The Economist.com features an article on WiMAX
domination postponed". Glenn Fleishman comments on the article
quite extensively, he himself got it from Techdirt Wireless: "Economist Lays The Smack Down on WiMAX". The quintessence of the article is that WiMAX has been overhyped, a statement not exactly new. It goes on on how the CPE is still to expensive with price tags around $500, etc.
One of IDC's analysts is also quoted:
In urban areas WiMax does not make sense, since it will be uneconomic compared with cable and DSL, argues Kenneth Furer, an analyst at IDC. “It's not going into New York, Los Angeles or London,” he says. It is also too expensive for use in the developing world, at least for the time being, since early WiMax access devices (which must be fixed to the outside of a building) will cost around $500; other forms of wireless link, such as mobile-phone networks, will remain a cheaper way to connect up remote villages.
Well now, I would say that Mr. Furer is not correct on that, because basically it's there already. Take Towerstream, a provider of wireless broadband services. They already cover New York and Los Angeles, as well as some other areas. Admittingly, it's not WiMAX, since it's a pre-WiMAX standard, or however you want to call it ("near-, close-, almost-, not-yet-WiMAX"), as they use a proprietary standard by Aperto Networks. But bottom line is that they are already offering many of the features that WiMAX promises, and that the Aperto solution is compliant with IEEE 802.16, of which WiMAX is a subset. So, it will take Aperto only very little to be compliant with the WiMAX specifications, in particular the standard 802.16-2004 for the fixed service, which is what Towerstream provides, and Towerstream itself has announced its intentions to switch to WiMAX once the equipment is available. Towerstream was the first service provider to join the WiMAX Forum, and Towerstream COO Jeff Thompson is actively involved in defining the different standards, and in the July 2004 issue of the Wireless Review you can find a very good article on Towerstream, titled "X Stream Wireless".
I would also disagree on saying it's too expensive. It might be too expensive for the vast part of the consumer world, but it certainly is not too expensive for business customers who are looking for an alternative to expensive T1 lines provided by wireline incumbents. T1 lines cost a hell of a lot of money (~ US$1000/month), whereas Towerstream only charges half of that price, and not only do you get 1,5 Mbps guaranteed bandwidth, you also get up to 5 Mbps best effort. Plus, the service is more flexible: you move your offices, and all you do is take your antenna along, install it outside your window (ok, takes a little effort, but oh well) and here you have your IP connection again. Try that with a landline service.
And even for consumers there is a solution around the corner. Clearwire is providing WiMAX-like services in the US, and they have been acquiring a number of licenses around the world, so be prepared for other launches. They also provide an 802.16e-like service, which means that Clearwire's service is principally portable: take your modem and put it up anywhere you want within the coverage area - again, more flexibility than with your landline DSL connection.
The comparison with a mobil phone network is just wrong. Bandwidth rates of mobile phone networks are a lot lower than for wireless broadband, even for UMTS (or CDMA), so first of all you do not get the same customer experience. If you are looking for an alternative for your DSL line and you don't want cable, well then wireless broadband is the choice (if available). Your monthly mobile phone bill would kill your budget once you start downloading all those mp3 files or videos, so it's NOT cheaper.
So I guess there is still a lot of uneducated guessing out there about WiMAX' future. Oh, and yes, one more comment on WiMAX in London: you might want to check out Liberia's website for that.