back to article WiMAX has 'failed miserably'

Australian wireless carrier Buzz Broadband has shuttered its WiMAX network, describing the technology as a "disaster" that has "failed miserably". Speaking at an international WiMAX conference in Bangkok, Garth Freeman, CEO of Buzz, claimed the technology didn't work indoors more than 2Km from the base station and had latency …

COMMENTS

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  1. Schultz Silver badge
    Boffin

    problematic

    "but radio frequency physics remain problematic"

    Bummer, they should work on that!

  2. cor
    Paris Hilton

    I know it defeats the purpose a bit...

    ..but why not stick an antenna *outside* the receiving building and reproduce the signal inside? Worked for years with TVs...

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "radio frequency physics"

    Radio frequency physics doesn't account for latencies of 1s.

    What might account for excessive latencies might be things like using a DSL network for backhaul from the base stations, especially if they were "brave" enough to attempt it with a national ISP's network. No idea if that's what was happening here, but heck, some 3G companies are using DSL for backhaul (or talking about it) [1]. Try that with your favourite VoIP client .. and .. see .. how .. well .. it .. works.

    Even so, and even with the world's worst VoIP codecs, 1s latency seems a bit excessive.

    Stuff should generally be used for the stuff it was designed for. E.g. voice calls go over voice networks (wired or wireless), unless you're makiing enough simultaneously to need to invest in proper quality bandwidth for VoIP (which doesn't mean residential-class DSL).

    [1] http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/01/16/adsl_backhaul/

  4. Lance

    @Anonymous Coward

    Using "DSL" lines has been used for years by carriers. Ever heard of a T1? They run those over "DSL" and it is not what you think. The Internet has nothing to do with it. You can have P2P DSL lines.

    The carriers like the DSL T1 lines because they only use one pair instead of two. Copper is expensive the DSL T1 lines also allow them to troubleshoot the remote end and get more information about line quality.

    Oh, 3G also has more latency than EDGE/GPRS.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Cor

    That's the approach used by Reliance in India. Stick an antenna outside your house/apartment, which is fed into a modem+router. Kind of reduces your mobility, but if you can get a reliable connection with less contention (depending on what your ISP is offering you), then why not?

  6. Big Pete
    Paris Hilton

    You might like to read

    This http://forums.whirlpool.net.au/forum-replies.cfm?t=943390 from an ISP that knows what it's doing.

    Paris, because she knows what she's doing.

  7. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
    Flame

    What a load of crock...

    Look, WiMax is WiMax. You understand the technology and its shortcomings. So you use it where you know that you don't have the shortcomings.

    The promise of WiMax is broadband speeds without the wires.

    So you set up your WiMax antenna by the window or outdoors (depending on the antenna) and you the have your hub/switch/wireless intranet access point to your network.

    Does this limit the applications? Maybe. But if the price is right, its a lot easier to set up than the last mile of cable, and dealing with some of the local telcos who promise one thing, but fail to deliver.

    If you want VoIP, then sure maybe WiMax isn't what you want. But if you need a T1 for an office internet connection... maybe it is. We won't know until you do a price comparison. Also, if you are changing locations... You can always move the equipment. You can't do that easily with a T1.

    No?

    The flame because articles on the failings of a technology when its misused is not a good thing.

  8. Dave Watts
    Coat

    @cor

    And if reception still isn't good keep moving the antenna a little closer to the base station... in fact why not run a wire all the way. Just look at it as a wave guide. It's still wireless, just the wireless waves are kind of directed to you personally - very elegant solution actually. Just wait, someone's marketing department will latch on to this idea...

  9. foo_bar_baz
    Unhappy

    Testing

    So they rolled out an entire network only to find it doesn't work?

  10. Robin A. Flood
    Happy

    WiMax is King !

    Mountainous Spain with well-distributed communities has an excellent record on WiMax. My house uses a link perhaps 15 kms from the base station; I have a square microwave directional antenna on the roof and a four pair cable ethernet connection from that to my PC. The only time the link goes down is during extreme weather conditions such as torrential rain. I would not change it for the world and especially would not replace it with a broadband connection via the hopeless Telefonica phone company.

  11. CaptainSensible

    Airspan could have helped

    Looks to me like Airspan has to take at least 50% of the blame for this failure. Why weren't Airspan's customer service intimately involved with rolling out this service? This is complicated stuff especially to new customers. Why didn't Airpsan demonstrate to the Buzz Broadband how it would not fulfil their needs on latency and coverage. Why sell them equipment knowing their network would not work. Surely this bad press will cost Airspan more than they gained from the contract with Buzz Broadband. I think Airspan is at least equally culpable for this failure anmd they should look at their head of customer services or whoever is responsible for assisting customers with rollout of service.

  12. Tim Bates
    Thumb Down

    So let me get this....

    One company that didn't do things right to start with is reason to say WiMax is useless?

    Yeah right.

    Now if OPEL's rollout winds up flaky and useless then I'll conclude that, but until 2009 we won't know.

  13. Mage Silver badge
    Boffin

    3.5GHz

    There isn't any technology that will do decent indoor coverage at 3.5Ghz. Just compare how much worse 2.1Ghz 3G is indoor than 900MHz GSM. A basestsion on 3.5GHz that gives 15km range on chimney aerial is unlikely to do even 2km indoor, unless your room has a big window with LOS to mast.

