Prepare Yourself For VoIP Over WiMAX
For the past couple of years, there has been a lot written about the potential of WiMAX (worldwide interoperability for microwave access), an emerging last-mile wireless technology built on the 802.16 standard. But, very few results (in the United States, anyway) have been seen. This year is turning out to be a banner year for WiMAX, however, and VARs should take note. In January, the WiMAX Forum announced its first four certified fixed-wireless broadband network products from Aperto Networks, Redline Communications, SEQUANS Communications, and Wavesat. In May, analyst firm Semico Research Corp. forecasted WiMAX CPE (customer premise equipment) will grow from 6,000 units in 2005 to nearly 4.3 million units in 2010, representing a compound annual growth rate of more than 268%. Additionally, in July 2006, WISP (wireless Internet service provider) Clearwire Corp. secured $900 million in financing as part of a $3 billion to $4 billion nationwide WiMAX deployment.
So, the products are available, big market growth is anticipated, and a nationwide WiMAX network is underway — now what? Now is a great time to be thinking about the target audience and killer apps for WiMAX.
Regarding the target audience, there are two categories to consider: 1. those customers who already have cable, DSL, or T1 connections and want to improve their bandwidth 50- to 100-fold and/or reduce their monthly lease costs, and 2. those who are currently out of reach of DSL, cable, or other broadband connectivity to the Internet.
According to Jay Malin, VP of business development at IMS (IP multimedia subsystem) vendor CableMatrix, “We’re currently working with a WISP in Canada to replace its existing proprietary wireless infrastructure with WiMAX, which would offer its clients a lower CPE cost plus QoS [quality of service].” The solution is SIP (session initiation protocol)-based and features Emergent Network Solutions’ SBC (session border controller), CableMatrix’ PDF (policy decision function) software, AudioCode’s ATA (analog terminal adapter), and VCom’s VistaMax base station.
Now that we’ve established WiMAX as a viable pipeline, you need to consider what role you’ll play in addition to selling and installing CPE. Specifically, you need to also think about complementary (i.e. bandwidth-intensive) applications. One technology that’s going to be a big deal with WiMAX is VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol). Besides offering a large pipeline (45 Mbps to 75 Mbps), WiMAX is built on an IP backbone and supports QoS, which you already know is key to a successful VoIP deployment.
Even though WiMAX is in the early stages of adoption, now is the time to prepare for deploying it. The first thing you need to do is get to know all the WISPs in your area, find out about their plans to adopt WiMAX, and learn how you can become their go-to VAR for WiMAX deployments. Next, evaluate WiMAX-certified equipment, and ask the vendors to provide benchmark test results on their products. Once you find one or two strong candidates, find out what’s necessary to become certified to resell their products, and find out what kind of channel programs they offer. Finally, check with your VoIP vendors and WISPs about deploying VoIP over a WiMAX network. For example, perhaps there is firmware and/or special configuring necessary to make the hardware and software work together.
You’ve no doubt wondered how you could differentiate yourself from other wireless and VoIP VARs. By acting now and taking the necessary steps to offer VoIP over WiMAX, you’ll be on your way to realizing this goal.