Satellite vs WiMAX: why can't they just get along‾

Staff Writer
21 Aug 2007


Satellite and WiMAX may be at loggerheads when it comes to the issue of extended C-band spectrum, but satellite players have more to gain by working with WiMAX operators than fighting them.


Indeed, according to a new report from NSR, satellite-WiMAX 'inter-working' will produce a variety of distinct opportunities, highly dependant on the frequency band in use and regional competitive considerations.


What kind of opportunities are we talking about‾ C-band and Ku-band satellite backhaul in developing regions and remote areas, DBS-WiMAX triple play retail bundles in mature satellite TV markets, lower CAPEX and installation cost per-broadband user in rural areas via tighter satellite-WiMAX integration at the VSAT, and a satellite derivative of mobile WiMAX potentially applied to hybrid satellite-wireless handsets utilizing the valuable Ancillary Terrestrial Component (ATC) spectrum.


WiMAX momentum and high-growth expectations will prompt satellite players to leverage the distance indifference and quick deployment characteristics of satellite services to opportunistically address supply-demand disruptions in backhaul bandwidth requirements, NSR says.


Two-tier satellite-WiMAX backhaul also presents leapfrog advantages in developing regions and remote areas that lack terrestrial broadband infrastructure.


Still, none of this is meant to downplay the issue of spectrum interference in the C-band, NSR says - specifically at 3.5 GHz, where many WiMAX licensee hopefuls are hoping to operate. By most accounts, satellite and WiMAX simply cannot co-exist in extended C-band, and satellite operators argue that, unlike WiMAX, they have nowhere else to go in the spectrum band.


Future ITU meetings will provide more guidance on this issue, but NSR says the path forward to a "win-win" outcome for both satellite and WiMAX players is not yet entirely clear.


NSR president Christopher Baugh adds that the WiMAX play and the role for satellites will be largely shaped by heated triple play and quad-play battles that aim at horizontally integrating service offerings.


'WiMAX is a newcomer to the triple-play game, and cross-platform complementary offerings such as DBS-WiMAX bundles will continue taking place' Baugh said. 'These deals will facilitate the introduction of triple and quad-play services in an increasingly technology-agnostic way."

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