THE TAIWAN BROADBAND SHOW was a little quiet this year without Intel beating the PR drums for it like it did last year. Wimax is finally here as an alternative to both WiFi and 3G, offering both speed and range. But it took quite a while and 3G evolved into 4G, LTE, or 3GPP, which aims to offer WiFi-N speeds at Wimax range only one to two years from now.
So while Wimax is finally available, at least in Taiwan, it doesnt sound like it will be king of the hill for very long. LTE mostly builds on the existing 3G network and existing frequency ranges, making it possible for providers to upgrade their infrastructure instead of replacing it with Wimax. Several sources whispered to us that LTE is doing very well in its current testing phase and will start to be deployed within the 2010-2011 timespan.
To compare, Wifi-N does up to 600Mbps at ~100m range, Wimax can go much further with ~2km range but only does up to 40Mbps. LTE can already do 100Mbps at the same or higher ranges as Wimax and the goal is 1Gbps. A Mobile Gigabit connection, now does that sound nice or what?
The list of sponsors and attendees reads like the who’s who of wireless broadband technology and service providers: Intel, Samsung, Sony Ericcon, Alcatel Lucent, MSI, Asus, Fujitsu, Nokia Siemens Networks Taiwan, China Telecom, Chungwha (Taiwan), FarEaStone (Taiwan), Tatung (Taiwan), AT&T (US), Telefonica (Mexico), Ultra Telecom (Brazil), NTT Docomo (Japan) and other top service providers from Russia, Malaysia, India, The Netherlands, Portugal etc. Unfortunately most big players are all under cover and doing deals behind the scenes.
The announced 300+ booths probably raised a few eyebrows however. Hall3 of the Taiwan World Trade Center is not exactly huge, and we only counted around 60 booths, which is actually backed up by the official show map.
The show floor was dominated by wireless technology companies and service providers showing off their latest components and products. The most common products were laptops and netbooks equipped with Wimax modules. No new models, unfortunately.
Baudtech showed off one of if not the most interesting product at this years show, Wifi-N USB sticks in different shapes and sizes, with and without external antenna. The most interesting version was a slim internal antenna 1T2R USB stick which can send at data rates up to 150Mbps and receive at up to 300Mbps. Not bad at all. And the best part was the price, below $10, which means we will probably see them in retail for around $20-$50.
Ericsson showed off two Intel Atom Morestown prototypes. One came in a rather unusual long shape. I didn’t get any decent shots of it unfortunately, but Lars over at mobile and notebook did. It features a micro HDMI connector, which is quite a surprise on a smartphone.
FarEaStone had a few Commtiva Z1 smartphones running Android at their booth. Lars from mobile and notebook played around with it for a while and posted a review on his site. On top of that FarEaStone had an Inventek-made Wimax enabled E-Book prototype on display. Unfortunately FarEaStone could not give us any information about release date, price, battery life or its content partner. Having Wimax on an e-book is definately overkill, but the e-book itself was quite interesting. It did have a 5-7 second refresh time, which means switching from page to page isn’t exactly fast, and scrolling is basically useless, but this is just a prototype and the final product should work at much higher speeds.
Despite the claimed success and wide coverage of Wimax we have yet to see a single provider promoting its Wimax 4G service here in Taiwan. The overall feeling from this show was that most companies are taking a wait and see approach, most likely because upgrade cycles are rather long and Wimax Release 2 and LTE are estimated to arrive rather soon, both offering notably higher bandwidth.S|A