Tech Industry

WiMax to turbocharge alternative carriers

Research group thinks broadband wireless technology will give competitors a leg up against local operators.

Alternative telecoms operators in the United States are likely to be among the first to benefit from the rise of WiMax wireless technology.

A research note from Meta Group points to WiMax--just now becoming known as a broadband wireless standard that works over wide areas--as a way for some telecommunications providers to compete with incumbent local operators for voice services. It means they don't have to use copper lines or voice over IP technology.

The United States, since the famous Telecoms Act of 1996, hasn't had much success with long-distance carriers competing in local markets and local, usually Baby Bell, operators competing outside their regions. However, Meta reckons WiMax--short for Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access, also known as IEEE 802.16--is a technology capable of changing the playing field.

The research firm estimates that as with voice services, where the cost per line to an operator is 40 percent of that of a fixed line when provided using wireless, WiMax can provide more economical data services.

Key benefits for those carriers that adopt WiMax are likely to include lower capital expenses, lower operational expenses, reduced customer turnover and service differentiation, given that WiMax will serve fixed locations in homes and over some future mobile handsets.

Tony Hallet of reported from London.