WiMax isn't dead, but the collapse of the world's highest profile WiMax partnership certainly didn't help its image in 2007. Sprint and Clearwire teamed up in July to cover the US with WiMax, and split up in November, leaving Sprint increasingly struggling to justify its commitment to WiMax.
WiMax originally had a market lead over the 3GPP's LTE proposals, but WiMax delays are eroding that, and LTE demonstrations are looking impressive. But WiMax wasn’t the only wireless failure in 2007. Here’s our pick of the biggest disappointments of the year.
Muni Wi-Fi - the bubble bursts, or does it?
In 2007, it seems everyone suddenly decided it didn't make sense for the public sector to subsidise mediocre Wi-Fi for users, and US projects floundered or failed. "At best, it's wireless for bus shelters and traffic wardens," says Dean Bubley of Disruptive Analysis. "At worst, it's a negligent waste of taxpayers' money by bored local government IT drones seduced by glossy marketing BS about 'digital inclusion'."
But there still seems to be credible opinion that good things are coming out of it all, even at Philadelphia, the flagship muni Wi-Fi city, and the one to get hit hardest by the backlash. To pick over all the pieces, start at Wi-Fi Net News.
Ultrawideband hits the trough
It was supposed to be the ultimate short-range wireless link, and both USB and Bluetooth opted for ultrawideband, a radical technology that sends signals using a very wide spectrum at very low power.
Now there are reports that early products are still poor, and it's suffered serious humiliation - the Bluetooth SIG is also using its rival, Wi-Fi for fast links.
Nortel splits with Trapeze
In July, Nortel announced it would no longer be selling Trapeze's Wi-Fi LAN products - effective sometime in 2008. At this stage of the wireless LAN game, only specialist players make their own kit, and Nortel has been happily selling Trapeze kit. This announcement must have effectively put a stop to that - without actually producing anything in its place, except a vague plan to build its own equipment in 2008. Stunningly incompetent.
xG - still nearly there
xG, the controversial start-up that no longer publicly promises its xMax technology will break the laws of physics (but still promises unbelievable price performance) had its promised commercial launch in November - but it was a launch so ‘soft’ that only the company's friends and family can get xMax phones.