This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book. | June 2008 | 31
What WiMAX will enable is
a whole host of innovation
brought to the customer by
lots of different parties
Atish Gude, Sprint Nextel
when it announced its WiMAX platform plans Sprint Nextel. “By making available our open
in August 2006). APIs [including location APIs] the level of serv-
Yet Dr. Mohammad Shakouri, WiMAX ice innovation will be double or triple than what
Forum board member and vice president of we are seeing today.”
marketing, believes the cellular operators Potentially the most infl uential of all the
will not be able to execute the open business Clearwire JV partners in driving innovation and
model effectively. “3G players are opening up WiMAX market diff erentiation is Google, which
but they haven’t got the platform in place to has invested $500m in the new venture.
do it cost-effectively,” he says. “But they are “Bringing Google on board is a huge boost
talking our language. This is good for consum- for both the Sprint/Clearwire venture and
ers, the right model for business, and perfect WiMAX generally,” says Mike Roberts, a princi-
for WiMAX.” pal analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media. “For
Peter Elliott, head of wireless broadband at the venture, Google’s involvement makes it far
PA Consulting, argues that the all-IP architec- more likely that its new WiMAX platform will
ture of WiMAX only partially explains why the come packaged with compelling new Internet
mobile WiMAX players will stand out from the applications and services to help it diff erentiate
broadband crowd. “Th e WiMAX new entrants in a market where mobile broadband Internet
are more disruptors from their business model is already taking off via alternative systems
point of view than they are from technology,” such as HSPA and EV-DO Revision A. For the
he says. “Scratch below the surface and it’s not WiMAX industry, landing a signifi cant strategic
really WiMAX that’s being disruptive. It just so and fi nancial commitment from one of the top
happens that these are operators with diff erent Internet players provides signifi cant validation
approaches.” to the industry’s aspirations to diff erentiate
But, as Elliott acknowledges, better network WiMAX partly by using it as a platform for
performance than HSPA for delivering ever- new open Internet business models, devices,
increasing amounts of data should give the applications and services.”
WiMAX players a distinctive edge. “HSPA is ba- And by wholesaling WiMAX network capaci-
sically a circuit-switched technology that’s been ty to the Clearwire JV cable companies, they too,
ramped up as much as it can,” he says. “WiMAX adds Gude, will be able to innovate with a quad-
is IP. Th e world is going mobile Internet and play service that includes mobile broadband.
data, and IP technologies plug into the Internet “Th e opportunity now exists for cable companies
fantastically well.” to create a home and away service where their
cable customers can take their account wherever
An open platform for innovation they go and on any device,” he says. “Th ese serv-
Having an open and fl exible IP platform, which ices may exist today but not seamlessly.”
can leverage the skills of thousands of applica- To help drive revenue from innovation, Gude
tion developers, is a key part of Sprint Nextel’s envisages providing application and service
WiMAX business model, as well as the wider ‘enablers’ to third parties for a fee. Th ese include
WiMAX operator community. such things as customer location information,
With the intention of establishing a new presence, billing, quality of service guarantees,
Clearwire joint venture during Q4 2008 in and device management.
bringing the fi xed-line Internet experience to which it holds the largest stake (51 percent)— “In the open Internet model, the WiMAX
mobile devices; and, arguably, a much lower cost the other stakeholders are Clearwire, Intel, operator can be the broker between application
structure than incumbents’ separate fi xed and Google, Comcast Corporation, Time Warner developers and end-users,” says PA Consulting’s
mobile networks. Cable and Bright House Networks—Sprint is Elliott. “Th e traditional mobile operator value
Not all of these attributes are unique to looking to bring to market a mixture of retail chain is breaking down.”
WiMAX. Th e notion of ‘openness’ and the and wholesale WiMAX services to drive profi t- But it is in the realm of access charges and
bringing down of walled gardens, for example, able revenue. innovative tariff packages that Gude sees the
is one that has been recently espoused by Tier “What WiMAX will enable [via Clearwire] Clearwire business model as really coming into
One mobile operators, including Vodafone is a whole host of innovation brought to the its own. On a wholesale level, Clearwire—if
and Verizon (although Sprint was arguably the customer by lots of diff erent parties,” says Atish given the regulatory go-ahead—will generate
fi rst to articulate fully the open Internet model Gude, SVP of mobile broadband operations at revenue from selling capacity to its cable
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