Australian WiMax Pioneer Calls It a Disaster

A recent Slashdot discussion on Wimax:

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"Garth Freeman, CEO of Australia's first WiMax operator, sat down at the recent International WiMax Conference in Bangkok and unleashed a tirade about the failings of the technology, leaving an otherwise pro-WiMax audience stunned. His company, Buzz Broadband, had deployed a WiMax network over a year ago, and Freeman left no doubt about what conclusions he had drawn. He claimed that 'its non-line of sight performance was "non-existent" beyond just 2 kilometres from the base station, indoor performance decayed at just 400m and that latency rates reached as high as 1000 milliseconds. Poor latency and jitter made it unacceptable for many Internet applications and specifically VoIP, which Buzz has employed as the main selling point to induce people to shed their use of incumbent services.'


I though it is especially relevant here, as Wateen seems to be suffering from a lot of issues. Still, from what I've heard from people in the industry, the problem with Wimax in Pakistan is not the Wimax network, but the people running it.

These issues may just be confined to Buzz Broadband's network. A lot of big companies are throwing weight behind WiMAX including Intel. I doubt they'd do that without looking at the performance details.

hehe. Wateen is lucky to have a good setup, however, it's very unfortunate they lack the know-how of running an ISP, or a business for that matter, efficiently.

althought im not AT ALL a fan of yateem but..

1. their service seems to work even in city suburbs where there might not be any broadband service.

2. their latency seems to be WELL BELOW 1000ms (if i remember correctly someone mentioned it to be below 350~400ms)



I concur w/ maliksaab. Well said, in a few words. 1000ms is like crazy! Even dialup isn't that slow.

Do remember that we're talking Australia here... and the ping depends on 1) your connection speed at that time, and 2) the geographical separation.

I know South Africa (like the rest of Africa) has higher latency rates than Pakistan, and connecting to a site in Australia is slower than connecting to a site in the US or the UK, for that matter.

I think a request for Australia gets routed all the way to europe and then back to the aussies since i think all our undersea cables end in stations in europe

O.K i don't know much about wireless networks (not that i know other networks) but can't they just built tall towers to increase line of sight? anyone?

^ Taller towers cost money... a lot of it. Tower height might not be the only reason for line of sight losses.

Not to mention what an eye-sore tall towers mushrooming all over the place would be...

WiMAX body slam met with pile driver from its many backers

By Eric Bangeman | Published: March 24, 2008 - 09:15PM CT

Over the weekend, a story surfaced about an Australian WiMAX operator that had massive problems with WiMAX. Buzz Broadband ultimately shut down its network after a year of operation, with the company's CEO calling it a "disaster" that "failed miserably" during remarks made at a WiMAX conference in Bangkok last week. The timing of the remarks is inopportune for Sprint, which is currently testing its Xohm WiMAX network in advance of its public launch in the next couple of months, but the technology's backers see Buzz's experience as an anomaly and predict a bright future for WiMAX.

Buzz Broadband began rolling out its WiMAX service last year and quickly began running into trouble with it, according the company's CEO, Garth Freeman. In his remarks to conference attendees, he faulted WiMAX for a number of deficiencies he said his company had experienced. Subscribers reportedly suffered from latencies of 1,000ms and higher, indoor performance was problematic at distances of over 400m, and, without clear line of sight, the signal dropped at distances of over 2km from the base station.

The fact that a single vendor has had problems with WiMAX isn't that surprising to Miguel Myhrer, a senior executive in Accenture's North American wireless network practice. "WiMAX will have spectacular failures going forward, and if it doesn't, I'd be surprised," Myhrer told Ars. But that's par for the course for any new wireless technology, he argues. "CDMA had problems in Korea when it was first deployed, but it's now [an established], problem-free technology."

Nortel, which is one of the major manufacturers of WiMAX chips, is unfazed by Buzz's experience. "Nortel continues to see strong opportunities for WiMAX," a company spokesperson told Ars. "In particular, WiMAX is an ideal technology that addresses the needs of today's underserved communities bringing high-speed wireless Internet to fixed and mobile subscribers, some of whom have never before had any sort of network connection available to them."

Testing WiMAX speed on the Chicago River last fall

In the US, that's where Sprint comes in. Its $5 billion-plus Xohm WiMAX network has already seen a soft launch, with the company and selected partners stress testing it in advance of its public debut later this spring. When asked about Buzz's WiMAX ills, a company spokesperson pointed Ars to comments from an analyst at Yankee Group. "We do not believe Buzz's failure in WiMAX implies the failure of WiMAX itself," Yankee Group VP of Asia-Pacific Research X.J. Wang told WiMAX trends.

Sprint believes that the problems encountered by Buzz Broadband are specific to that company and its choice of vendors. The wireless provider points to the example of WiBro's successful WiMAX deployment in Korea as evidence that WiMAX has a bright future in front of it.

Buzz Broadband's problems are indicative of the challenges that new technologies face as they are rolled out, rather than of a fatal flaw in the WiMAX spec. "[WiMAX] won't work as advertised on day one, but over time it will," Myhrer told Ars. It's important for Sprint to get Xohm's launch right, Myhrer believes, but the ultimate indicator of WiMAX's success will come in the "BRIC countries" (Brazil, Russia, India, and China). "If Sprint deploys WiMAX successfully, but those countries don't, it will ultimately be a niche technology," said Myhrer.

There are two other bits of data to note here. First, Buzz Broadband uses the fixed version of WiMAX, which is heavily reliant on line-of-sight. A Sprint spokesperson highlighted that as an important distinction between Buzz and Xohm, which uses the mobile flavor (Ars attended a demo of mobile WiMAX during a Chicago River cruise last year). Also, Buzz operates in the 3.5GHz spectrum, which doesn't propagate as well indoors. In contrast, Sprint and Clearwire are using 2.5GHz spectrum for their Mobile WiMAX, which will penetrate better indoors. The takeaway? Despite the problems Buzz has had in Australia, WiMAX's future—and present—still look bright.


I think 3G is much better then Wimax in Pakistan.

It's disappointing when Pakistan isn't mentioned any where in the article when Wateen is the first company in the world which did a nation wide roll-out of WiMax in Pakistan.

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It’s disappointing when Pakistan isn’t mentioned any where in the article when Wateen is the first company in the world which did a nation wide roll-out of WiMax in Pakistan.

Totally agree with you!

kia china k equipment lagaye thay Buzz broadband nay ..hahahah

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kia china k equipment lagaye thay Buzz broadband nay …hahahah

Nahin Kabul ke the =D