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WiMAX gets stronger despite HSPA threats

By Prince Osuagwu
IT seems as if the threat anticipated from High Speed Package Access, HSPA and Long Term Evolution technologies over  WIMAX, may not hold enough ground, after all.

This is as the technology gets stronger and introduces innovations to itself by the day.
The news of capabilities of these technologies and the possibilities they can bring about, send shivers down the spines of industry players on the WIMAX platform and created a perception that WIMAX was almost becoming obselete.

However, the technology has held its ground, making waves and almost becoming the most reliable technology in many developing countries if not the world at large.

Wimax, meaning, World Wide Intereopability for Microwave Access, is a telecommunications Technology that provides wireless transmission of data using  a variety of modes from point-to-point links to portable internet access.
The technology provides up to 75megabytes per second symmetric broadband speed without the need for cables.
But HSPA  is a collection of mobile telephony protocols that extend and improve the performance existing Universal Mobile Telecommunications System, UMTS protocols.
Technically, the two technologies have to do with Universal Telecommunications System, but the difference is speed, fuelling  the speculation that since the industry is dynamic and mainly for the upward mobile, every user would move over to the faster.

Incidentally, developments in recent times are proving otherwise. For instance, leading WiMAX silicon suppliers, equipment makers and research organisations recently announced a new initiative to accelerate interoperability of the next release of WiMAX technology, WiMAX 2, based upon the IEEE 802.16m standard.

The 802.16m is an advancement on 802.16e, upon which regular Wimax was dependent. It added  new capabilities while maintaining backward compatibility.  It is said to meet the International Telecommunications Union requirements for 4G or IMT-Advanced technology, delivering higher system capacity peak rates of more than 300 Mbps, lower latency and increased VOIP capacity.  The performance gains will enable WiMAX operators to keep up with the explosion in demand for rich, multimedia mobile applications and devices which increasingly require high speed, on-the-go connectivity.

Before now, a wimax company, Alvarion has been a strong advocate of open standards and interoperable solutions that help foster a complete ecosystem.

And so, the company’s Corporate Vice President, Innovation and Marketing, Mr Mohammad Shakouri,  said of  the  Wimax 2 idea: “We believe that WiMAX 2 is a natural evolution of the technology that will allow the operators to strive to seamlessly enhance the performance of their current networks. We look forward to working with the industry leaders to bring the technology early to the market.”

The 802.16m air interface standard definition began in 2006 in the IEEE as a follow-on to 802.16e, and is expected to be completed in the 2nd half of 2010.

As the 4G wireless broadband industry begins to take shape, it is imperative to evolve the industry model to create a better value chain for service providers.

Perhaps, that is why leading WiMAX vendors like Alvarion, Beceem, GCT Semiconductor, Intel, Motorola, Samsung, Sequans, XRONet and ZTE as well as Taiwanese research organisation ITRI have launched the WiMAX 2 Collaboration Initiative (WCI).  The group said it would work closely with the WiMAX Forum to accelerate the implementation of interoperable system profiles for WiMAX 2 equipment and devices with the goal of improving the economics of mobile broadband.

The objectives of the group include:Technology collaboration and joint performance benchmarking; Joint testing of 4G applications over WiMAX 2 solutions; early network level interoperability testing and strategies to prepare for WiMAX Forum certification.

The Taiwanese device manufacturing ecosystem is already providing all manner of clients today standalone modems, USB dongles, embedded modules for PCs, mobile Internet devices, handsets and CE devices based onWiMAX 1 platform.

Today, the WiMAX industry is seeing a non-linear shift in mobile broadband usage models, similar in magnitude to that experienced when people went from dial-up to broadband.
Consumers on some WiMAX networks are consuming up to7GB to 10 GB of data per month.  The group believed that WiMAX 1 ushered in a new, open model for high speed, wireless Internet and that WiMAX 2 will keep pushing the envelope to help operators keep up with insatiable demand.

The wireless industry is convinced that the growing volume of data consumers are eating up is a bad thing.
The new WIMAX improvement seems to be exciting many users of the technology worldwide, who are earnestly yearning for the commercial launch of Wimax 2.

But the group says it will issue detailed milestones and delivery schedules within the next three to six months with the goal to support the WiMAX Forum’s readiness to certify commercial products by late 2011.


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