The conversion from TV broadcast to TV broadband is getting closer with the advent of WiMax--the next generation of mobile broadband--which is coming to the U.S. this fall. Increasingly, electromagnetic frequencies are being used not to transmit TV signals, but broadband services such as Wi-Fi and WiMax. By merging wireless cellular technology with a landline's high-speed broadband technology, the television industry is now able to offer TV service any time, anywhere, with any video device, whether it be a TV set, a computer or a phone.
WiMax is often called "Wi-Fi on steroids." While Wi-Fi is a short-range system that uses unlicensed spectrum. WiMax is long-range, covers many kilometers, and uses licensed spectrum from the FCC, the U.S. telecommunications authority. That can make your laptop, your phone or any other device with an Internet connection work in your car while traveling at 60 mp/h (96.56 km/h).
In spite of the deluge of press releases from wireless carriers over the last few years, the present third-generation (3G) network is still like "sipping through a straw," said Tim Sweeney, director of Mobile WiMax at Intel, referring to the fact that 3G systems are still too slow when it comes to transporting data. "Consumers should not have to distinguish between mobile Internet and [traditional] Internet." Intel, together with Motorola, literally drove that point home this year at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The press was regaled with YouTube clips in a car, delivered via WiMax, while driving at 45mp/h (72.42 km/h). "More powerful microprocessors and high-speed WiMax wireless networks will bring a new era of the full Internet on mobile devices," he said.
U.S. telephone giant Sprint Nextel plans to allocate 200 Megahertz of wireless spectrum toward a nationwide WiMax joint venture with Clearwire (a Washington state-based provider of high-speed wireless Internet) that values the entity at $15 billion. Sprint has 51 percent ownership, Clearwire has 27 percent, and Intel, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks and Google hold the rest. Brian Roberts, CEO of Comcast, cited his experience watching a broadband-delivered video clip at 50 mp/h (80.47 km/h) in Portland as a reason for choosing to invest.
The initial launch will be in Baltimore in September, followed by Chicago and Washington, D.C. According to Barry Davis, executive director of Product Planning at Clearwire, "Next year the...