WiMAX worries for UK 3G operators

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If there’s one word that’s guaranteed to bring mobile phone operators out in a cold sweat it is WiMAX. For while it may sound innocuous to you this supercharged version of Wi-Fi constitutes a serious threat to 3G networks, for instead of offering wireless access to suitably quipped laptops over the space of a few metres like current Wi-Fi standards, WiMAX can deliver ultra fast internet access over many miles.

And it won’t just be data like e-mail and web access that WiMAX delivers, with Voice over IP applications it could also offer ultra cheap phone calls too.

Intel is massively keen on WiMAX and is talking about delivering laptops with integrated WiMAX chips as early as 2006/7. It is also rumoured to working on a huge WiMAX hot spot which will embrace most of central London.

Maybe by then 3G will be established and offering ultra fast (we could be up to 2.5mbps connections by then) and ultra cheap voice and data. However, we wouldn’t bet on it.

Already on the WiMAX case are innovative Kent based telecommunications operators Telabria. In The Register yesterday it confirmed it was going to start trailing WiMAX systems in its Kent heartland with a view to a launch by the end of next year. The WiMAX service will target both the county’s towns and rural communities.

"We believe that in the UK market WiMAX-based services can compete head-on with fixed-line residential and SOHO contended broadband such as ADSL," said Telabria founder and chief exec Jim Baker.

We’ll be keeping a very close eye on this one. More here

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