RE :Wimax, a few articles, (Not all positive)
Long read, but gives an excellelent summary.
1/ WiMax Keeps Gathering Momentum
The "ultimate complement to Wi-Fi," it's expected to be widely available commercially in 2006, with Intel likely leading the way
A number of recent developments since my last column (see BW Online, 6/20/05, "Here Comes WiMax World") indicate that all of the pieces are coming together for WiMax service.
We at Standard & Poor's Equity Research feel confident that WiMax service will be commercially available in 2006. Trials by telecommunications carriers around the world are already under way.
TESTING IN SUNNY SPAIN. We believe WiMax is the ultimate complement to Wi-Fi, capable of back-hauling wireless hot spots and wireless LANs (local area networks) to the Internet, providing campus connectivity, and offering a wireless alternative to cable and DSL for last-mile broadband access. It has a service range of up to 50 kilometers and provides data rates of up to 280 megabits per second per base station.
Just as a refresher, WiMax stands for worldwide interoperability for microwave access. It's a wireless technology that has been updated from IEEE 802.16 to the 802.16-2004 specifications for fixed wireless services.
Many vendors are beginning to submit their WiMax base-station and customer-premises equipment for network interoperability testing at Cenecom, the WiMax Forum Certification Laboratory, which opened in early August in Malaga, Spain. This means all WiMax products must comply with 802.16-2004 and be certified by Cenecom in Spain.
CORPORATE DONATIONS. Intel (INTC ; ranked hold; recent price: $26) plans to begin shipping its new WiMax chip, known as Rosedale, to customers in late 2005. It has entered into nonexclusive alliances with Alcatel (ALA ; hold; $12) and Nokia (NOK ; hold; $16) to deliver WiMax equipment in the second half of 2005.
This month, Intel said it's already helping 13 communities in the U.S. and internationally in varied wireless projects like Wi-Fi, and we expect it to expand to broader WiMax networks in the coming months. According to Reuters, Intel expects to work with more than 100 cities around the globe to improve public services via WiMax use.
Many cities are planning Wi-Fi and WiMax networks to bring affordable broadband wireless Internet service to all their residents within a year. Intel has donated capital to projects in several cities, including Philadelphia, Cleveland, Corpus Christi, Tex., and Portland, Ore.
SERVICE-PROVIDER QUESTIONS. Recently, Philadelphia selected EarthLink (ELNK ; hold; $9) and Hewlett-Packard (HPQ ; hold; $27) as finalists in a bidding process for the construction of a citywide wireless broadband network.
While the equipment suppliers and chipmakers see win-win scenarios for deploying WiMax, the picture is far from clear on the service-provider side of the business. Right now, there's no authorized radio frequency spectrum from the Federal Communications Commission for the issuance of WiMax licenses.
Conventional thinking would suggest, in our view, that licenses are needed for startups to get funded from the capital markets in addition to private-equity firms. So for the major wireless carriers, which paid billions of dollars to the FCC for authorized 3G licenses or additional radio frequency spectrum, how can WiMax be a good thing for their broadband wireless business or return on invested capital?
ROOFTOPS KEY. The U.S. has several emerging fixed wireless carriers, including AirBand, Clearwire, and TowerStream. These carriers believe bandwidth is adequate within 50 megahertz to 500 megahertz bands for Wi-Fi and WiMax without seeking radio frequency licenses from the FCC.
TowerStream will be able to provide quick installation times, with 48-hour guarantees for new equipment that will be SIP-enabled, a stantard that allows for Internet voice service. In early August, TowerStream announced an alliance with Vonage Marketing, a subsidiary of Vonage Holdings, so its customers can choose Vonage's small-business Net telephone services with low-rate billing.
The barriers to entry may be weak for WiMax from a license regulatory perspective, but some startups believe the value proposition is tied more to building rooftops.
PRICE DROPPING. If a WiMax provider is able to secure "last interference rights" through long-term lease contracts for the tallest buildings' rooftops, these companies may gain a strong advantage over late entrants or incumbent service providers that lack the optimum line-of-sight to the target customers or office buildings in metropolitan markets.
