Wireless Isn't Always the Answer...

For those of you convinced that WiMAX is going to be a great platform to compete with cable modem and Digital Subscriber Line services, you might want to take another look. ABI Research Senior analyst Ken Hyers says recent conversations with major wireless carriers confirmed that "the presence of as few as five users simultaneously receiving unicast content from a single cellular base station carrier band can seriously degrade data access for those subscribers."

ABI concludes that broadcast is the only way to get mass market uptake of video services because unicast (video on demand) crashed the network.

So ABI predicts mobile broadcasting—as opposed to streaming "unicast" services—will become the model of choice for distribution of live television and movies to mobile devices in the United States, and by the end of 2007 approximately four million subscribers will receive entertainment and information on their wireless handsets via mobile broadcast technologies such as DVB-H and MediaFLO.

Now, one can argue that WiMAX will have so much more bandwidth such limitations can be overcome. At low subscriber penetration rates, perhaps. But some transmission platforms can't handle huge success, as high penetration clogs the network.

As far as unicast services, satellite and cellular are prime examples. So before we all go crazy and conclude that linear formats are toast, remember that unicast ("on demand" video streaming) can quickly crash a network. Multicast has a permanent future.

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