Coretron’s Tech Blog

September 29, 2008

XOHM aka WiMax or 4G is rolled out in Baltimore and may challenge cable internet and cellphone business models

Filed under: Technology — coretron @ 7:31 am

For $50/mo. with no contract you can sign up for 2 devices on the high-speed wireless network. Average speeds are supposedly 2-4Mbps down, and 1-2 up (about double 3g speeds). Current WiMax devices include PCMCIA modems, USB modems, home modems, and a few laptops with integrated WiMax as well as devices like the Nokia 810

Sprint and Clearwire along with others are behind it. Its designed for home computers and laptops on the go. This wouldn’t meet my home internet needs (need bandwidth, low latency, and consistency) and I don’t have a laptop, but I’m sure there are lots of people who would jump on $50/mo for unlimited home and mobile internet.

So if its for computers how is it going to help us cellphone users? Once they complete the planned nationwide rollout of WiMax you don’t need your cellphone carrier anymore, this is assuming they keep the same model they have for now. A device such as the N810 can use the WiMax to make and receive calls using skype. Skype has far better voice quality than a regular cellphone call. The N810 is branded as an “internet tablet” but its dimensions are reasonable at 72 × 128 × 14 mm (compared to the iphone at 62 x 116 x 12 mm). The N810 currently runs on a version of linux which allows open source applications.  There’s nothing stopping people from making an android device that uses WiMax. 

It is inevitable that we will eventually subscribe to a mobile internet carrier who will make VoIP calls and we will look back with bewilderment on the days when people used to pay  ungodly fees for things like text messages. (1MB/160 max bytes per message = 6553 msg/mb * $.20/msg = $1310/MB for text messages)

So someone could theoretically get rid of their cable internet and the mobile carrier for $50/mo. Unlimited calls, better sound quality, faster mobile internet, dirt cheap international VoIP calls, and open device friendly. No sign of WiMax for So-Cal yet, but Sprint is spending 2.5 billion in the next two years on deployment. 

Speaking of the deployment… Ususally the towers are connected through T1 lines or other wired network, but to get fast enough connections to the base of each tower was too difficult.  WiMax uses a mesh of towers connected wirelessly through a microwave system called the Horizon Duo which can transmit data at 1.6Gbps. More info on the backhaul system. One internet dweller was quoted saying “screw wimax, give me one of those microwave transmitters.” Strangely enough WiMax is already used around the world. Pakistan had WiMax in 22 cities on Dec 2007, the US has a well developed wired and wireless network so demand for WiMax is less here.

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