Map of mobile WiMAX service around the world now available

I’ve just posted a map of cities around the world that have mobile WiMAX service. By “mobile” I mean you can connect to the WiMAX network either via a USB dongle or a WiMAX-enabled device (not many of those). You can view the map on: http://www.muniwireless.com/wimax/wimaxmap/

The cities marked in green have an operator that is currently selling the service (for example, WorldMax in Amsterdam has a service called Aerea which charges 6 EUR per day); those in yellow will very soon have service. Yota in St. Petersburg and Moscow is very close to launching. Where I have information, I have indicated on each point the identity of the service provider, the frequency it uses for WiMAX service and the price for service.

I will be adding fixed WiMAX locations soon (note: I have using the phrase “fixed WiMAX” or “fixed wireless” because it’s so ridiculous, as if radio waves could be made to stop and sit still like an obedient dog).

Yota, WiMAX provider in Moscow and St. Petersburg

According to my Russian sources, Yota has been running trials for several months now in these cities and that it is about to go live. Yota announced two weeks ago that they will be selling the HTC GSM WiMAX handset for use on their network. However, some believe that Yota will not be as successful in Moscow and St. Petersburg (as they would in more rural areas) for two reasons: (a) wired broadband service is inexpensive in those cities and (b) once the dispute with the Russian military over 3G frequencies ends and more spectrum is allocated for 3G and 4G use, mobile broadband will be just as fast, cheaper and more ubiquitous.

The pain of finding mobile WiMAX networks

I had no idea it would take so long to assemble a paltry list of cities with mobile WiMAX service. I went to several WiMAX websites to find WiMAX networks and make a selection. The problem is that although many of them indicate that there is a WiMAX network based on 802.16e (“mobile” WiMAX), in reality, you need a stand-alone modem to gain access to the network – not useful for travelers. Most of the sources I used are unreliable: in certain cities they say that the service is live, but when you go to the provider’s site, you discover it’s not.

It took me half a day to cull through dozens of listings of “mobile” WiMAX service providers to come up with this limited list, which is not complete given that new providers will be launching service in the coming months. So think of the map as a movable target.

The reason I undertook the task of mapping all of the cities that have mobile WiMAX is that I want travelers to know where they can buy WiMAX service and therefore avoid expensive data roaming fees (note: several friends mocked my efforts and told me that most people just go to a cafe that has free Wi-Fi to avoid roaming charges).

Anyway, the example I cite for “mobile” WiMAX for travelers is the Aerea service Amsterdam, where you can buy 6 EUR per day WiMAX service. The only restriction is that you need a USB dongle that supports the frequency they use in the Netherlands. Unfortunately as of this writing, they don’t support Macs.

Criticism of my definition of mobile WiMAX

I posted my question of where to find mobile WiMAX in the LinkedIn Q&A section (I’m also experimenting to see if social media is as useful as people claim for things that go beyond Super Poke).

Several people from different countries responded, but nearly everyone took issue with my definition of “mobile”, which I must admit, is a bit slippery. By mobile I mean you only need a USB dongle (don’t need to carry around a modem).

Trond Johannessen writes:

If you include WorldMax, then your definition of mobility is stretched and taken from the pedestrian perspective. I think you need to be very strict in your definitions in order to make sense of the WiMAX landscape and what it is beyond a name. Would you ever buy a mobile GSM or 3GSM service if you could not hop in a car or a train and continue talking? No, I did not think so. Only a few will buy services from a WiMAX operator that are labeled ‘mobile’, unless you can meet the definition applied to mobility in the 2G and 3G mobile communications world. This gets only worse when we look into other features and marketing claims on behalf of WiMAX by well-meaning individuals. If we have dropped calls when we drive at legal maximum speeds (130 km or so) — it is not a mobile service! I am OK with the term “nomadic service” for the quasi-mobility offered by a well engineered 3.5 GHz WiMax deployment. Let us wait for the Q2 2009 licensees in the Netherlands 2.5 GHz auctions to show us mobile WiMAX in the Netherlands. Let’s face it — the certification of WiMAX products for full mobility is not more than just started, the resulting products hardly produced, and so the bulk of deployments of mobile WiMAX is still ahead of us. I go further than the dropped calls criterion at vehicular speeds, and would suggest that national and international roaming, and national coverage are other features of a network that is offering mobility to users. If we are relaxing the criteria for categorizing wireless services, we will never be able to verify where in the evolution of technologies we are, and neither will we be able to differentiate between operators in a meaningful way. Comparisons between technologies, as well as pricing issues will never be fully understood. The acceptance of a technology that claims to belong in the mobile category will suffer if the term ‘mobile’ is abused. The term is in use already and we have millions of users with an idea that is fairly precise about what we intend when using such a term.

The other respondents agreed with Trond’s comments on what we think of as “mobile WiMAX” and how we assess its success or failure.

Without much ado, I leave you with the YouTube video below of Digital Bridge’s BridgeMaxx service in Rexford, Idaho, an example of “mobile” WiMAX (although I am not sure if they have a WiMAX router in the car).

Comments

  1. Mena Telecom just released WiMAX service nationwide in Bahrain. You can check this link http://www.wimaxian.com/2008/11/24/mena-telecom-launched-wimax-network-nationwide-in-bahrain/

  2. mobileWiMAX says

    Yota is mobile, in the sense that its service is based on USB dongles and real handsets…
    So is KT in Korea – I think that the current map needs updating

  3. I don't think KT in Korea is offering WiMAX service. Aren't they on a different standard – WiBro? As for Yota, their WiMAX service is set to launch on November 30. That's why the place marks for St. Petersburg and Moscow are in yellow.

  4. Nexcom has provide WiMAX service for more than 30 towns in Bulgaria.
    http://www.wimaxian.com/2008/11/28/nexcom-bulgari

  5. is the service fixed or nomadic/mobile WiMAX? Can you just go to one of the 30 towns with a USB dongle and connect to the service?

  6. Currently, the WiMAX network of Nexcom supports nomadity, i.e. you can move your wireless modem from one point to another within the WiMAX coverage and to use the services from different places. To use the services being on the move will be possible when Nexcom upgrades entirely its network to mobile WiMAX access.

    http://wimax.nexcom.bg/en/usefulinformation/frequ

    FAQ>service>Can I use the WiMAX services while being on the move?"

  7. WiBro (Wireless Broadband) is the service name for mobile WiMAX (IEEE 802.16e-2005) in South Korea. It uses 2.3 GHz spectrum with 8.75 MHz channels. Is that WiMAX? Of course — the first WiMAX Forum Certified products for 802.16e-2005 were based on the WiBro spectrum profile! Nearly 200 mobile WiMAX devices have been announced or are commercially available today. The details are available in the "Mobile WiMAX Device Guide".

  8. very good price, but the launch of Yota's WiMAX service has been pushed back from November 2008 to end of March 2009. I checked the website yesterday.

  9. Yota in Russia provide uplink to 10mbit/s for $30 per month (unlimited traffic), not bad, right?:)