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The next big thing after WiFi - 802.16a/WiMAX
Posted: 20-May-2003 [Source: Visant Strategies]

[WiMAX, or 802.16a, may start hitting the market as early as next year according to this study, offering higher data rates and better security.]

A more robust standard for high-speed broadband wireless delivery to laptops and desktops will augment the burgeoning WiFi market beginning in late 2004. The position of the 802.16a standard today parallels that of WLAN technology in the late 1990's, when the market finally grew as 802.11 price vs. performance gains converted WLAN from a niche to mass market. In the very near future, 802.16a will also achieve important price and performance points, a new Visant Strategies study finds.

"Under the current conditions, 802.16a could emulate 802.11's rise several years from now," said study author Visant Strategies Senior Analyst Andy Fuertes. "Many chip and equipment vendors ignored the chance to get into the 802.11 market early and create market share due to market-size limitations created by high equipment costs, a much smaller potential audience and no need for all things Internet and Intranet yet. WiMAX offers these technology companies a fresh start."

802.16a is considered the next step beyond WiFi because it is optimized for broadband operation, fixed and later mobile, in the wide area network. It already includes numerous advances that are slated for introduction into the 802.11 standard, such as quality of service, enhanced security, higher data rates, and mesh and smart antenna technology allowing better utilization of the spectrum. The study, "802.16/WiMAX Technologies: World Market Forecasts 2003-2008," finds WiMAX and WiFi complementary as the two technologies address different segments of the market and are optimized for different tasks; local vs. metropolitan area networking. Last mile access will be the first application for 802.16a but mobility will follow via 802.16e. WiMAX is considered a migration path to 4G, but more likely to be used by holders of BWA spectrum rather than mobile carriers. 802.16a is also expected to play a role in outdoor and private networks, the extension of hot spots, and backhaul applications that lack line-of -sight.

The opportunity for 802.16a equipment is forecast to reach a value of approximately $1 billion in 2008, the study finds, with growth accelerating late in the period. The study provides global forecasts for 802.16a/e equipment and chipset shipments and revenues as well as the technology's penetration in the overall global BWA market.

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