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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

WiMAX and the Olympics

It’s great being back from my summer vacation and meeting up with everyone again.

As some of our Comsys employees will recall, when returning from my last summer vacation I shared my views on the benefits of the Mobile Internet and the “always connected” service (Subject: “receiving e-mail while hiking in the Tirol Mountains or boating on the Danube river..…”). My major complaints were the insufficient bandwidth and the high cost of service - 2 drawbacks that WiMAX should solve. However as I don’t have a Comsys-enabled WiMAX cellphone yet, this year we decided to save the international roaming cost and travel locally.

My family are real fighters and they love being around nature: hiking, biking, rafting, diving, camping - you name it. They don’t mind the heat, dust, early wake-up, basic food and even the crowds. They only had one basic request: “Dad, you know, the Olympic Games are happening now and we would like to watch the major events… live!!!”. As my older kids are basketball players, I appreciated their request and replied: “Don’t worry about it: I’m in the cellular business, I’m carrying 2 HSDPA devices (data card and PDA), I have 2 EDGE phones as backup, and I assure you that you won’t miss any Michael Phelps lap, Usain Bolt step or any Kobi Bryant dunk. You can trust me”. And they did.

But…while travelling in a beautiful country area, one of the swimming finals was about to start. We excitedly turned the HSDPA modem on, however couldn’t get more than 100KB/sec. The video obviously stuttered, the gang lost some patience, I turned red, but, luckily the kids showed maturity and forgave me as swimming isn’t their favorite sport anyway.

3 days later, and the 100m final run was about to start. We were by then in the Judeah Dessert. I turned on the HSDPA modem again but….. could only receive GPRS signal. What a shame… At this pace, poor Bolt is still running this race….unlike my kids‘ trust which I lost in world record time. Still, as basketball is their favorite sport, they forgave me once again, on condition to my swearing that the semi-final basketball game would be watched seamlessly.

When the big day arrived, I made sure we were in a reputable city (Eilat) with high quality HSDPA coverage. I prepared cold drinks for them, set us chairs under a palm tree and we were ready for the big moment. And indeed, the game started and the WebTV worked perfectly. I felt my pride returning and a big smile spread all over my face. However it didn't last for long. 2 minutes later I received an SMS from Orange: “Your 100MB allocation has been fully utilized. Cost of each additional 10KB is 0.2 NIS“. A quick calculation showed that watching the full game over HSDPA would cost me more than 6 flight tickets to China and back, and I had to turn the session off!! By this stage I was considered dead (in my kids eyes). Some of them have even given up their share of my will…....

Bottom-line – with growing demand for Web-TV services (72M video clips were downloaded from Yahoo Mobile during the games, similar numbers from NBC Mobile site) we must have WiMAX ASAP. This is the first technology that will allow the necessary bandwidth at an affordable price.

I’m sure that by next summer I’ll have a Comsys-enabled WiMAX phone and WiMAX service, otherwise I’ll have to bring the gang and an inflatable swimming pool and set up camp in the Comsys offices so that we can be connected (by wire) to the LAN, …… ;-)