WiMax Gets Serious

Major infrastructure equipment players like Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA) and Siemens Information and Communication Mobile Group are plotting moves into the nascent WiMax market in 2005 using silicon from Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC).

Startups, smaller gear vendors, and wireless ISPs aren't waiting for the big boys but are plowing ahead with nearly-WiMax equipment and services now -- in just the same way vendors started to offer wireless LAN equipment based around the 802.11g (54 Mbit/s over 2.4GHz) standard months before that was ratified.

WiMax -- or 802.16a to its friends -- is the new hip term to drop in wireless circles [ed. note: WiFi is soooo last year, dahlink]. Fans of WiMax claim that the technology -- which is intended to provide high-speed data services over distances of 30 miles or so -- will replace everything from 3G cellular networks to DSL and wireless LAN, and still cook you breakfast in the morning.

Tigard, Ore.-based wireless ISP VeriLAN Inc. is claiming to be one of the first operators in the U.S. to offer a fixed wireless service using a WiMax-like service -- in the Portland area -- using equipment from Canadian vendor Wi-LAN Inc. (Toronto: WIN).

VeriLAN can't actually brand its service with the WiMax name yet, because the WiMax Forum won't ratify the first specification to bear that name until the summer.

"It's 99 percent there," Steven Schroedl, the president of VeriLAN told Unstrung. "But the forum doesn't want anyone using the name yet."

As well as Wi-LAN, Intel partner Alvarion Ltd. (Nasdaq: ALVR) and Redline Communications Inc. have recently introduced WiMax-ish kit.

Joe English, WiMax campaign manager at Intel, doesn't seem too worried about any problems with pre-WiMax kit coming onto the market before the real deal is ratified.

"It very much resembles what this specification will eventually become," English says. The difference is that the WiMax Forum will undertake interoperability testing between different WiMax-branded kit.

What seperates equipment from the smaller firms and upcoming gear from the likes of Alcatel is that Alvarion and others will produce kit intended as wireless cable replacement subscriber boxes, while the Gallic Gargantua's products will be targeted at the carrier market, English reckons.

Intel is due to launch its first WiMax silicon in the second half of this year, and English looks for the first WiMax-certified products to follow in early 2005. Alcatel and Siemens are plotting product for the second half of next year.

Of course, this being wireless, the terminology that describes the underlying technology just has to be confusing. Intel's first chips will actually be based on the 802.16a revision d specification, which is intended for fixed wireless applications. After that will follow silicon based on the 802.16a revision e specification, which is aimed at mobile wireless applications where battery life is a concern. According to Intel's English, some people call 802.16a rev d "802.16d... for shorthand."

Clear as mud, eh, readers?

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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whyfly 12/5/2012 | 2:08:30 AM
re: WiMax Gets Serious el Rupester,

"... unless the basestations coordinate then there is no differentiation"

I agree with your assessment. As far as I know, there is no mechanism in the current 802.16a standard for base station to base station coordination. Incidentally, Marianna Goldhammer of Alvarion is currently discussing the interference issue in the 802.16 email reflector...


Her conclusion is that BS-to-BS separation needs to be at least 3.2 to 15.8 Km depending on the type of antenna used. For co-channel interfarence, BS-to-BS separation must be at least 120 Km!!!

Well, good luck with unlicensed WiMAX deployment!
El Rupester 12/5/2012 | 2:08:37 AM
re: WiMax Gets Serious FastFourier:

"WIMAX in unlicensed spectrum [...] the same or better bandwidth"

But presumably for WiMAX in unlicensed bands the equipment would have to obey the same EIRP (power, emission) restrictions as any other equipment in that unlicensed band.

So the performance you will get will be comparable to WiFi (similar rate, reach). If you want to get the 10s of Mbs over a few Km, you need a decent PA (say 5W?) - and that is only allowed in licenced spectrum.

"Licensed" is not a synonym for "3" -- in UK, PCCW bought licenses at 3.4GHz and could offer WiMAX (although I think they prefer WCDMA-TDD), and of course carriers in US own MMDS & LMDS bands.

The other advantages that cellular carriers have will be mobilty / ubiquity (your model is the same as WiFi hotspot coverage), and the ability to cross subsidisize from voice revenue. Look at Vodafones cash flow, and think what they might want to do to leverage their investment in 3G spectrum.

"Two wisp's antennae on the same tower, same unlicensed spectrum can differentiate"

As I understood it, "Not quite, not yet".
One BS can distinguish, yes, but unless the basestations coordinate then there is no differentiation. That coordination could be slot assignments, subchannelisation or different frequencies - but it is not automatic, it means the WISPS need to explictly agree how they will share the bandwidth.

It might get better with .d (subchannelisation, different codes) -- but I still think it is going to be predoiminantly a licensed deployment.
FastFourier 12/5/2012 | 2:08:43 AM
re: WiMax Gets Serious "The WISPs will be confined to rural areas and the big boys will take up the metro areas with the MMDS spectrums they already own. But the broadband wireless deployment will be based on EV-DO and WCDMA instead of WiMAX."

Not a chance. WIMAX in unlicensed spectrum will be the WISP's and will force the EV-DO/WCDMA into oblivion. Why would I even use the telco ev/do offering if i can get the same or better bandwidth that has no license fee "recovery" built into the pricing.

