Thursday, August 23, 2007

What now for US WiMAX spectrum?

Much has changed in the last twelve months. Firstly, the FCC opened 50 MHz in the 3.65 GHz band for "non-exclusive access" while not exactly "free" or protected spectrum, it is a significant improvement over the prospects of 5.8 GHz use (popular as unlicensed backhaul or in Wi-Fi-related operations). There are many ways an operator might weave this spectrum into their business plans (rural, first mover, low cost per sub, best effort residential, roaming, etc). One ultimate conclusion to take away from these developments: don't speculate on spectrum! The 2.5 GHz WiMAX hegemony predicted for Sprint Nextel and Clearwire may not happen given potential competition from competitors on other bands which may allow any variety of competitive advantages (better propagation on 700 MHz, "free" spectrum on 3.65 GHz, for example) to those operators (the stuff for a detailed competitive analysis for vendor and service provider, alike).