After Australian broadband operator Buzz Broadband slammed WiMax as a "disaster," its equipment supplier Airspan has hit back, saying the performance issues were not its fault.
The controversy started at a WiMax conference in Bangkok. Buzz CEO Garth Freeman gave his take on WiMax in a speech at the conference, saying it may not work and that the technology is still mired in opportunistic hype, according to a report from the conference by Commsday.com.
He also said performance out of line of sight was nonexistent beyond 2 kilometers from the base station, indoor performance decayed at just 400 meters, and latency is unacceptable for IP telephony, according to the report.
Freeman said Buzz has now abandoned WiMax in favor of other technologies, according to Commsday.
Airspan, which shipped the equipment Buzz used, isn't turning the other cheek, and is now hitting back at Buzz, saying the technical and financial resources of Buzz Broadband were not sufficient to deploy a functioning network.
Buzz rejected outside help, he said.
With regard to range Buzz Broadband opted to go with the less-expensive micro-cell base stations in order to reduce cost. This was a well understood trade-off of cost versus range, according to Airspan.
The vendor also blames Buzz for bad IP telephony performance, saying Airspan technical services determined that Buzz's back-haul network was considerably under-dimensioned, again to save cost, and lacked sufficient quality of service, and that these factors were the direct cause of VOIP (voice over IP) quality issues in the network.
"Buzz's allegations, even when so easily dismissed, are a distraction to the WiMax industry," said Declan Byrne, chief marketing officer at Airspan.
The war of words between Buzz and Airspan doesn't come as a surprise to Gartner analyst Martin Gutberlet.
Arguments about performance are to be expected, as both vendors and carriers learn what WiMax can and can't do, he said. "WiMax is still a relatively new technology."
Michael Blomqvist, CEO of Nordic Nowire, an Airspan reseller, isn't surprised either, and he feels Airspan has to take some of the blame.
"The WiMax vendors, Airspan included, need to a larger responsibility when it comes to educating carriers" said Blomqvist, calling the mistakes Buzz has made classic.
Vendors have over-hyped WiMax, promising features and then not delivering, Blomqvist said, but he feels WiMax has a better price/performance ratio compared to competing mobile broadband technologies, when done right.