WiMAX is ideal for regional broadband growth, say WiMAX MEGNA attendees

Sprint Nextel’s XoHM service set to test of viability of WiMAX in the region

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By  Derek Francis Published  March 16, 2008

The second annual WiMAX MEGNA conference saw over 150 attendees debate the viability of WiMAX, with international players such as Sprint Nextel and Nortel discussing the progress of their roll-outs.

The event, endorsed by the WiMAX Forum, boasted over 20 speakers from the regional and international stage, with nine operator case studies and multiple panel sessions.

“It’s the first time I’ve seen a large attendance from operators in the region - even international operators like Sprint Nextel,” Faissal Damaj, wireless business development director, Nortel, told CommsMEA. “Clearly there’s a lot of force going into WiMAX in the region. The operators are showing face and discussing their implementations.”

WiMAX is considered ideal for the Middle East and Africa telco sector, which predominantly suffers from low broadband penetration and a lack of wireline infrastructure. By adopting WiMAX, fixed-line players can launch broadband services relatively quickly, with CAPEX and OPEX benefits.

Sprint Nextel’s XoHM service came under particular scrutiny, with Milan Sallaba, partner at consultant Oliver Wyman, telling attendees that if Sprint cannot successfully deploy WiMAX, it would be difficult for others to do so.

“They have all the technological features in their favour; they have the scale and a bit further down, the learning curve is there – so that’s one to watch,” he said.

Speaking about XoHM, Chris Weasler, vice president, global development, Sprint Nextel, said during his keynote address: “WiMAX will hopefully lead to a classic win-win scenario: carrier service providers will benefit from an IP-based architecture and technology that drives a cost-performance advantage not provided by 3G networks.

“There are new revenue streams and models, and plus there’s a time to market advantage. We anticipate the economies of scales from deployments will help lowers costs and boost mass market adoption in the future. Customers will also benefit, because they will see new types of devices with new capabilities and new types of applications available to them that go beyond the traditional walled-garden approach,” he added.

The WiMAX MEGNA Conference took place over two days on March 10-11, at the Courtyard By Marriott in Dubai.

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