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The Wireless Event: WiMax players don't understand customer needs

Not enough players involved in the WiMax world really get where customers are coming from, according to an expert working in this technology area for Motorola.

Too few providers of WiMax services understand what their customers really want, an industry figure has claimed.

"You won't hear users saying 'I want WiMax'," said Andy McKinnon, WiMax principal with Motorola, speaking at the Mobile Broadband Congress, held as part of The Wireless Event at London's Olympia this week.

"They are more likely to tell you they want a low cost, easy-to-use broadband service that's reliable and resilient."

The WiMax industry needs to start selling a service rather than a technology, said McKinnon.

"And it's no good selling it on the lowest possible price," he said. "A cost plus model will never work as well for service providers as having a differentiated service.

WiMax has the power to bring economic growth to areas not currently serviced by broadband, said McKinnon. In emerging economies WiMax may well be the only broadband option, he said, but in economies where buyers have a choice it will need to be sold on a range of benefits.

"Service providers must complement voice by adding in a number of other services," he added.

"It's also about mixing technologies on the access side, as no one technology does it all. A mix of Bluetooth, Wi-Fi mesh and WiMax may be required to deliver what users need to get an end-to-end service without interruption."

"Lots of our members are waiting to see what develops on the quality of service side with WiMax," Martin Morey, general secretary of the Mobile Computer Users Group MCUG) told IT PRO at the event.

"I don't really know many organisations that are currently considering it as anything more than a point to point solution at the moment."

He cited utility company Sutton and East Surrey Water as a rare example of an MCUG member talking about blanket WiMax coverage over its region. "A corresponding water company in a rural region does not have that option," he said.

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