Thursday, October 13, 2005

Non-line-of-sight hurdle to WiMAX

For WiMAX to be succesful, it needs to add non-line-of-sight (NLOS) across a meaningful distance. Reasoning is as follows:

  • For WIMAX to be succesful, it needs scale.
  • For scale, it needs the residential market.
  • To be competitive to DSL and cable modem internet, the cost may not exceed some 30 EUR/month.
  • This can only be done with self-install CPE.
  • Self-install CPE is necessarily indoors.
  • Which implies the need for NLOS.

Much touted bit rates (up to 120 Mbps) and reach (up to 30 miles) are therefore much lower in realistic environments. This goes for NLOS product offerings from vendors like Navini, Alvarion, Clearwire and Redline.

It is kind of hard to get these kinds of data from those companies, but thanks to picoChip we have the above figure. We are talking 2 km max, and bit rates probably in the 2 Mbps ballpark. Now that's a whole different business model (more base stations!).

Final note: providers may disagree on the reasoning. Enertel Wireless for one so far focuses on the business markt. But then, it uses LOS systems, which can provide 5 Mbps symmetric over a distance of 10-15 km.

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