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WiMAX Forum shuts up shop in Portland

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The head office of the WiMAX Forum has disappeared from the web site and is reportedly closed, as the centre of operations relocates to San Diego.

Around 40 staff were employed at the Beaverton offices, WiMAX Forum headquarters prior to the opening of the San Diego premises in April. At that time there was no mention of relocation plans, but Daily Wireless is now reporting the closure of Beaverton with only the Forum chair and assistant still in residence.

The Beaverton address has disappeared from the WiMAX Forum site, and calls to the office get a recorded announcement with few details. The San Diego office is answering the phone, and confirmed that Beaverton has indeed closed, and that around 25 of the staff made the move to San Diego.

WiMAX is in trouble - it's not living up to the expected rate of growth, though the standard is unlikely to disappear completely. Some of the largest deployments, including Yota and Sprint, are scheduling switches to the more widely endorsed LTE (Long Term Evolution) standard.

Wide-scale adoption is what it's all about: the relative merits of the technologies are neither here nor there. Intel spent a fortune trying to get WiMAX scaled up, but it couldn't compete with companies closer to the network operators who have been convinced to go down the LTE road.

That provided economy of scale to LTE kit (both infrastructure and customer devices), making it cheaper and thus even more popular and ever cheaper. That's known as the beneficent spiral - beneficent to LTE that is, not to those backing WiMAX.

Even the the one great advantage of WiMAX, its ability to operate in unpaired spectrum, has been eroded by the creation of TDD LTE (Time Division Duplex LTE - a variant of LTE operating in unpaired spectrum), which makes WiMAX properly redundant.

Portland was the main home for the WiMAX Forum, and its closure is surely a sign of the organisation facing up to a future of legacy deployments and vertical markets, and late nights in San Diego discussing what could have been. ®

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