Leading communications component and equipment companies have joined a non-profit corporation, WiMAX, to help promote and certify the compatibility and interoperability of broadband wireless access equipment. WiMAX’s current members now include Airspan Networks, Alvarion Ltd., Aperto Networks, Ensemble Communications Inc., Fujitsu Microelectronics America, Intel Corporation, Nokia, OFDM Forum, Proxim Corporation and Wi-LAN Inc.
The group’s efforts will help accelerate the introduction of wireless broadband equipment into the marketplace that adheres to the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE*) 802.16 technical standard, speeding up last-mile broadband deployment worldwide.
The 802.16 standard, which the IEEE modified this January in its 802.16a amendment covering the 2 GHz to 11 GHz frequencies, is a wireless metropolitan area network technology that will connect 802.11 hot spots to the Internet and provide a wireless extension to cable and DSL for last mile broadband access. It provides up to 31 miles of linear service area range and allows users to get broadband connectivity without needing a direct line of sight to the base station. The wireless broadband technology also provides shared data rates up to 70 Mbps, which is enough bandwidth to simultaneously support more than 60 businesses with T1-type connectivity and hundreds of homes with DSL-type connectivity using a single sector of a base station. A typical base station has up to six sectors.
“Wireless Internet service providers are deploying wireless broadband access in more than 2,500 underserved markets in the United States by using proprietary technology solutions,” said Margaret LaBrecque, WiMAX president. “By employing 802.16 solutions, these service providers will increase system performance and reliability while lowering their equipment costs and investment risks.”
Today, a local service provider could take up to three months or more to provision a T1 network line for a business customer, if the service is not currently available in the business’ building. With 802.16 wireless broadband technologies, the same service provider could provision the same speed of network access as the wired broadband solution in a matter of days and at a fraction of the cost. With this capability, a service provider could offer “on demand” high-speed connectivity for events, such as trade shows, with hundreds or thousands of 802.11 hot spot users, or nomadic businesses, such as construction sites, that have sporadic broadband connectivity needs.
During the next year, WiMAX will develop conformance test plans, select certification labs and host interoperability events for 802.16 equipment vendors. The group also will work with the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) to develop test plans for HIPERMAN*, the European broadband wireless metropolitan area access standard.
“Standards are critical, but a standard by itself is not enough to enable mass adoption,” said Roger Marks, the IEEE 802.16 chairman. “WiMAX has stepped forward to help solve barriers to adoption, such as demonstrable interoperability and cost of deployment.”
WiMAX will use the same approach that the Wi-Fi Alliance used to help ignite the wireless LAN industry, by defining and conducting interoperability testing and labeling vendor systems with a “WiMAX Certified” label once testing has been completed successfully.
“The Wireless Communications Association applauds the advancement of voluntary standards and interoperability as key to keeping deployment costs low and advancing the growth of wireless broadband,” said Andrew Kreig, WCA president.
The group will educate the communications industry about its efforts at the 2003 Broadband Wireless World conference in San Jose, Calif., where it will conduct a half-day educational session on April 10. WiMAX member companies will present on a variety of topics, including the role and agenda of WiMAX, the difference between 802.16 and 802.11, how to become WiMAX certified, and the international applicability of the 802.16 standard. The session will be held at the San Jose Convention Center from 8 to 11 a.m. PST. More information on this event is available at www.shorecliffcommunications.com.