Observers who thought WiMax was hyped will not be surprised to know that the WiMax Forum has delayed certified products for six months, by putting back the date of its first "plugfest" or interoperability event.

The result could be more uncertified "pre-WiMax" products on the market, and more confusion, as vendors emphasise future mobile versions of the standard.

Some Forum members had said they hoped to have testing begin this month, and ship certified products in June, but those dates will go back by six months, according to the Forum. Dean Chang of Aperto, who chairs the WiMax Forum's service provider working group and the IEEE 802.16 publicity committee, confirmed the delay in Information Week this week.

"While few expected the schedule to go exactly as planned, six months is quite a long delay," commented Nancy Gohring, of Wi-Fi Networking News.

Vendors will go ahead and launch "WiMax-ready" kit, in the meantime, and will promise to iron out any incompatibilities with firmware upgrades after the products are delivered.

Chang said that pre-WiMax kit is already selling fast. This is a strange state of affairs: consumers are normally willing to take a risk on pre-standard kit (see pre-N WLAN kit, for instance), but the WiMax customers are operators, who are normally more conservative.

Ironically, the blame is being pinned on the chief WiMax promoter, Intel, whose customer premises equipment (CPE) chips have been delayed.

Despite the obvious drawbacks to any WiMax delay, there is a danger that the delay itself may get overhyped: "WiMax is getting a bit of criticism of late, as 3G networks launch, Wi-Fi coverage expands and questions surrounding the demand for a fixed WiMax service surface," warned Gohring. "Realistically, practically every standards process has taken longer than expected."