Monica Paolini, an telecom analyst in Sammamish, e-mailed a newsletter today on her experiences with WiBro, a WiMax-like service commecially deployed in South Korea.
The service is supposed to be one of the largest wireless broadband networks based on the WiMax standard in the world. At an industry trade show earlier this month, there was a lot of skepticism on whether WiMax will deliver on its promises of speed, reliability and applications.
It sounds like Paolini's experiences with WiBro may dispell most, if not all, of those questions.
Paolini wrote: "Last week in Seoul I had the opportunity to try WiBRO and it was quite impressive."
She said one of the things that impressed her the most was that she could make a Skype call from the 19th floor of a hotel when coverage was promised only to floor four.
She also noted that within the coverage area, she clocked rates ranging bewteen 500 Kbps to 2 Mbps in the downlink, and 250 to 500 Kbps in the uplink.
That also was considered quite good.
"This is quite a good performance as many users like me kept the network busy trying out the service, so unlike in most demos this was an intensively used network," she wrote.
One factor she looked at was the applications aimed at the service and how they were different from traditional cellular phone networks.
"In addition to Internet and e-mail access," she said, "the most salient feature of the other applications supported is that they were mostly aimed at user-to-user communication, like blogging, messaging, and video calls."
Those applications, she added, are cheaper to deploy because they rely on user-generated content, rather than more expensive content generated by movie or TV studios. User-generated content also requires faster networks because most of them require a faster network on the uplink. For instance, if a user wants to film a short video and then upload it to YouTube, the process would take much longer on a cellular network than it would on a WiBro network.