otherwise.
The company now has over 17.2 million subscribers globally, including residential broadband service and M2M remote connectivity. By contrast, LTE only has 1 million connections so far. WiMAX deployment by a few major service providers such as Clearwire and UQ Communications is producing significant growth in subscribers as well.
WiMAX Forum vice president Mo Shakouri stated that WiMAX wants to stick to the markets it has already been established in rather than looking to challenge the mobile communications market.
WiMAX surely stood at the frontiers of a new generation of broadband service, and ought to be celebrated for that regardless of popular appeal.