Who"s davidlian?

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davidlian is an ultra-geeky chinese dude that works for a technology PR agency. He loves fiddling with techno-toys, plays Warhammer 40K, and shoots pictures wherever he goes. Here, he rants about PR, Technology and anything else. Don't expect balance and un-biased, he ain't no journalist. Anything said on this blog are solely davidlian's personal views. Don't confuse them with company mantra, client's views or views of any organisation he may be part of.


Friday, July 18, 2008

This WiMAX thing... and the quest for broad(er) band

Unless you've been hiding under a rock somewhere, you're probably sick of hearing about WiMAX for these past 2 years. Indeed, the initial euphoria seemed to have died sometime mid-last year.

Yet, shouldn't we get excited again as we stand on the cusp of a WiMAX launch very, very soon?

Well, I was at a briefing recently by one of the WiMAX licensees (I've been asked not to reveal the company name, but it should be Pretty Obvious since they get coverage in the media almost every week) and hearing the WiMAX plans does make me excited to a certain extent.

Mainly because, if everything goes according to plan, we'll have a viable alternative to TMNet's Streamyx. If not, we'll get this.

Here's a run-down of facts I heard and saw (on the presentation):

  1. The WiMAX provider will not compete in the mobile space (as in mobile internet like 3G) but be based off a box and targeted at home connections - a la Streamyx.
  2. Speeds and packages will vary from 400 kbps to 2 Mbps. These are theoretical maximum speeds and actual usage experience may vary, but the company says it will do better than Streamyx in making sure you actually get performance that's very close to the package you bought.
  3. There will be a one time installation charge (or not, if you don't need technical help to setup the box) and monthly subscription with a contract minimum of two years. No details on pricing were revealed except that it's "very competitive" to what's on the market. My guess is anywhere from RM 68 to RM 120.
  4. There will be a return policy (i.e. "guarantee"). If you don't like it, you'll get to return the box within 45 14 days and cancel the subscription. You lose an RM50 processing fee because of the now "used" status of your box. Refunds should be disbursed within 45 days. Here's hoping this policy doesn't land the provider into trouble like Izzi.
  5. There will be a "Fair Usage" policy - (i.e. manipulation of bandwidth) - to ensure everyone gets a fair amount of usage and an equal usage experience. This kind of throttling has never been admitted by Streamyx although many people have suspected its happening. This provider gave a very specific account of the policy. Packet shaping won't happen until a user has exceeded 30GB worth of traffic, so I guess it's pretty reasonable. However, the other issue altogether is the fact that many companies (yes, including Streamyx) advertise "unlimited" access whereas in the US, throttling is actually seen as "limiting" access. So, whether it's credible for any ISP (Internet Service Provider) to say they offer "unlimited" access really depends on what you consider "unlimited". For more info on this issue, read this.
  6. Will signals deteriorate if it rains? The answer was "well, it should have some effect, but testing shows that bandwidth did not go down. Not by much."
So, will WiMAX be your life-saver? Well, I'm actually for it as any alternative to Streamyx is a good thing. Yet, with WiMAX services now only being rolled out, and with the strategy being to make it a home based service, I have my doubts as to whether any wireless-based technology will be adequate in the near future for home broadband access.

What I'm saying is that already around the corner is Fibre To The Home service which will net us at least 10 Mbps in speed (yes, now we know what those Japanese people are enjoying). On the very high end, you'll get 100 Mbps even. In fact, this should be the news story as the government is investing heavily into ensuring we get fibre-optic services by 2010. Don't forget LTE (the next step from 3G / UMTS) for the mobile too.

On this backdrop, it does seem that WiMAX will have to make the most of this two year lead over FTTH to consolidate its position in the home market. More importantly, plans should already be afoot to move WiMAX out of the home market space, to the mobile market as I would think once Fibre comes in, it would be basically no-contest for WiMAX.

But the question ultimately boils down to this - "should I get WiMAX?" The answer is: depends on where you live and if the signal's good enough. Also, how angry has Streamyx made you?


Will said...

WiMax only can defined as another technology that enables another alternative for people!

Bandwidth never enough!

WiMax enables the mobility and its open up the market to solve the monopolized! But WiMax technology still got its limitation and due to wireless is less reliable compare to wired!

At the end optical also will take over the landlines to provide much speedy and reliable connection just like Japan and Hong Kong... How long it will take we have no idea!

Technology is moving forward and one day old technology will be eliminated!

At the end ... Wired and Wireless still serve different markets with different needs!

But ... How long that Malaysia takes to reach that level ya? UNKNOWN

davidlian said...

Agreed that Wireless and Wired will serve different market needs. But when Wireless technologies try to sell to the 'Internet at Home' market, which is where Wired technologies excel, then I think the business plan needs review. However, for Pretty Obvious' case, I think entering the 'Internet at Home' market at this time is opportune, given that it has a weak incumbent and plenty of customers looking to switch. However, it also needs to plan to move out of relying on this market before the newer FTTH and VDSL technologies come into play in two years time! Because I think customers will switch back just as quickly!

Paul Tan said...

what? home setup? we already have plenty of that rubbish! bleh! nothing seems to work here properly... sadly streamyx is still the best, of the worst.

davidlian said...

@paul: Yeaps...I'll probably stick to Streamyx till some other wired solution comes along. FTTH?