Industry experts have warned that delays to the certification of an agreed industry standard defining WiMax wide area wireless networking equipment could cast "much doubt" on the technology's future.
Analyst firm Ovum said today that the predicted six-month delay to ratification would mean that WiMax products will not now be available before the end of 2005.
While Ovum believes that this would have only a limited impact on the WiMax IEEE 802.16 2004 standard, it added that "further delay would certainly cast much doubt on the technology".
The first version of the standard, which is primarily aimed at fixed broadband access services, was approved last year.
Certification testing, including standard compliance testing and interoperability testing between different suppliers, was originally scheduled to start early this year, with the first products due in mid-2005.
Vincent Poulbere, a senior consultant at Ovum, said: "2005 was thought to be the year of the WiMax launch. Unfortunately, it will now mostly be the year of pre-WiMax.
"Vendors will continue to sell pre-standard products to the few operators having already made a decision to deploy early, but operators waiting for standardised equipment will have to wait, and this will slow the market as a whole."
Poulbere added that, more worryingly, the delay raises questions over the timeframe for ratification of the 802.16e standard, which is designed to support mobility.
"The first commercial products are announced for 2006, and more importantly the first laptops integrating a WiMax chipset from Intel are expected in 2007," he said.
"If 802.16e also gets delayed, it will leave more time for other mobile broadband technologies to gain market share and acceptance."
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