Some of these companies don't believe you need a uniformed radio frequency in the U.S. market. In our view, vendors can make adjustments in the radio frequency used by the base-station equipment and customer-premises equipment, but the economies of scale that lead to lower WiMax equipment pricing may be problematic.
Nonetheless, TowerStream sees base-station equipment in the $30,000 to $40,000 range in 2006 and self-installed customer gear priced at $400 to $500 per unit initially, then coming down to around $250 in 18 months.
QUALCOMM'S PLAN. OFDMA, which stands for Orthogonal frequency division multiplex access, is the preferred radio air frequency for WiMax. This radio frequency technology has many developers but, in our view, it remains uncertain whether any single one has the OFDMA intellectual-property rights as they relate to WiMax.
Qualcomm (QCOM ; buy; $40), however, a leading developer and innovator of code division multiple access (CDMA) and other advanced wireless technologies, announced in August that it plans to acquire Flarion Technologies, a pioneer and leading developer of OFDMA technology and the inventor of FLASH-OFDM technology for mobile broadband Internet protocol services.
Flarion, with an expansive portfolio of OFDMA intellectual property, has worked closely with several operators worldwide in developing and demonstrating OFDMA technology and products. Qualcomm plans to pay approximately $600 million net of Flarion's projected cash at closing, in Qualcomm stock and cash, including the assumption of options and warrants at fair value.
LAPTOP PLANS. Upon the satisfaction of certain milestones over the next few years, Qualcomm may also pay an additional $205 million in the form of cash and Qualcomm stock. Completion of the acquisition, which is subject to necessary approvals, is expected later this year.
It's worth noting that the first WiMax Forum-certified products are targeted for fixed WiMax services, not mobile. The initial certifications will cover equipment in the 3.5-gigahertz frequency band. The forum will make sure all future enhancements to the baseline profiles will support backward compatibility.
Probably by early 2007, the WiMax Forum plans to certify IEEE 802.16e for mobile wireless access from laptops and handhelds. We believe Dell (DELL ; strong buy; $36) and other major PC makers are already talking with Intel and other chipmakers about their design requirements for WiMax inside a laptop.
Other WiMax vendors are busy. In addition to Intel, Japanese chipmaker Fujitsu announced in early 2005 that it had begun developing a chip similar to Rosedale, which it hoped to launch in 2006. Select members of the WiMax Forum -- including Airspan Networks (AIRN ; buy; $5), Alvarion (ALVR ; buy; $9), Aperto Networks, Ensemble Communications, Navini Networks, Nokia, Proxim, and Wi-LAN -- plan to start shipping products in late 2005 or 2006. We would expect Cisco Systems' (CSCO ; buy; $18) Linksys division, Netgear (NTGR ; strong buy; $22), and others to be very active through consumer-electronics channels with WiMax products.
In the U.S.
As of June 30, 2005, research analysts at Standard & Poor's Equity Research Services U.S. have recommended 30.2% of issuers with buy recommendations, 57.5% with hold recommendations and 12.3% with sell recommendations.
As of June 30, 2005, research analysts at Standard & Poor's Equity Research Services Europe have recommended 34.4% of issuers with buy recommendations, 46.8% with hold recommendations and 18.8% with sell recommendations.
As of June 30, 2005, research analysts at Standard & Poor's Equity Research Services Asia have recommended 33.3% of issuers with buy recommendations, 47.2% with hold recommendations and 19.5% with sell recommendations.
As of June 30, 2005, research analysts at Standard & Poor's Equity Research Services globally have recommended 31.0% of issuers with buy recommendations, 55.4% with hold recommendations and 13.6% with sell recommendations.
5-STARS (Strong Buy): Total return is expected to outperform the total return of a relevant benchmark, by a wide margin over the coming 12 months, with shares rising in price on an absolute basis.
4-STARS (Buy): Total return is expected to outperform the total return of a relevant benchmark over the coming 12 months, with shares rising in price on an absolute basis.
3-STARS (Hold): Total return is expected to closely approximate the total return of a relevant benchmark over the coming 12 months, with shares generally rising in price on an absolute basis.
