While wireless broadband can operate in both the licensed and unlicensed spectrum, in the end the licensed spectrum provides the right infrastructure for carrier-grade wireless broadband services.
In Australia spectrum for these services is dominated by Unwired. Not only do they have a near monopoly on this spectrum – they also have approximately ten times more spectrum than the mobile operators.
If we narrow wireless broadband down to WiMAX then we see that this technology can not be used within the spectrum range in which the current WiFi services operate.
Over time, devices will have an increased capacity to support multiple radios through silicon integration. Recently handsets were launched which support BluetoothforPersonal Area Networks (headsets). WiFi in the handsets will be next providing for LAN capability. Towards the end of this decade handsets (and other devices) will also include WiMAX.
With the ability to connect to several networks, these devices will startto manage a hierarchy of how it connects. I already can do this today with my notebook; it understandswired vs. wireless connections and has the ability to identify and select which wireless network I want to connect to. The wireless connection decision treewill need tobecome easier/seamless over time.
This, of course, sets the scene for interesting scenarios in the future. If wireless broadband is indeed getting off the ground along the lines I, and others, envisage, there is no doubt that a spectrum reorganisation will follow, opening up more spectrum for such services. Regulators around the world are currently addressing this issue, and in Australia the regulator, ACMA, is also actively preparing itself for such a changed environment.
In particular, there is a lot of pressure on utilising 2.5gHz spectrum, which is currently in use by broadcasters for electronic news gathering purposes (ENG). Often based on old technologies, many services are wasting an awful lot of spectrum. In the old days this wasn’t a problem, but, with more sophisticated products now being offered, this market needs be tidied up and reorganised in order to facilitate the many new developments that are in the offing.
See also: Broadband Wireless Global
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