WiMax Gear Approved for Market
The successful certification marks a breakthrough for the burgeoning WiMax equipment industry, which has seen the progress of equipment to market delayed several times by disagreements over standards and turmoil in the small group of broadband-wireless companies. Today's announcement, made at the Technical and Business Symposium of the Wireless Communications Association International (WCA) in San Jose, Calif., marks the most significant step to date in the development of new broadband wireless technology, which could in the next few years replace DSL and cable modems in many homes and small businesses across the United States and Europe.
Based on the IEEE standard 802.16, WiMax presents a competitive threat to 3G technology to provide the basis for fixed and mobile broadband links over the next few years. The certification process has been seen as crucial to build momentum behind WiMax in the absence of an established market for the technology.
"With more than 150 commercial trials and deployments of fixed WiMax networks announced to date," said Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) executive Ronald Resnick, who heads the WiMax Forum, in a statement, "it is clear there is tremendous confidence placed in these systems by operators around the globe."
While the testing and certification process was something of a scramble, in order to have the announcement ready for the important WCA gathering this week, it has been relatively politics-free, according to Rupert Baines of Picochip , a maker of chipsets for WiMax equipment.
"These companies like Wavesat and Redline need a standard, or they can't carry on," Baines comments. "That helps keep things moving forward. Then you've got Intel driving things so hard, and in a sense it is above politics. So this process has been comparatively smooth compared to other standards I've been involved with."
Cetecom, the Forum's certification lab in Spain, has received 26 requests from manufacturers for testing slots for additional equipment over the next few months. WiMax gear for fixed broadband is expected to begin reaching the market in mid-2006, with equipment for the mobile market following in early 2007.
— Richard Martin, Senior Editor, Unstrung