Not yet widely deployed, and already there are those who are complaining about the performance of the technology. After looking at the figures, and reading an article on BetaNews, I wonder why, once again, it seems that no one seems to be remembering what the basic technology is.

It’s radio. Electromagnetic radiation, out in the open. With full possibilities of interference from many things.

In the midst of my own Comcast outage today, I began to contemplate the alternatives to my current cable Internet connection and the satisfaction of customers elsewhere. Being a Baltimore native, I’m fortunate enough to have a number of options at my disposal, including WiMAX. It’s a technology that I’ve frequently covered here at Betanews, and one which we’ve been following for a long time.

For a little while, we had a WiMAX connection in our headquarters and I was using it without even being aware of a difference. I probably wouldn’t have even found out if Nate hadn’t asked me what wireless network I was connected to one day and informed me that it was actually our Sprint/Xohm WiMAX test line.

Unfortunately, WiMAX users in the rest of the US are acutely aware of their connection, DSLReports noted this week. Sprint’s joint WiMAX partner Clearwire has launched networks in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Georgia, Nevada, and Texas; and users from each of these areas has expressed disappointment on DSLReports’ forums.

Even though we’d get a consistent 2 Mbps downstream signal from our Baltimore WiMAX network, A number of Clearwire users are reporting much lower speeds and much more inconsistent coverage.

The story includes several windows of reported speeds from DSL Reports, showing a wide variance in continuous and top speeds.

As with anything that uses the radio spectrum, results are very uneven, so one person might get terrific results, while the next door neighbor, less than 25 feet away, might get insanely bad performance, though everything would indicate similar results. It’s called the vagaries of reception.

But I really think it is a problem with the sales of things today. Overselling and under-delivering is rampant. People are given a ‘bill of goods’, and many are disappointed because they believe in the hype.

The most recent other oversell was digital television. Sure, it was not the catastrophe that many said it would be; it was the not the first season of the apocalypse. However, there is not a day that goes by where I don’t have a period of frequent interruptions, and I am not alone. People at the distance I am at suffer from problems with picture losses due to the changes in the inversion layer in the morning, and at night. People at much closer distances are bothered by things like these same losses, but caused by multipath, though they have much stronger signal levels. These problems are bound to be seen by the users of WiMAX in large cities, where it is currently being deployed. Also, the pending user should not put to much faith into things that the developers will bring up, like echo cancellation. The simple fact is, there are too many factors that cannot be precisely dealt with in every situation. It is digital transmission, with all its ugly warts.

Digital transmission is not a panacea, and anyone who tells you it is, is a liar. So whether you are trying to get television reception, or data through the air, you are in for some periodic disappointments.


floating_rock -philosophy just another source of interference periodically – our friend, the Sun.

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