Thursday, August 16, 2007

Music to my ears: Sprint is spending $5 billion on WiMax

Just read this article.

Sprint claims that their service will reach up to 100 million people upon completion! For those of you who are new to WiMax, it's basically a wireless technology that was originally developed by Motorala under the name Canopy. The technology is a lot like WiFi, but a single WiMax "hotspot" can cover up to a 50 km radius. Furthermore, multiple hotspots can be "meshed" together to form a continuous uninterrupted wireless broadband network.

The future of Internet radio will be intertwined with WiMax, and the availability of cheap GSM/CDMA networks. When people ask me why Internet Radio isn't more popular if it's so great, my answer is: "When the entire population can drive around in their car, and listen to it for practically nothing, then we'll see big changes."

I believe at this point, Internet Radio will see dramatic growth, mainly at the expense of terrestrial and satellite radio. It will be possible for both terrestrial and satellite to carry over large portions of their listenership to Internet radio - especially terrestrial radio which tends to have a local focus. However, satellite radio will be hit hard, and may be forced to reconsider their business model.

Consider this: when I was in Seoul Korea a few years ago, everyone was chatting on their cell phone in the subway. You couldn't get an FM radio signal down there, but you could listen to Internet radio (assuming you could afford the data charges). In a different situation, I was talking to Bob Hamilton from New Star Radio, and he told me that he was RVing around the mountains in Colorada and while his Internet radio connection through his Motorola Q was flawless, but his satellite connection was being constantly interrupted due to line-of-site interferences because the mountains were always getting in the way (this can also happen when driving near high rise buildings).

While I don't claim to be a psychic, there are certain events that can be easily predicted, especially when the march of technology is in clear view (as indicated by $5 billion infrastructure investments). If we look at the telecom markets, it was predicted that once VoIP technology became reliable it would cut into traditional telecom revenues. This is clearly happening right now. I see the emergence of cheap ubiquitous wireless broadband as accelerating the adoption of VoIP, and will carry Internet Radio with it.

Okay, enough technology for now, next blog we'll get back to talking about music.

Stay TUN3D.

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