Security, Costs Remain Challenges for WiMAX

By Judy Mottl

May 28, 2008

New survey shows enterprises realize mobility benefits but aren't turning to WiMAX very soon.

Wi-Fi is cemented into enterprises, 3G is taking deeper root and although mobile-application security is a major concern, WiMAX is still just a faint idea for most enterprises', according to a new report from Chadwick Martin Bailey.

A survey of 114 IT decision makers reveals that 69 percent of enterprises use Wi-Fi for data access and 48.2 percent use 3G cellular service with 53.5 percent having no plans to move to WiMAX.

"3G is definitely being embraced, though it's interesting that security as well as costs are still top issues today," Chris Neal, technology practice leader at Chadwick Martin Bailey.

The fact that WiMAX isn't on the to-do list can't sit well with wireless carriers who are all running to beat each other at pushing out WiMAX networks.

A compelling reason may be that half of those polled, 50.9 percent, cited data security as a top issue, with IT support costs landing in second with 17.5 percent and service costs at 15.8 percent.

Nearly half of the survey respondents, 44.7 percent, also cited smartphone loss and theft as an issue. Up-front equipment costs were cited by 40.4 percent. The survey results do align with recent research indicating that mobility is becoming an important business driver, propelling adoption of smartphones and innovation in mobile device applications.

Despite the concerns, enterprises do recognize the benefits mobility can bring to business. Increased productivity is the top deployment factor for 82.5 percent of respondents, with enhanced employee availability as the No. 2 benefit with 80.7 percent and increased collaboration coming in at third at 66.7 percent.

"The availability aspect is the 'leash' connection as employees have no excuse not to be available," said Neal, adding that organizations are also realizing how mobility is a crucial subset of unified communications efforts. Mobile UC is gathering speed as worker mobility become a bigger business driver.

Most interesting, however, is how enterprises view various technologies when it comes to security, speed, reliability and cost efficiency. 3G was tagged as most reliable with 43 percent, with Voice over Wi-Fi reliable with 12.3 percent.

4G services was cited as fastest in data transfer, yet 60 percent have no plans to deploy it anytime soon. Wi-Fi for data access scored tops in security, with 34.2 percent, and WiMAX landed last with 10.5 percent. The most mature technology is 2G cellular, with WiMAX termed the most immature.

In terms of cost efficiency, Wi-Fi ranked tops with 44.7 percent of respondents and 4G last with 10.5 percent.

When it comes to mobile devices, it remains a horse race between Research In Motion's (NASDAQ: RIMM) BlackBerry and the Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) Windows Mobile platform on issues ranging from interface, compatibility and security.

The BlackBerry got kudos with 38 percent noting ease of use, though Windows Mobile wasn't far behind with 27 percent. The Symbian platform was cited as least friendliest with 1.8 percent.

Windows was cited as most compatible with application environments by 58.8 percent, with RIM getting just 26.3 percent. But the BlackBerry clearly is the security winner, getting 41.2 percent while the Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) mobile OS beat out Microsoft with 17.5 percent to Redmond's 11.4 percent.

In terms of cellular service, Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ) is well in the lead with 45.6 percent of enterprises claiming it offers the best corporate data service plan for mobile enterprise applications. AT&T (NYSE: T) landed second with 32.5 percent and Sprint-Nextel (NYSE: S) took third with 14.0 percent. T-Mobile grabbed just 5.3 percent of the vote.



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