WiMax as grassroots telecoms backbone?

March 15th, 2006 | by Andrew Ó Baoill |

Perhaps related to my dialogue with Paul at Mediageek regarding creating a grassroots telecoms backbone, Om Malik draws attention to the potential of WiMax for backbone purposes. He suggests that a WiMax backbone for the United States could be built for $3 bn which is, as he notes, quite a chunk of change. Think of it, though – relative to a wired betwork, that’s a fairly small investment. You are limited, of course, by the standard and technology, so it’s not quite like laying dark fiber, but if you were able to attract 1% of the population (3 million subscribers) onto the network, and write off the costs over 10 years, the cost per subscriber would be around $8.50 per month. Of course, there’s also the last mile costs, peering costs, and operating expenses, but that almost sounds doable to me. A little too high, perhaps, but just outside the desired range. Attracting progressive organizations as customers, who are already paying sizeable sums to for-profit telcos, and it’s slightly more reasonable. Concentrate on rolling out state by state, or in high-density areas, and things may become even more achievable. Peering costs seem to be the main fly in the ointment.

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