Optical/IP Networks

802.16e Spec Nears Completion

The final version of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE)’s 802.16e standard may be ratified by the end of this month, a move that would open the way for future mobile WiMax services.

“It has been completed and sent out for, hopefully, a final recirculation about one hour ago,” wrote Brian G. Kiernan, chair of the 802.16e Task Group, in an email note to Unstrung yesterday. “If that recirc goes clean, we are done. We’ll know in two weeks.”

In contrast to fixed WiMax products, which are based on the IEEE's 802.16-2004 standard and are expected for commercial launch in the first half of next year, mobile WiMax is focused on portable and mobile broadband services. Certification testing and product availability is slated for the second half of 2006 at the earliest. Industry speculation suggests the standard will be officially named 802.16-2005.

The mobile WiMax market has already caught the attention of both incumbent network vendors and startups. A number of cellular network vendors -- such as LG Electronics Inc. (London: LGLD; Korea: 6657.KS), Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK), Nortel Networks Ltd. (NYSE/Toronto: NT), and Samsung Corp. -- have chosen to bypass the fixed-wireless WiMax market and instead hold out for mobile WiMax services (see Moto Jumps to Mobile, Nokia Commits to Mobile WiMax and Samsung Mobilizes WiBro). Meanwhile, newcomers such as Adaptix Inc. and Runcom Technologies Ltd. are focusing specifically on this sector (see Adaptix, NY3G Team Up and Runcom Touts Mobile WiMax).

Despite such support, the future success of mobile WiMax services remains uncertain. Earlier this year an Unstrung Insider report claimed that market developments and competing technologies could strangle the potential of 802.16e products by the time such kit is finally available (see Mobile WiMax Faces Struggle). Last month Unstrung readers also expressed concerns over a realistic timeframe for commercial network launches (see Readers Wait on Mobile WiMax).

— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung

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