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Regional WiMAX projects proceeding despite claims technology 'failed miserably'

CEO of Australian WiMAX operator says WiMAX a 'disaster'

Operators and vendors in the Middle East say they are still have confidence in the technology, despite comments from an Australian operator that the technology has ‘failed miserably’

Speaking at the international WiMAX conference in Bangkok last week, the CEO of Australia’s first WiMAX operator, Buzz Broadband, said that the technology was a “disaster” that “failed miserably”.

Garth Freeman warned that the technology was “mired in opportunistic hype”, stating “non-existent” non-line-of-sight performance further than two kilometers from a base station and latencies of up to 1000 milliseconds when the technology was used indoors, a crippling problem for VoIP services.

With WiMAX projects currently under development in Jordan, Pakistan, Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, regional confidence in the technology is clear.

As one of the principal vendors for WiMAX in the Gulf region, Motorola has since stated that their faith in the wireless technology remains strong.

Noel Kirkady, Motorola’s regional Director of Wireless Broadband, said the company couldn’t comment on Mr. Garth’s situation specifically as Motorola was not involved with Buzz Broadband. Kirkaldy explained that Buzz was using 802.16d WiMAX, while Motorola's products use the more recent 802.16e tech.

Kirkady went on to say that as WiMAX was the latest generation of communications technology, things like this were to be expected in the initial deployment phase. According to Kirkaldy, the company was “used to this.”

“We saw it in analog-cellular, and 3G. We’ve seen it in handovers. We’re used to this and we’ll overcome it.”

Regional telecoms giant Zain made their WiMAX service available in Bahrain in November 2007. Antoine Abou Khalil of Zain Corporate Communications shared similar feelings to Kirkady, saying: “It’s strange that he’s issuing these complaints about the technology as a whole. The technology today is better than it was 12 months ago. The new tech doesn’t have these problems.”

Miguel Myhrer, a senior executive at Accenture’s North American wireless network practice, also spoke out after Freeman’s comments: “"WiMAX will have spectacular failures going forward, and if it doesn't, I'd be surprised.”

Meanwhile Nortel, a major manufacturer of WiMAX chips, continues to see strong opportunities for the technology. The company has said that it continues to see Wimax as “an ideal technology that addresses the needs of today's underserved communities bringing high-speed wireless Internet to fixed and mobile subscribers, some of whom have never before had any sort of network connection available to them."

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