It seems that Imagine isn’t the only company eying a wide scale WiMAX rollout in Ireland as one of the ways to easily supply wide-scale internet to a country whose population is, by and large, quite thinly spread.
Indeed, according to SiliconRepublic it seems that the Telocommunications and Internet Federation [TIF] is on board with plans for a WiMAX rollout, citing the fact that the wireless standard facilitates relatively high-speed internet connections across large areas, whether urban or rural. It’s an interesting point, and it’s certainly true that a wide scale WiMAX rollout would cost significantly less than trailing cable across the countryside, but just how well it works out remains to be seen.
Indeed, it seems that even the relatively optimistic folks at TIF are realistic about just what WiMAX can and can’t provide, saying initially that, “At present, WiMAX can provide broadband speeds of 2Mbps up to 8Mbps, a high quality service is available on mobile, portable and fixed-end user equipment,” but, importantly enough, continuing to say that,
“However, it must be noted that fibre, cable and satellite will be necessary where larger bandwidth or greater distances are required.”
If nothing else, we’ll be curious to see just how well that side of things is managed. It’s certainly true that there are situations in which WiMAX, and little else, has been used to provide blanket coverage of a wide area without a massive amount of extra infrastructure (parts of rural South Korea being among the most prominent examples. In those cases though, the connections established by means of daisy-chaining WiMAX to the nearest city are relatively slow, and it seems unlikely that that’s on the cards for Ireland.
All that aside, it’s at least pleasant to hear that there are plans for a more widespread WiMAX push in Ireland, even if the results some people have been getting with WiMAX services in Dublin have been less than stellar. The fact is that it seems as though WiMAX will function quite well as an alternative for those in areas where there just isn’t the geography to allow wired broadband, as opposed to an alternative service in those areas where wired services are available already.
For now, we’re just curious to see how well WiMAX is received in regions where more standard broadband is either slow or unavailable. It seems that those are the situations in which it would be most valuable. We’ll also be interested to see how well the WiMAX rollout works for the folks at Intel, which has essentially part-sponsored the rollout of WiMAX in Ireland.