    It's the frequency & expectation that is wrong. I'd not be surprised if Airspan did warn Buzz, but people hear what they want to hear.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Alert

    HAHA

    'Customer' opted to go with the less-expensive 'None working' version of our product.

    HAHA HAAHA whos the real fool here...

    clue: its the one employing the salesperson!

  15. Robin A. Flood
    Happy

    More on WiMax is King

    Incidently I do frequent runs to see what speed I'm getting from Iberbanda S.A., my Spanish provider. I only signed up for 512Kb (WiMax in Spain is more expensive than via Telefonica's phone lines so I took the lowest speed to save money) but I consistantly get over 500Kb both up and downlink.

    My friends on Telefonica's broadband-over-telephone wires who have signed up for a 1Mg connection ran the same test and found on average they were getting 300Kb up and 600Kb down. Their perception of my 512Kb connection is that it's faster than their 1Mg connection. Kind of obvious......

  16. David Shaw
    Boffin

    WiMax works

    well, at present it seems to do so in Italy, <http://www.ngi.it/eolo/bts.asp>

    the root address at www.eolo.it (only in Italian, sorry) explains how you can get up to 12megs via an external 5GHz antenna. My friends use the 2 meg service and only complain that their 600 euros per year unlimited data contact has to be paid up-front when signing the contract. Of course this almost WiMax wouldn't be needed if T*l*com It*lia would actually deliver DSL to non-metropolitan customers.

    in keeping with El'Reg's excellent technical hive knowledge I will reveal that the Eolo network uses about 8500 client Alvarion BreezeACCESS VL LOS/NLOS dishes with wideband OFDM at 5,4-5,7 GHz point to point to 62 usually mountain-top Motorola BTS with fibre connectivity at 10Gbit/s to the NGI backbone via Cisco 12410 routers with 4Gbit/s to the Internet. All allegedly independent of Telecom Italia.

    for those who like Antenna Pr0n, try <http://www.ngi.it/eolo/fotogallery/images/bts_campodeifiori/3.JPG>

    1.JPG, 2.JPG & 4.JPG for images of Italian pre-alps, lakes and yes, Antennas!

  17. John Polivka

    WiMAX contrast

    Buzz Broadband used 3.5GHz spectrum for a Fixed WiMAX service which requires line-of-sight, while Sprint will use 2.5 GHz spectrum for a Mobile WiMAX service which does not require LOS and also penetrates buildings better. Airspan also separately issed a rebuttal on the situation.

  18. Trog

    Latency

    Lance wrote "Oh, 3G also has more latency than EDGE/GPRS"

    Not true. GPRS is about 700ms round-trip ping times, Rel99 3G about 200ms, and HSDPA about 130ms. Try it by pinging a server if you don't believe me.

    There is a difference in their cold-start peformance - 3G escalates the connection speed through a number of steps each time upgrading the mode and bandwidth. These transitions can take a 1 or 2 seconds to complete - and so for a small amount of data such as a very simple webpage GPRS can beat 3G - but it quickly loses this advantage once the download exceeds a few tens of kilobytes.

    Very surprised to learn Buzz's WiMax had a latency of ~1second. Sounds like a problem specific to their network (congestion, overloaded equipment?) unless others can confirm this is generally true for Wimax?

  19. Neil Alexander
    Coat

    @ "Oh, 3G also has more latency than EDGE/GPRS."

    I just experimented with ping times on both 3G and EDGE connections.

    Huawei 3.6mbps 3G USB modem on the 3 network (the software claims 2 of 4 available signal bars) had ping times to 66.249.91.99 (a Google IP address) at 134ms, 134ms, 133ms and 133ms. A HTC device using USB internet sharing on the O2 EDGE network (the phone claims 4 of 4 available signal bars) had ping times of 886ms, 675ms, 832ms and 730ms.

    I don't know what explanation there is for that, be it technological differences, backhaul or what, but that's a pretty marked difference.

  20. Andrew Somerville
    Stop

    The network in Italy may work, but it ain't WiMAX

    "Alvarion BreezeACCESS VL" is a product that uses a modified Wi-Fi MAC - there's not a trace of WiMAX in it.

    There is no "5.4-5.7GHz" frequency profile in WiMAX

    What do the "Motorola BTSs" do in this network? They certainly won't talk to Alvarion clients.

    How do they get 10Gbit/s fibre to the top of mountains?

    I'm guessing it's actually an Alvarion access network with Motorola backhaul connections at a few 10s of Mbit/s.

    There is a world of difference technologically between a low density rural network serving clients with external directional antennas and a high density urban network serving clients with low gain antennas usually mounted indoors, although I would say that both have to be executed very effectively to make money.

  21. Alistair
    Boffin

    What its proven good at, and not

    So our friends in Spain and Italy get good results from fixed, outdoor, line-of-sight connections. This is basically the same as proven established microwave link technology, albeit carrying IP network traffic and using a fancy modulation scheme.

    What remains to be seen is whether WiMax works for mobile and in-building coverage.

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