Mixed Signals on WiMax at CTIA

In filtering through the myriad of WiMax announcements at CTIA, I’m coming away with the feeling that the market for this technology isn’t going to be anywhere near as big as everyone had initially hoped. Sprint, for example, has delayed the launch of its Xohm WiMax service until later this year. Apparently it’s still committed to the launch, and may make it happen as soon as this summer, at least judging by the gossip among the attendees at CTIA.

Most carriers are endorsing LTE as the 4G standard of choice, and Arun Sarin, the CEO of Vodafone, said this morning that he thought WiMax should be subsumed into the LTE standard. It was the same message he pushed at the Mobile World Congress earlier this year. A move that drastic is unlikely, but most WiMax adoption is likely to occur in developing countries and among smaller carriers.

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Cisco Makes Its WiMAX Move, Buys Navini

After being skeptical of WiMAX for quite sometime, Cisco Systems (CSCO) is changing its tune, and has decided to play the WiMAX game. It is doing so by buying Navini Networks for a whopping $330 million in cash and stock. It was apparently one of the worst-kept secrets out there; the analyst community had been talking about the deal for nearly a fortnight.

Why this change of heart? One could point to United Nations/ITU giving their blessing to WiMAX. WiMAX is becoming quite popular with operators in emerging markets, where little or no prior infrastructure exists. Countries like India, China, Brazil and others are looking to building WiMAX-based wireless broadband networks. Of course, Cisco can’t let rivals like Motorola (MOT) get all the business.

Cisco posted this video on their blog explaining why they bought Navini.

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