|Issue:||Latin America 2006|
|Topic:||WiMAX – broadband wireless alternative|
|Author:||Oscar Vaz Clarke|
|Title:||President and General Manger|
|Organisation:||Intel do Brasil|
Oscar Vaz Clarke is the President of Intel for Brazil and is responsible for Intel’s Marketing and Sales operations. Mr Clarke came to Intel from Hitachi Brazil, where he was a Country Manager. Beforehand, Mr Clarke worked for EMC as a Director of Sales, Channel, Alliances and Service Providers. He also worked at IBM, as Business and Marketing Strategy Manager. Mr Clarke graduated in Engineering from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and has a Master of Business Degree from FEA-USP.
Wireless broadband is the most cost-effective way to deliver broadband access, be it to businesses, to the inner-city ghetto or to remote rural areas. Three technologies are currently the leaders in broadband wireless. Mobile phone 3G technologies can offer broadband, but the price is high. WiFi, a local area networking technology, has a range of only about 100 feet. WiMax, however, was designed for broadband data; it can reach up to 50km and, with VoIP, provides high-quality voice.
According to data issued by Anatel, Brazil’s telecommunications regulatory agency, and Brazil’s Ministry of Communications, 43 per cent of Brazilian cities still lack mobile telephony, broadband or cable TV services. Deprived of these technologies, these municipalities are restricted to offering only fixed telephony services. This technology still has an enormous growth potential and may expand even in those municipalities where broadband services are available. The current broadband market share in Brazil corresponds to approximately three per cent of its population. In order to ensure the wide-ranging adoption of broadband Internet and mobility services, these technologies need to reach Brazil’s remotest rural districts. But with traditional technology, the high cost of cables and fibres turns this task into an unfeasible venture. In view of the above, wireless technology is certainly today’s best option. When speaking of wireless technology, it must be noted that major investments have not yet been earmarked to either 2.4G or WiFi mobile networks. Answers must be given to many remaining questions regarding wireless broadband, and an expected return on investment analysis must be prepared in order to achieve a large-scale adhesion to wireless broadband technologies, such as WiMAX. One of the main doubts and misunderstandings raised lie in the need to decide which wireless broadband technology to invest in – 3G, WiFi or WiMAX. The market continues under the mistaken belief that these technologies are 100 per cent competitive and that they cover evenly all the needs of their end users. Although they do compete regarding applications, and under just a few specific situations, each one of these technologies has its own characteristics and they are fully complementary. Mobile telephony’s 3G is a technology that gives priority to voice and, although it has the capacity to offer broadband connectivity, it does so at an extremely high cost. WiFi is a local area networking, LAN, broadband technology with a range of only 100 metres, or so, while WiMAX is a data broadband network that, under certain conditions, may achieve a 50km coverage radius, and can even be used for voice applications (VoIP). This shows clearly that each technology has a specific role to play regarding what it can offer to cover consumer requirements, which is the reason that backs the fact that they can co-exist. Some manufacturers are still trying to position WiFi with a mesh network configuration as an alternative to WiMAX despite the fact that the efficiency of the WiFi mesh solution demands addressing several technical and conceptual challenges. These challenges include the problems raised by security guarantees, QoS, management, dependability and availability of access points – none of which are proprietary to the service provider who will be deploying the network. It is therefore clear that this solution is feasible only for some very specific, but limited, applications and only under certain conditions. A service provider that demands to have full control over his network would certainly not adopt the WiFi mesh solution. The WiMAX technology standard was developed with the objective to address the needs and demands of a wireless broadband network based upon the Internet Protocol. WiMAX is standardized (IEEE 802.16) and open to any interested party that wants to develop products and services based on this standard. The standardisation of this technology allows developers to obtain the advantages of economy of scale, including a significantly lower total cost, than those obtained with other broadband technologies. Furthermore, WiMAX is the only technology that will already offer total mobility to its end users in 2007. WiMAX allows the use of a variety of services that would only be available through the combination of several other technologies. Few limitations exist for new applications based upon such a flexible, quite cost-efficient technology. WiMAX was developed as an open standard, with full interoperability; this permits establishing networks with high-speed, easy-to-install wireless IP connectivity that include implementation of robust QoS and security right from the start. In addition to the traditional broadband and mobility applications, obtained using WiMAX enabled notebooks and mobile devices, there are a number of not so obvious applications of this technology. WiMAX-based applications already in the works include: security monitoring for streets, buildings, and cars, etc.; traffic control in large cities; remote measurement of utilities such as water, light and gas, etc.; transportation fleet/itinerary control in general; IPTV transmission; VoIP; on-line distance education; on-line distance health interventions, and the like. Frost & Sullivan estimates that some 2.8 million consumers will be using WiMAX in Brazil by 2010. Juniper Research, on the other hand, foresees that the total number of WiMAX mobile users will jump from 1.7 million in 2007 to 21.3 million by 2012. According to our own research, this technology may account for 28 per cent of world broadband connectivity by 2010. A good example of the WiMAX progress and potential is the case of Neovia, a company that currently has 35,000 customers just in the State of São Paulo. Neovia has already received several investments, including some from a major multi-national’s investment subsidiary. We have been actively participating in developing an ecosystem that will strengthen the Brazilian digital future. The adoption of the WiMAX technology will allow remote areas and those with difficult geographic conditions to obtain broadband Internet access and, due to its infrastructure, will have a considerable impact upon the growth and reach of the country’s educational system. Brazil is currently implementing several ambitious pilot projects. The government announced the most important such project in December of last year. The project, developed jointly with the Ministry of Communications, entailed the official choice of WiMAX earlier this year to participate in a digital inclusion project sponsored by the Federal Government called GESAC. Over the next few years, WiMAX will undoubtedly change market scenarios throughout the world. WiMAX incorporates significant enhancements compared to previous technologies. Modern IT, information technology, management activities today offer much more than the mere possibility of supporting business activities, especially when coupled with mobility. Due to their extraordinary evolution, they currently operate as strategic business partners, assisting companies in achieving growth and ever-increasing profitability. Accordingly, it is essential to make heavy investments in mobility to move rapidly down this outstanding evolutionary path. Doing so helps to ensure the growth of productivity in all business activities, improves service quality, and enhances the efficiency companies can expect from their workers. With mobility, workers no long need to stay confined to their office environment. On the contrary, they are free to spend most of their time with their customers at their manufacturing facilities or they can even work at home. Special tools, solutions and capacity building opportunities have been created to allow workers to improve the management of their time and increase their productivity levels using mobility as the core driving force. The progress achieved by the wireless technologies designed for new mobile-computers can be seen in the new lines of highly innovative, WiMAX-enabled notebooks currently being launched on the market. The reduced size of components and devices, the lower energy consumption and the extended battery life this affords, as well as the breath-catching design innovations to take full advantage of the new technologies, combine to help professionals perform their tasks more productively. WiMAX technology will give workers mobility-supported freedom that not only ensures higher processing speeds and the resulting increased productivity, but also enables them to achieve their quest to ensure full satisfaction for in-house customers.