2-STARS (Sell): Total return is expected to underperform the total return of a relevant benchmark over the coming 12 months, and the share price is not anticipated to show a gain.
1-STARS (Strong Sell): Total return is expected to underperform the total return of a relevant benchmark by a wide margin over the coming 12 months, with shares falling in price on an absolute basis.
Relevant benchmarks: in the U.S. the relevant benchmark is the S&P 500 Index, in Europe the S&P Europe 350 Index, in Asia the S&P Asia 50 Index, and in Malaysia the KLCI or KL Emas Index.
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2/Why WiMax Could Hit the Hotspot
Wednesday October 5, 8:26 am ET
By Steve Rosenbush
Wi-Fi has changed the way people navigate the Internet, and in record time. The technology, which is used to create wireless networks in small areas such as homes, offices, and parks, allows millions to move about freely while they surf the Web with laptops and PDAs.
Demand is soaring, thanks to faster, cheaper, and more reliable technology, and to open standards that let tech giants like Intel (NasdaqNM:INTC - News) bundle Wi-Fi radios into mass-market computers. The number of Wi-Fi users is expected to soar 57% this year, to 118 million worldwide, according to Pyramid Research. Not bad for a technology that's only a few years old.
NEW TECH, NEW PLAYERS. Encouraged by Wi-Fi's success, tech companies are poised to launch a new wireless technology called WiMax, which will allow even faster Internet access across larger areas. WiMax creates "hotspots" that stretch dozens of miles and allow users to surf the Web wirelessly at speeds that are much faster than connections via a digital subscriber line (DSL) or cable modem. A single WiMax radio is 20 or 30 times faster than a household broadband connection.
And WiMax is more than just a faster version of WiFi. Proponents believe that the technology will be a cheaper, faster alternative to all manner of communication, from DSL and cable modems to regular phones and wireless devices. It will allow newcomers to enter the communications market, creating a challenge to existing service providers and equipment makers alike.
"A WiMax platform's ability to deliver lots of capacity at lower prices could be very disruptive to existing broadband business models. When you put voice over WiMax, it could also disrupt the wireline and wireless voice businesses," says Andrew Decker, chairman of the global telecom group at Bear Stearns Investment Banking.
EARLIER TRIES. All that could happen quickly. Decker notes that the time frame required for a new technology to reach widespread acceptance is getting shorter. It took a decade for cell phones and CD players to really take off, but new technology such as Wi-Fi, digital cameras, and Apple's (NasdaqNM:AAPL - News) iPods have achieved mass adoption in much less time. "Could WiMax become disruptive in three to five years?" Decker says. "Sure."
Seasoned telecom hands have heard this sort of talk before. During the telecom boom of the late '90s, companies from AT&T (NYSE:T - News) and MCI (NasdaqNM:MCIP - News) to Winstar, Teligent, and Cellularvision invested billions of dollars in the idea. The thought was to beam wireless data to pizza-boxed-size antennas on customers' roofs, bypassing the local lines owned by the Bells and the cable TV companies. None of the efforts paid off, largely because the so-called fixed wireless technology was too expensive and prone to interference.
There are still plenty of skeptics who say that WiMax will run into a different set of obstacles. Available licensed spectrum -- the valuable swaths of the radio band where access is controlled by the government to minimize interference -- is in the hands of a few big providers. Telecom companies such as Verizon (NYSE:VZ - News) and Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S - News) already have begun to roll out 3G wireless networks that will have a head start in the wireless Internet market.
PLATFORM ANXIETY. Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg says wireless phone networks are evolving quickly and that they have advantages over WiMax, including ubiquity of coverage. Verizon and Sprint use a wireless data technology called EV-DO. Future generations of the technology will boast speeds as fast as 15 to 20 megabits per second, from about half a megabit a second. EV-DO and other varieties of 3G technology used by Cingular, a venture of SBC (NYSE:SBC - News) and BellSouth (NYSE:BLS - News), also can make use of nearly complete cell-phone networks built up over the last two decades.
And cell-phone companies can support their products with sophisticated customer service and billing platforms. "WiMax is a good niche technology, but it needs to be part of a broader platform," Seidenberg says. "You can't just throw up a tower and give people free access."
WiMax may not be the only disruptive force in the wireless market, but it's bound to be one of them. It's already giving new life to the aspirations of a few upstart telecom companies, which all but vanished after the stock market crash of 2000.
WAITING AND WATCHING. Remember Covad (AMEX:DVW - News)? It's been through bankruptcy, but now it's back, under the management of CEO Charles Hoffman, an SBC veteran. The provider managed to assemble its own nationwide DSL network aimed at business customers in 44 states, but it still leases the phone-company-owned copper lines that link its customers to nearby offices in the field. Starting next year, it's going to bypass the phone companies by selling wireless WiMax connections. "We think WiMax is going to be big," Hoffman says.
Other upstart broadband companies will also rely on WiMax. There's NextWeb, a regional player that sells wireless Internet access in California. TowerStream plans to use WiMax technology, too. What's more, it has teamed up with Internet-phone upstart Vonage, which will use the network to deliver its voice services.
Some of these new providers will use WiMax technology to provide high-speed Net access in rural markets where it's too expensive to lay fiber-optic cables all the way to customers' homes and offices (see BW Online, 9/2/05, "After Chaos, Changes in Calling"). Even some established players, such as BellSouth (NYSE:BLS - News) and AT&T (NYSE:T - News), are testing WiMax technology, a sign that big companies could try and grab the market for themselves should the technology take off.
'HOARDING SPECTRUM.' The future of the very smallest companies is uncertain, though. The telecom bust reinforced one of the age-old truths of the communications business: scale and scope matter. While the market may support a few upstarts like Covad, the regional players like NextWeb are going to have a tougher time on their own. Some are likely to be acquired. "Big companies are hoarding spectrum," NextWeb CEO and founder Graham Barnes says. "The government needs to do a better job of getting it into the hands of companies that need it."
At first, people hoped that WiMax would operate on unlicensed radio spectrum, just the way Wi-Fi does. Wi-Fi could proliferate because operators didn't have to pay for costly licenses. That made it affordable for small businesses to buy equipment for as little as $50. While Wi-Fi is prone to interference from microwave ovens and other small devices, WiMax signals that travel over miles are subject to countless sources of interference.
Unlicensed spectrum in the 5.8 gigahertz range can be used in relatively unpopulated rural areas. Most populous zones require licensed spectrum, which is available at 2.5 gigahertz and 3.5 gigahertz. But the 3.5 gig spectrum is mostly in the hands of the government, and Sprint Nextel owns about 85% of the licenses in the 2.5 gig range. Sprint has just started to roll out its 3G phone service, but it's already testing WiMax technology from Alvarion (NasdaqNM:ALVR - News) and Aperto that could be used for even faster 4G service toward the end of the decade, according to Sprint Nextel spokesman James Fisher (see BW Online, 8/26/05, "WiMax Keeps Gathering Momentum").
SETTING STANDARDS. Prices for WiMax gear are falling fast. During the late '90s, companies like AT&T struggled to get the cost of fixed wireless down to $500 a customer. Now the price is $200 and dropping, says analyst Emmy Johnson of Skylight Research. That will help drive sales into the mainstream. She expects sales of global WiMax equipment to jump from $23 million this year to $200 million or more in 2006 and $1 billion or more by 2008.
The number of WiMax connections is expected to hit 8 million in 2009, compared with less than 100,000 forecast for 2005, according to Johnson. The key to driving sales is the establishment of global standards. The worldwide WiMax Forum, which includes players such as Intel and Dell (NasdaqNM:DELL - News), has agreed upon standards for fixed and portable WiMax devices, like computers and laptops.
Standards for mobile devices like phones and PDAs will be established by late 2006 or early 2007. And a laboratory called Cenecom has been established in Malaga, Spain, to certify that products comply. By next year, Dell laptops loaded with Intel WiMax chips (called Rosedale) will hit the market and benefit from the sort of marketing blitz that made Wi-Fi a global success.
