back to article WiMAX? 'Dead with no known users': Linux tips code in the recycle bin

Greg Kroah-Hartman, responsible for maintaining the stable branch of the Linux kernel, has nudged WiMAX a little nearer the precipice with a commit to Linux staging to strip the technology from the operating system. WiMAX has been on life-support in the Linux world for a while now and Kroah-Hartman's assessment was blunt: "the …

  1. Mage Silver badge
    Boffin

    4G?

    Wimax, Flarion Flash OFDMA (bought and buried by Qualcomm for the 4G IP) as well as LTE were all "4G" back in 2007 etc.

    It was obvious by 2009 that WiMax and Flash OFDMA were doomed. One Irish Wireless ISP switched to WiMax and it was just as poor as the earlier system because they used indoor modems with built in aerials at 3.5 GHz. To save on outdoor installations. Motorola Networks did the base stations.Then Motorola Networks were bought by Nokia Networks who had no interest in WiMax, nor had anyone else by then. Google bought the Moto Mobile Phone business for the IP, and Lenovo does the handsets. I think some Dell laptops had WiMax. Pointless.

    Actually 5G above 2.6 GHz is about as pointless as 5.8 GHz WiFi or 3.5 GHz WiMax except in an open plan office or a stadium.

    1. JetSetJim Silver badge

      Re: 4G?

      > Then Motorola Networks were bought by Nokia Networks who had no interest in WiMax

      WiMax died in Moto at least a couple of years before Nokia Siemens Networks bought the bits that did it and chucked then on the scrap heap.

  2. Lennart Sorensen

    Well I do know of one company still making and selling Wimax gear, but I believe they run vxworks, not linux on their hardware. Certainly not much life left in wimax at this point.

  3. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Is WiMAX now OpenRAN?

    Network providers were never going to trust Intel on this. Add to that no backwards compatibility, just as the world was standardising on some kind of path from the various UMTS flavours to LTE, which meant a big risk on a completely different stack including handsets, that only outsiders like Sprint (already running the completely incompatible iDEN stack) would be prepared to take.

    But I think (could be very wrong though) that some of the ideas in WiMAX have made it into OpenRAN, though it will take a few years before we will see this at scale.

    1. Youngone Silver badge

      Re: Is WiMAX now OpenRAN?

      I always blamed the network operators for killing WiMAX, due to stupid pricing.

      I was shown indicative pricing by my ISP at the time, and they got really huffy when I laughed and told them they were dreaming.

      I can't remember the exact details, but the pricing was super complex, and I think it would have cost something like $200 per month per user.

      Anyway, I'm sure all of their customers told them to shove it because they never rolled out more that a very limited test network as far as I can remember.

      1. DS999

        Re: Is WiMAX now OpenRAN?

        No, WiMax died because it was originally designed as a non/second standard 4G competitor to LTE. After all the hassle of different versions of 2G and 3G, thankfully everyone agreed that we don't need competing 4G standards.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Is WiMAX now OpenRAN?

        As someone who looked after around 30 sites across different companies using WiMax, predominantly in African countries, reliability killed WiMAX.

        It should have been a high-speed competitor to xDSL/mobile data but the reality was it was unreliable and prone to weather (rain/snow/dust) and while xDSL/mobile were far from perfect, we ended up having to use them as backup circuits for most sites with WiMAX contracts until we could get out of the WiMAX contract.

        Expensive/unreliable and after the initial enthusiasm for an alternative WAN transport, reality hit hard.

        Intel wanted to push WiMAX on the client side as an alternative to wifi/mobile but it fortunately died their too.

  4. mevets Bronze badge

    Not to pick on intel....

    It would be nice to see a scoreboard on the tech adopted / promoted by the big tech firms, with adoption rates, peak use, etc... Especially to line up against the great prognosticators of next tech's predictions.

    1. FatGerman

      Re: Not to pick on intel....

      Let's not forget that Microsoft promoted Bluetooth, not WiFi, as a LAN standard, back in the day....

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge
        WTF?

        Re: Not to pick on intel....

        What? With their Bluetooth stack? I think it only barely became usable with Windows 8 and it still manages to fail to connect automatically every so often.

      2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Not to pick on intel....

        As a protocol, Bluetooth has a lot more going for it than WiFi and I think modern iterations combine the two with Bluetooth acting as the necessary control channel that someone forgot to include in WiFi way back when…

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Not to pick on intel....

      Wot? You mean some kind of scoreboard against which the predictions from Gartner, et al. can be measured? I think you'll find that that's illegal. ;-)

      You invariably have a mix of individual developments and consortia. It's possible to see LTE as a vindication for the GSMA consortium, which brought operators and developers together, and WiFI as a "first to market" approach that got standardised and fixed later. First to market invariably ends up as a tax on the consumer due to the costs of interoperability.

  5. My other car WAS an IAV Stryker Bronze badge
    FAIL

    A small town in Minnesota

    ...attempted to create "municipal broadband" using WiMAX, one transmitter of which was located on top of a recently-built water tower, which was on the opposite side of the small lake my parents live on.

    Previously said parental units had dial-up, usually courtesy of my brother or I's accounts through local-ish Major State Public University. But after we all left, they decided to go the high-speed route and neither cable nor standard telco had decent offerings in their neighborhood [1].

    Due to a direct sight-line across the lake, they thought they had a great solution (the closest base in the other direction was up a hill with a grove of tall pine trees in the way).

    It. Plain. Sucked.

    The signal was weak from Day 1, and the transceiver flaky. The city IT kept blaming my parents computer, FINALLY upgrading their equipment after years of issues and sending a tech with tools to find just the right spot in their home office (spare bedroom) to mount/orient the antenna.

    They might have been the first/last/only customers (as far as I know) right up to the point when the city pulled the plug. By then the local telco finally upgraded things well enough for a DSL-like connection that was worth the price.

    Wasted time, wasted money, lots of frustration. No tears shed for the passing of WiMAX.

    [1] Their "neighborhood" is an old section of a state highway that ran close to said lake and was bypassed long ago but only annexed into the city proper within my lifetime; the wiring infrastructure is older than me and they are almost 2 miles from "downtown".

    (If my brother visits these forums, he can feel free to correct anything I remembered wrong, because most of it is secondhand hearsay from "the folks".)

  6. whoseyourdaddy

    LTE worked while in motion, WiMax didn't. Does anything else matter?

  7. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

    I remember all the hype

    At the time I didn't understand exactly what the tech was for, but there was something about the extreme level of hype that had me thinking there wasn't likely to be much under the bonnet. And then they stopped talking about it and I never even noticed!

  8. james 68

    Umm..

    "Nobody uses wimax!"

    Seems like they failed to check countries outside of the US/UK, Wimax is all over Japan, from trains to convenience stores. Admittedly bog standard WiFi can also be found at these locations, but the locals often prefer Wimax because they get a better connection.

    1. Jos V

      Re: Umm..

      In Japan it's now WiMAX 2+, at least for Asahi.

      S. Korea used to be big on WiMAX as well, but they dumped it at the end of 2018 and is now all LTE.

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Umm..

      But what do the phones use in Japan? Historically, Japan was able to design, manufacture and run its own standards but started IIRC to adopt GSM stuff in the early 2000s. Korea was one of the few countries to use US technology but also switched to GSM stuff in order to compete globally, including in China.

      By using free but limited spectrum, WiFi suffers from the "tragedy of the commons" and will always suffer in direct comparison with anything that can avoid much of the contention by using licensed, and therefore, restricted spectrum.

      China already owns much of the IP in 5G and is likely to dictate whatever 6G might be.

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