Samsung Targets WiMax 2 in 2011
But while the WiMax community talked up WiMax 2, the Long Term Evolution (LTE) camp -- and more specifically, supporters of the TD-LTE flavor -- seemed to do its best to spoil the WiMax fun in Taipei. In an unlikely coincidence, Nokia Networks announced late last week that it will build a test TD-LTE network in Taiwan with National Chiao Tung University (NCTU) and with help from China Mobile Communications Corp. , while China Mobile separately signed a pact with Far EasTone Telecommunications Co. Ltd. to trial TD-LTE in the country. (See Chungwha Trials LTE in Taiwan.)
From here, it looks like a mobile broadband showdown has just kicked off in Taiwan.
The rival TD-LTE and WiMax announcements coming out of Taiwan are indicative of the threat that the time division duplex (TDD) version of LTE increasingly poses to next-gen WiMax 2, which is based on the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE) 's 802.16m specification. While the WiMax 2 standard is expected to be completed in the second half of this year, the technology's future is unclear given the momentum behind TD-LTE. (See WiMax vs. LTE: The Rematch, Qualcomm Unveils LTE Plans for India, and India's WiMax Camp Wants Intel's Support.)
For example, the major WiMax operator in the US, Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR), has indicated that it could be open to deploying technologies other than WiMax in the future. In the strongest indication yet that Clearwire could shift to TD-LTE, the operator, along with Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) and major equipment suppliers, recently asked the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) standards body to adopt the 2496MHz-to-2690MHz frequency band in the US for TD-LTE use. (See Clearwire Paves Way for LTE in US.)
As TD-LTE momentum builds, WiMax suppliers are stepping up efforts to develop WiMax 2.
Samsung said today that it aimed to deploy WiMax 2 in 2011, although it did not name which operator customer would be involved in that deployment. Samsung's WiMax customers include Clearwire, UQ Communications Inc. in Japan, Yota in Russia, and YTL Communications in Malaysia.
Some operators are already making plans to test WiMax 2:
Clearwire's CTO John Saw told Light Reading Mobile in January that it will test WiMax 2 in 2011. Clearwire has a legal agreement with Intel that ties the operator to mobile WiMax until November 2011. (See Clearwire Not Rushing to Test 'WiMax 2' and Clearwire Can't Stray From WiMax 'Til 2011.)
In Russia, Yota has plans to roll out a test WiMax 2 network with Samsung later this year. (See Yota Trials WiMax 2.0.)
Samsung is not alone in its support for WiMax 2 this week at the WiMax industry's gathering in Taiwan. WiMax equipment and silicon suppliers joined forces to accelerate the interoperability certification process for WiMax 2 equipment. With the new initiative, the WiMAX Forum could be ready to certify commercial WiMax 2 equipment by late 2011.
The companies involved in the WiMax 2 interoperability initiative include Alvarion Technologies Ltd. (Nasdaq: ALVR), Beceem Communications Inc. , GCT Semiconductor Inc. , Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC), Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), Samsung, Sequans Communications , and ZTE Corp. (Shenzhen: 000063; Hong Kong: 0763).
— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile