The International Telecommunications Union has decided WiMAX should be included in its IMT-2000 protocol, a decision which could enable 4G licensees to deploy the technology into 2.5GHz when the frequency becomes available.
Auctions for 2.5GHz are coming up in several European countries, including Norway in November, to be followed by Sweden and the UK, and the WiMAX Forum had previously argued (at the EU level) that the licenses granted through those auctions should be technology-neutral, as that was the only way their technology would be allowed.
Few EU countries are ready for technology-neutral spectrum licensing yet, though the UK is keen to lead the way. So the forum had to seek an alternative means to make their technology legit, and becoming part of the allowed standard is an excellent way of achieving that.
This does mean that IMT-2000 (International Mobile Telecommunications - 2000) now embraces OFDMA (which includes WiMAX), FDMA, TDMA and CDMA, making it more of a broad church than a tightly defined standard, and if it gets merged with IMT-Advanced in the next few weeks then WiMAX will officially become a 4G technology - able to compete with the others on an equal footing.
This is great news for the WiMAX Forum, and for Intel, who have been pushing the technology very hard as a competitor with ADSL and cable for internet access. But competing with such entrenched technologies won't be easy, and in many markets the window of opportunity for fixed-wireless may well already have passed. ®