WiMax Handset the Iceberg’s Tip for Devices?

Despite all the hand-wringing there seems to be going on about the supposed lack of WiMax devices, or the supposed closed nature of WiMax networks, it doesn’t seem like device manufacturers have gotten the memo. Instead, we’re seeing more WiMax devices emerge every day, with more (reportedly) on the way.

(And yes, that parade of laptops with WiMax embedded inside that we talked about earlier is already marching down the street. Told ya so!)

The HTC WiMax handset for the Russian Yota network is getting its share of play in the blogosphere today, but anyone who was at WiMax World in Chicago last week heard Yota CEO Denis Sverdlov proclaim that his network would offer a “WiMax/GSM PDA” sometime in November. Yota, Sverdlov said, already offers a WiMax/Wi-Fi router from Asus, and will have embedded PCs available before the end of the year.

What’s the Yota network like? According to Sverdlov there will be 900 base stations in Moscow alone (the company is also offering services in St. Petersburg), and “very importantly” Yota built its own beefy backhaul network (with peak data rates of 180 Gbps, Sverdlov said) to keep the network humming. While Sverdlov said Yota “understands the chicken and egg problem” (of device vendors not wanting to build for networks that aren’t running yet) he also told the WiMax World audience last Thursday that devices are “coming much faster than expected.”

For U.S. WiMax markets, the next “big” product will be the WiMax/3G device that Sprint is promising before the end of the year. Having a connectivity option that would provide fast access when WiMax is available and OK coverage when it’s not would go a long way toward convincing users to give WiMax a chance. Maybe soon the question won’t be about whether devices are coming or not, but instead about which one should you choose.

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