The longer it takes for alternative infrastructures such as WiMax and Broadband Powerlines (BPL) to become properly standardised (which in turn will lead to commercially viable projects and solutions) the more difficult it will be for these technologies to have any serious impact on broadband infrastructure developments.
While companies plan to sell WiMax products next year, this might be too late for the more developed broadband markets. The technology will therefore have to find a better starting point in emerging markets.
BPL is another technology waiting to get off the ground but, apart from the USA, there are still serious regulatory issues that are making large-scale roll-outs difficult. Also, there is still no defined standard and that will push commercially viable roll-out dates back to 2006 and beyond.
The industry is still very optimistic about the potential of WiMax and BPL to make high-speed wireless Internet services available across regions – but commercial viability continues to be a cause for concern.
Scarce spectrum, radio interference and wide availability of DSL and cable will slow down WiMax and BPL for some years.
The most promising prospects are for regional operators. For them BPL and WiMax could extend networks and avoid the high costs of new wires in the ground.
Australia is one of the few developed countries where WiMax and BPL might have a better chance. There is hardly any infrastructure-based competition, and the only company which could provide this, Optus with its HFC network, is taking a very lacklustre approach – preferring, instead, to rely on wholesale arrangements with the incumbent telco.
WiMax and BPL operators could perhaps fill the gap here and take a similar role to the cable TV companies in Europe and North America. But these infrastructure competitors launched their operations at the beginning of the broadband boom, in the late 1990s, and, apart from the USA, none of the cable TV companies have been overly successful.
The reality that nobody wants to know about is that it looks as though the incumbent telcos are going to maintain their natural infrastructure for many years (decades) to come.
Global – Utilities – Powerline – Trends and Developments in 2004/2005
Global – Broadband – Wireless – WiMax Analyses
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