Mobile WiMAX technology offers great promise for customers seeking broadband services "on the go." But it won't be the only game in town, as many network operators are also planning to roll out fully Internet Protocol (IP) based networks beginning in the next two years, according to a research brief from prognosticator ABI Research (www.abiresearch.com). The availability of full Third-Generation Partnership Program (3GPP) standards for mobile networks in early 2008 should clear the way for deployment of IP-based services starting in 2010, following trials the year before.

According to ABI Research analysis Ian Cox, it is all about cost: "Operators want to control operating costs by eliminating the current dual circuit and packet switched networks." Cox feels that an all-IP network will provide more and better services than a WiMAX system, with higher data rates for video and other services. Possibilities are examined in the ABI Research report, "Migrating Mobile Networks to IP."

The success of fixed and mobile WiMAX has been seen as a foregone conclusion by many in the industry, and this may still be the case. But alternative arrangements, such as all-IP networks, offer cost-effective solutions at good performance levels. And for broadband services, cost will be a critical factor for many customers.