Thursday, November 11, 2004

Wi-Max Coming Soon to Seattle

Excellent briefing on Wimax in the San Jose Mercury. This is a long-range version of WiFi, is finally getting real deployment, with the Speakeasy company getting ready to test out WiMax Internet service before the end of the year in downtown Seattle. Unlike WiFi, big bucks are involved at roll-out time. They’re going to be charging roughly 460 Euro per month for a 3 Megabits per second wireless connection.

We already know how convenient it can be to sit down at the corner cafe and surf the Web over a wireless, high-speed Internet connection. Imagine if you kept that connection as you left the coffee house and jumped on a bus or hopped into the back seat of your carpool for the commute to the office.

The technology that promises to bring wireless high-speed connections to entire metropolitan areas is on the way. It's called WiMax and is backed by 140 companies -- from start-ups to chip giant Intel to telecommunications companies.

WiMax is a lot like WiFi, the short-range wireless technology that allows Web surfers to connect to the Internet at Starbucks and other so-called hot spots. But unlike WiFi's 150-foot range, WiMax has a reach of one to 10 miles, offering a way to bring the Internet to entire communities without having to invest billions of dollars to install phone or cable networks.

That presents new opportunities to deliver high-speed Internet access to small businesses, homes and even road warriors who remain out-of-reach of cable and DSL services. But it also raises the question of whether WiMax can deliver what it's promising at a level that makes economic sense for businesses who long to jump into the market.

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