Acer Brings WiMAX to the Channel

The long-awaited WiMAX wireless technology may finally establish a toehold in the channel. Channel vendor Acer America is released its first WiMAX-enabled 4G notebooks in the U.S. market, the Aspire 4930 and 6930. Right now, Baltimore is the only city with a functioning WiMAX network.

Interestingly, Acer's action comes simultaneously with service provider Sprint pledging to support its Baltimore WiMAX rollout despite the current economic downturn. According to Sprint, other channel players such as Lenovo, Toshiba and Asus also have WiMAX-enabled notebooks available, and 20 other notebooks from Dell, Panasonic, Samsung and Sony are expected next year. Of course, the hope is that by the time these products come to market, a lot more cities will be hosting WiMAX networks. All of this activity isn't occurring in a vacuum. Intel has been a strong proponent of WiMAX from its inception, and when Intel leads, the rest of the IT industry is sure to follow.

The real challenge falls on Sprint, a service provider with service issues, to prove the commercial viability of the technology. WiMAX offers improvements in speed and reach over existing Wi-Fi networks, but Wi-Fi has a huge head start in wireless technology market share. The economic slowdown could slow down customer acceptance. Still it's an interesting battle ahead for Sprint and its channel partners.

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