WiMax Gets 'Smart'

A couple of prominent wireless broadband players -- ArrayComm Inc. and Navini Networks Inc. -- have now become boosters for WiMax wireless metropolitan area networking (MAN) technology.

Both firms are working with members of the WiMax Forum to try and improve the radio signal transmission characteristics of the underlying 802.16a technology by incorporating “smart antennas” into the specification.

ArrayComm hasn’t gone public with its involvement yet, but it is working on using the adaptive array antenna products with WiMax and has already made some co-filings on the standard in conjunction with Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) and others, according to Marc Goldburg, CTO at ArrayComm (see ArrayComm Has Its Chips). Goldburg explains that ArrayComm wants to improve the RF propagation of WiMax. This is so that the technology will work better for users connected via radio cards and modems inside a building, as well as the more traditional fixed wireless boxes mounted on the outside.

Naturally, improving signal strength and propagation is even more important when the user moves around, and this appears to be where Navini is targeting its work with the WiMax Forum.

Navini is working to incorporate some of its own “phased array” antenna technology into the 802.16a revision e of the spec, which adds mobile handoff capabilities to the current -- fixed wireless -- revision d of the standard.

“Phased array technology means multiple antennas that allow the systems to "steer" RF energy,” writes a Navini spokesperson in an email response to questions. “This approach provides additional gain, which is required to achieve broadband data rates in mobile and non-line of sight metro area coverage (two to five miles).”

Regular readers may be surprised to see Navini joining the WiMax Forum, since the firm roundly slagged the organization 12 months ago and threw its lot in with the rival 802.20 specification (see Enter the MAN Haters).

Well, what a difference a year makes. “Navini is in full support of operator requirements,” says the Navini spokesperson. “Working Group 802.16 has stepped up to the plate with the newly created Revision e of 802.16 standard, which has these requirements as deliverables.” [Ed. Note: We’ve really no idea what that means either, but we take it they like WiMax now.]

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

standardsarefun 12/5/2012 | 1:59:13 AM
re: WiMax Gets 'Smart' I don't blame anyone trying to re-enter the 802.16 market since it seems to be the only IEEE 802 based route that is currently going to let you get into a standards based broadband wireless access business this side of about 2010!

802.20 looked hot last year but then too many idealistic "use my techno" guys ran square into a whole heap of players who wants a single real standard. Ever since then nothing seems to be going right in that group.

Only time I ever saw a purely "one company solution" making it into open standards and then into real market success was qualcomm but those guys at least had a few clever people on board, knew something about marketing and luckily arrived at a time when the rest of the USA industry was ignoring the only real show that was capable of flying (GSM).
jevavi3 12/5/2012 | 1:54:26 AM
re: WiMax Gets 'Smart' Can someone explain to me the infrastructure requirements that providers of WiMAX services will be need to build before services can be offered. For example will they need to install equipment on existing towers, buildings, etc. and will they be able to install equipment in exisiting BTS Units at existing cell sites or will they need to install separate equipment?

Just trying to understand the needs of potential providers of this technology.

Thanks - JB
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