DOUBLE BYPASS. WiMax has the power to disrupt the telecom market by throwing control of the customer up for grabs. Wi-Fi isn't that threatening to telecom and cable companies because customers need a fixed broadband connection such as a DSL or cable modem to make it work. Wi-Fi is simply a wireless version of a broadband extension cord with a reach of a few dozen yards. But WiMax eliminates the need for a fixed broadband connection in the home. It allows outfits like Covad to completely bypass the telecom companies. And as WiMax goes mobile, it will allow upstarts to bypass the wireless phone companies, too.
Timing is everything in life. Companies such as AT&T searched desperately for such a local phone bypass in the late '90s. AT&T experimented with fixed wireless before it moved on to cable. Both failed, and now SBC is buying AT&T for $16 billion. WiMax came along a few years too late to save AT&T. But it may offer a new generation of companies a shot.
3/WiMAX nears climax
The wireless WiMAX standard should be ready very soon, and Alvarion has teamed with Lucent to take advantage.
The final version of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ (IEEE) 802.16e standard will probably be approved at the end of this month. This will make it possible to provide mobile WiMAX services. 802.16 is a series of standards for the various forms of WiMAX. 802.16e Task Group chair Brian G. Kiernan wrote last week, “It has been completed and sent out for, hopefully, a final re-circulation about one hour ago. If that recirc goes clear, we are done. We’ll know in two weeks.”
This standard, which will probably be called 802.16-2005, is a continuation of the WiMAX standard for fixed devices, such as for community switches. The standard for fixed devices, approved in 2004, is called 802.16-2004. Mobile WiMAX focuses on mobile broadband devices. Commercial launching of fixed WiMAX products is expected in the first half of 2006, while product availability of mobile WiMAX devices is not expected before the second half of 2006.
Meanwhile the www.unstrung.com website, one of the most widely respected futuristic websites, reports that Lucent Technologies (NYSE: LU) is joining forces with Alvarion (Nasdaq: ALVR; TASE: ALVR) in the mobile WiMAX field. In January, Lucent announced that it planned to resell Alvarion fixed wireless kit based the 802.16-2004 standard.
Senior Unstrung Europe editor Justin Springham believes that joint Lucent-Alvarion tests of the 802.16-2004 kit will begin next month. Alvarion North American VP marketing Carlton O'Neal said, “The deal includes mobile.” Alvarion VP marketing Rudy Leser added, “The agreement is an OEM agreement, where Lucent is selling Alvarion’s WiMAX product line.” Alvarion has not yet published anything about this important matter, while a Lucent spokesperson sent an e-mail to Unstrung, which said, “Our work with Alvarion remains focused on 802.16-2004. We have nothing further to announce or share at this time.” What is involved is the sale by Lucent of Alvarion’s end-user equipment.
”What is certain is that the vendor is bullish on its plans for wireless broadband technology,” Springham writes. If the Lucent-Alvarion agreement is extended to the 802.16-2005 mobile WiMAX standard, then Alvarion will have passed its most important test attaining an OEM agreement with a leading infrastructure company. Keep in mind that a previously mentioned agreement with Siemens (NYSE: SI; XETRA: SIE) was called off because Siemens decided to go it alone, while Alvarion’s agreement with Alcatel (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEN) was confined to the 802.16-2004 fixed WiMAX standard. Meanwhile, the Alvarion share is falling, and in my opinion, it’s just getting more interesting, but that’s only what I think.
Published by Globes [online] - www.globes.co.il - on September 22, 2005
4/“WiMAX unlikely to succeed”
Gartner Group's Ken Delaney: Existing technology works fine.
Guy Hadass 28 Sep 05 16:41
“I don’t believe what WiMAX proponents say. I want to see it with my own eyes. WiMAX has quite a few difficulties with its technology, regulation, and business model. WiMAX technology has to compete with WiFi technology, which already exists and works very well. I don’t think that WiMAX has much chance of success,” Gartner Group VP mobile computing Kenneth (Ken) Delaney told "Globes" yesterday. Delaney is aware of the enormous pressure that chip giant Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) is exerting to promote WiMAX. He therefore predicts that WiMAX will eventually catch on as a stationary alternative to wireline infrastructure, but he says that even then, it will happen only in niches, in places lacking wireline infrastructure, or in places where WiMAX is the way to compete with wireline. Delaney does not believe that WiMAX poses a threat to wireless, or that it can provide a solution for coverage of large areas.