Before you say "noise, & interference" you better read about the wimax base to cpe handshaking. Two wisp's antennae on the same tower, same unlicensed spectrum can differentiate between "their cpe" and their competitor/neighbor's. I think the telco's are going to crowd the wisps out, only when they layer on a lot of extra services that are needed.
FastFourier 12/5/2012 | 2:08:45 AM
re: WiMax Gets Serious Trond,
at the recent WI-LAN agm I asked someone who would know " when is wimax going to get realistic aboout that 30mile / 50km radius boast?". The answer was that point to point, only, that radius is feasible when used with focussed antennae.

The example of folks ( see http://nocat.net et.al.) getting 5-10 miles with 802.11b was the same idea some while ago.

So, the range issue depends on your perspective, point to point or point to multipoint? It is all in the engineering of the WAN.

whyfly 12/5/2012 | 2:09:24 AM
re: WiMax Gets Serious The WISPs are going to lose out in the long run but they will continue to grow for a couple years until the big boys, Verizon, Sprint, Nextel, move in. The WISPs will be confined to rural areas and the big boys will take up the metro areas with the MMDS spectrums they already own. But the broadband wireless deployment will be based on EV-DO and WCDMA instead of WiMAX.
angelseye2000 12/5/2012 | 2:09:25 AM
re: WiMax Gets Serious IEEE 802.16 Session #30 Report

Session #30 of the IEEE 802.16 Working Group on Broadband Wireless Access took place on 15-18 March 2004 in Orlando, FL, USA, along with the IEEE 802 Plenary Session. The site was the Hilton in the Walt Disney World Resort. The attendance of 221 people, almost double that of the previous Plenary Session, broke the 802.16 record of 211, set at Session #10. Working Group membership grew from 65 to 90. In spite of the growth, broad consensus emerged on major issues.

Revision of IEEE Standard 802.16 Passes Sponsor Ballot, pending Recirculation
IEEE P802.16-REVd, a comprehensive draft revision of IEEE Standard 802.16 ("Air Interface for Fixed Broadband Wireless Access Systems") and its two amendments, completed Sponsor Ballot before Session #30. Following comment resolution during the session, only one disapprove vote remained. The 802 LMSC EC agreed, conditionally, to forward the draft for IEEE-SA approval. The Working Group intends to submit the draft in May, following recirculation. Once approved, the document will be published as IEEE Standard 802.16-2004 and will replace IEEE Standards 802.16-2001, 802.16c-2002, and 802.16a-2003.

Mobile WirelessMAN (P802.16e) Draft Finishes Working Group Letter Ballot
A Working Group Letter Ballot was completed regarding IEEE P802.16e/D1, the first draft of the enhancement of the WirelessMAN air interface to support mobile as well as fixed users. During the session, comments were resolved. Since the ballot concluded successfully, a recirculation of comments will be initiated.


angelseye2000 12/5/2012 | 2:09:25 AM
re: WiMax Gets Serious Interview President WiMAX Forum

Listen to the audio discussion with Margaret LaBrecque
20K Stream - 42 min
WinMedia | Real | mp3
(full 42 min. show; 11.6 MB download)

angelseye2000 12/5/2012 | 2:09:26 AM
re: WiMax Gets Serious "You are a little quick to assume I say things I do not know. I pointed to the Wi-Lan customer's liberal use of terms, and raised a question about the source...."

Maybe you do "know" but i can not find it in your msg. You stated that Wi-Lan has "sold "WiMAX" equipment" knowing that they are selling "Wi-Max-like" equipment (like i said): "Could it be that VeriLAN's vendor, Wi-LAN, has sold "WiMAX" equipment, when the marketing department should have written "802.16a compliant equipment"?"

You also ask me why i don't comment on the 30 mile radius? "How come you did not comment on the 30-mile radius?"....as if i should comment on everything you print in your msg? Plus am not a real tech trond....

Various Wi-Lan products with different specs (incl. miles radius).

I don't know what kind of miles radius Wi-Lan's WiMax Products are going to offer. What about competitors?

Wi-Lan has stated before that there is a big difference between Near-LOS and NLOS.

"After all, if the customers already think...."

What to say and think about what customers "think"?

lrmobile_trond 12/5/2012 | 2:09:28 AM
re: WiMax Gets Serious Thanks for useful information.

You are a little quick to assume I say things I do not know. I pointed to the Wi-Lan customer's liberal use of terms, and raised a question about the source. As you point out, WiLan -- in its legal department reviewed PR -- is diligently distinguishing between the certified equipment and equipment marketed pre-compliance testing.

How come you did not comment on the 30-mile radius? After all, if the customers already think it will be NLOS from one side of NYC to the other to a user terminal on street level or in an office on the ground floor, at full system load, then is that good for business?

WiMax does not need the usual performance padding to be good. If the industry wants to be taken seriously, it needs to set realistic expectations about deployment parameters.

thevoiceofreason 12/5/2012 | 2:09:29 AM
re: WiMax Gets Serious I think the real losers here are wireless operators who have invested a lot of money. The business model only makes sense if you can somehow boast your ARPU.

When WiMAX-type services are available, the only business model operators will be able to sell is all-you-can-eat for a little more than DSL because of wireless ubiquity (maybe up to $40/month).

EV-DO and WCDMA base stations only go about 1.5 km. Compare this to 30 km for WiMAX and the business model makes a lot of sense.

Spectrum? How about all the MMDS spectrum that's empty (I think Sprint and Nextel own most of it now).

I think this could be major and the reason is price and near-cellular ubiquity.
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