The man set to take charge of BT when existing chief executive Ben Verwaayen steps down, may be considering a possible move into the WiMax arena.
Ian Livingston currently heads up BT Retail, and was formerly the finance director at the UK telecoms giant. It was announced earlier this week that the board had unanimously voted that he would succeed outgoing Verwaayen as chief executive of BT Group on 1 June.
Livingston took little time to make an impact, and in an interview with the Financial Times, told the newspaper that while he would pursue the same strategy developed by Verwaayen, it would evolve.
Livingston also told the Financial Times that the British carrier would consider investing in WiMax.
Ofcom, the telecoms regulator, is to auction radio spectrum that could be used for WiMax technology in the summer.
"We will look at WiMax," Livingston told the newspaper. He added that BT had enjoyed a "great deal of success" with Wi-Fi.
Last month, a senior Ericsson executive said that Wi-Fi hotspots were set to become as irrelevant as phone booths, thanks to the huge rise in people using mobile broadband. Some are worried that the rise in mobile broadband could have an impact on WiMax takeup, and it remains to be seen how many organisations will be willing to bid for possible licences in the UK.
"We are aware of the spectrum auctions coming up, but no decision has been made about whether we will bid yet," a BT spokeswoman told Techworld.
In the US, there have been question marks over the future of the flagship WiMax project in North America after the Sprint Nextel and Clearwire joint venture collapsed last year. Motorola has previously said it still sees a strong future for the WiMax market.
BT has suffered from a sizeable hole in its wireless strategy ever since the carrier brought into the prevailing financial wisdom of the time and sold off its mobile arm, BT Cellnet, back in 2001 in order to reduce a massive debt burden.
That decision was taken before Verwaayen became chief executive, and unfortunately it robbed BT of a valuable growth engine during the next seven years. Verwaayen instead focused on broadband and IT services in order to drive growth.
If BT does decide to enter the WiMax arena, it is unlikely to use the wireless technology for the consumer market, but instead would seek to use it to serve its corporate client base.
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