”The spread of WiFi is organic, and resembles the way the Internet spread. Each person buys a wireless access point and, very quickly, entire areas have Internet access. Everywhere you go in urban areas, you can turn on the computer and hook up to the Internet, so what reason is there to switch to WiMAX? I don’t get it,” Delaney says, and adds, “Today, it’s cheaper, faster, and more reliable to cover any area, no matter how big, with WiFi. The amount of equipment that WiMAX equipment manufacturers are talking about is completely wrong. In practice, you need much more to supply a genuine demand from consumers, and the cost is therefore much higher than what they’re talking about.”
There are two versions of WiMAX: the stationary version, which is called 802.16d or 802.16-2004, and the mobile version, which is called 802.16e. Delaney regards that latter as more questionable, and does not believe it will achieve commercial success. Another serious problem with WiMAX is that is uses frequencies that require a license, which means that not everybody can set up a WiMAX network; only communications operators can do it. It is still not clear how strong a motive they have to set up such a network.
Delaney was in Israel to take part in Gartner’s annual conference, which took place yesterday in the Tel Aviv Hilton Hotel. Delaney, a big fan of gadgets, walks around with a variety of wireless devices, which he uses to demonstrate what he thinks are the advantages and disadvantages of each of them.
Regarding the possibility that voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) will make inroads in the wireless industry, thereby jeopardizing wireless companies’ business model, Delaney says, “It’s now possible to operate VoIP applications on wireless networks, but the price of data communications is very high. Talking on a VoIP phone and paying for the amount of information transmitted is much more expensive than an ordinary call, so there’s no business model for it.” Delaney expects the unsuccessful relations between VoIP and wireless change only with the switch to 4G networks, in which the entire network will be IP-based, voice will be transmitted just like any other application, and will be priced accordingly. “I predict that this will happen only in 2012. We still haven’t digested 3G, so it will be a very slow process,” he says.
In an important announcement, Research in Motion Ltd. (RIM) (Nasdaq: RIMM; TSX: RIM), which makes the BlackBerry device, said it would use Intel’s processors in its devices that use enhanced data rates for GSM evolution (EDGE) technology. EDGE provides high data communications speed on a global system for mobiles (GSM) network. The BlackBerry uses Intel’s Hermon processor, which was developed in Israel. Delaney thinks that this is a significant development, because, up until now, Texas Instruments (NYSE: TXN) has dominated the mobile handset market. It now appears that the sector is about to become far more competitive. Intel’s processor is expected to excel in processing power and economical battery use.
In general, Delany is a great admirer of RIM: both its hardware (a wireless handset that provides convenient access to e-mail) and its software for managing e-mail through use of the push system. “If RIM plays its cards right and takes bold measures, it can become the next Nokia. They have to start developing new fields for more consumer-oriented devices still for businessmen, but those who want a phone first, and only afterwards a device for e-mail. Taking risks is the difference between companies that become big successes and those that disappear, like Palm. In my opinion, BlackBerry should take the risk now, because it has a window of opportunity that it might miss. RIM is a company driven by engineering, because that’s where they came from, and what they’re good at. That’s why they are liable to miss the trend and their current strategic opportunity,” Delaney explains.
Delaney predicts a great future for wireless e-mail devices that support push software. At the moment, he says, there are only two companies providing such applications: RIM and Good Technology. “There are others that say they do it, but it’s not really so,” he adds. There are now 8.5 million wireless e-mail subscribers, and Delaney claims that, within 7-10 years, every wireless device will support e-mail, and the potential is enormous for companies operating in the sector. “Motorola is also getting into the field with its Q device, which will be launched soon. This device operates the mobile version of the Window operating system, which many people want and like. Microsoft’s problem is that they are not known in secure systems. I like Q, but BlackBerry is very strong, and it will be strong for a long time. Meanwhile, I can’t visualize anybody managing to challenge its dominance,” Delaney concludes.
Published by Globes [online] - www.globes.co.il - on September 28, 2005