Gartner advises caution on WiMax

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WiMax is a "niche technology" best suited for emerging markets that have yet to build a broadband infrastructure, according to industry analysts.

A recent Gartner Research study urges US businesses to take a wait-and-see approach to WiMax until deployment becomes widespread and more dual-mode handsets become available.

WiMax provides fixed broadband wireless metropolitan access networks employing a point-to-multipoint architecture.

The much-hyped technology has been eagerly awaited by organisations hoping to benefit from superfast downloads and upload speeds from distances of up to 50km.

However, leading networks such as Sprint and Clearwire are not due to roll out commercial WiMax services until September, leaving dozens of cities without coverage until well into next year.

Gartner warned that WiMax will initially arrive as a "niche" technology, and that uptake will progress on a pay-as-you go model akin to the adoption of Wi-Fi.

The absence of dual-mode handsets and a lack of mobile network coverage will provide additional challenges for organisations looking for WiMax data and mobile voice capabilities, leaving business dependant on VoIP in the meantime.

Sprint has chosen Baltimore as the first major city to enjoy commercial WiMax services in September. Washington DC and Chicago are set to follow later in the year.
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