700 MHz vs WiMax, and RFID
Since July of 2007, I’ve been writing about the future impact of 700 MHz on communication, especially as it will impact RFID.
As AT&T and Verizon invested over $20 Billion in the spectrum auction, Google dropped out.
Instead, Google has decided to make an initial modest investment in WiMax with Sprint.
So now we’re all wondering what is the 3 year game plan for all these guys and how it impacts our RFID world.
First let me preface this latest in the series of articles with the following:
“Today, May 2008, we’ve successfully tested and implemented an application that provides real time locating of RFID within 1000 meters at a landscape covering 90% of the US population ‘without’ GPS.”
Yes, without GPS we can pinpoint an RFID device within 1000 meters using the 900 MHz spectrum. We know that with GPS we can pinpoint to 20 meter accuracy, but it’s exclusively for outdoor applications today. The 1000 meter range location with 900MHz spectrum is indoors or outdoors.
So now back to the 700 MHz and WiMax.
When Google realized that $20 Billion is too high a price to enter the telecommunication space, a group was formed to create a consortium to battle Verizon and T-Mobile.
Here is how it plays out. . .
Verizon has become the dominant spectrum holder of 700 MHz which means they have the lead in reducing their wireless infrastructure costs for voice and data, compared to AT&T. If the other players in the Telcom and RBOX environment stay with 900 MHz, Verizon’s costs of operation will be 20-25% of the competitors by 2015. So Sprint and T-Mobile needed to scramble for alternatives.
At the same time, Verizon’s highly promoted fiber optics offering is beginning to hurt the cable industry as Verizon is bundling voice, wireless, data and entertainment to the home with superior HD delivery.
This is hurting Comcast, Time Warner and CableVision.
Now come Google. Plenty of cash in the bank and a plan to take on Apple and the iPhone. The $20 Billion entry fee in 700 MHz was too high so Google went to the next choice. WiMax. Google is no stranger to WiMax. Google has been bidding on community WiMax RFP’s for over 3 years. If it’s too expensive to play in the 700 MHz field, why not WiMax?
Wait a minute. How does Google, iPhone and WiMax blend? Well, as long as you have a license in all 50 states for a digital network, there is no reason why you can’t offer VOIP over WiMax just like Vonage. In fact, one of the dirty little secrets of wireless voice and data is that the wireless companies basically only offer the first and last mile of transmission, the rest is over the cell phone communication is VOIP.
So, if Google goes with WiMax and offers a digital VOIP wireless phone, it’s basically Vonage handheld phone over WiMax.
But let’s get real. Google is not a phone company or a VOIP company. They are the best at delivering content and their revenue comes from ads. How are they going to pull this off?
Let’s go to Intel. Remember little Intel. They produce all those millions of WiFi enabled laptop chips. Well, if Motorola or Qualcomm provide the infrastructure for 700 MHz voice and data, what’s going to
happen to the Intel WiFi market?
To protect the Intel franchise, Google is partnering with Intel to produce devices that can connect with a national WiMax network. Whether it’s a phone or a laptop, Google and Intel will be competing with Verizon.
But neither Intel or Google know how to operate and promote voice and data. What to do? Enter Sprint. With $3 Billion, Sprint joins forces with Clearwire Corp to create the largest WiMax spectrum offering in the USA. So now we have Sprint with a significant, yet shrinking, sales and marketing channel in combination with Clearwire that is an expert in operating a WiMax architecture.
Funding from Google with more cash than the US Federal Reserve and Intel with an R&D and product development infrastructure that is second to none.
Last, there is a sprinkle of fairy dust from Comcast to help deliver content, and to some of us who are Comcast customers we envision that Comcast will contribute nothing of substance.
So now that I’ve exhausted a good part of your productive day with an description of the landscape, what does this mean?
How does the clash of the titans sound?
Verizon ‘vs’ Sprint, Google and Intel.
700 MHz ‘vs’ WiMax.
For RFID it means accelerated spectrum space in which to bring forth new products and new applications.
For RFID readers, it means that RFID readers can be connected directly to the backbone. We’re already doing it. In my shop I have a barcode reader that is connected to my wireless router and is in constant communication with my server 5,000 miles away.
For non-passive RFID devices the ability to remove readers from the formula is much closer now than ever before.
In other words, within the next 3 years we will no longer need readers/interrogators for non-passive RFID devices. Our non-passive RFID devices will communicate with the host directly, in real time, over
700MHz or WiMax.