Receive new posts as email.
This site operates as an independent editorial operation. Advertising, sponsorships, and other non-editorial materials represent the opinions and messages of their respective origins, and not of the site operator or JiWire, Inc.
Entire site and all contents except otherwise noted © Copyright 2001-2006 by Glenn Fleishman. Some images ©2006 Jupiterimages Corporation. All rights reserved. Please contact us for reprint rights. Linking is, of course, free and encouraged.
Sprint Nextel will light up mobile WiMax in Chicago, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C., initially limited to company employees for testing: Within a few days, the network will go live in the downtowns of those three cities, and then extend outwards based on where high usage is already found for cell data networks. Customer trial start in first quarter 2008, and full commercial services in the second quarter. This is an important milestone given other uncertainties about Sprint’s future.
Mobile WiMax isn’t yet on the market as such, but Clearwire has some test products in consumers’ hands in Seattle: Friend and colleague Nancy Gohring reports for IDG News Service that Clearwire is selling PC Cards and a mobile service in the Seattle area. This service requires an $80-post-rebate Motorola card—Motorola having bought Clearwire’s equipment division last year—and a $60 per month service with 1.5 Mbps downstream rates. Clearwire has no downstream usage limits, Gohring reports, as opposed to Verizon and other cell carriers with services that can peak to rates at or above Clearwire’s maximum. Clearwire is trialing the service, and wouldn’t provide many details.
(See comments for Steve Stroh’s take on the underlying equipment—which he expects is nomadic, requiring stationary operation, not mobile.)
Update: It’s pretty clear that this card isn’t anything new, just newly available. It’s definitely using the existing Clearwire technology, but in a portable form factor that doesn’t require a separate power source. There’s no new technology behind serving a signal to the card. Still, a harbinger of what’s to come.
The company is migrating from proprietary gear to mobile WiMax over time: Their 15 sq. mi. test in Oregon in Intel country—one of the big backers of mobile WiMax—was apparently successful. The next phase grows to 145 sq. mi. The test covered coverage, capacity, and speed, the firm said. They say they’re on track to deliver mobile WiMax in 2008.
The current Clearwire technology has a bottom line performance about half the speed expected from the entry-level mobile WiMax offering, and uses technology manufactured by Motorola through a former division of Clearwire sold to that electronics giant.
The significance of mobile WiMax is not just faster speeds or greater distances. Rather, the promise is that with major equipment makers such as Intel, Samsung, and Motorola committed to producing gear in quantity, and with two providers rolling out in this country and others in South Korea, that the cost of getting the network running and customers equipped will be low enough to compete with 3G cellular data networks and their continual upgrades.
That remains to be seen, as the news anchors like to say.
Still, a publicly held firm declaring success on trials sets a legal bar for them if they later were to have trouble that was predicted at this stage.
I hate to sound like a press release: Motorola announced at the cell industry trade show that its interest in mobile WiMax isn’t just for laughs. They’re involved in 9 deployments and 25 trials of the technology worldwide, the latest of which is in Brazil with TVA.
The story is a bit complex, but it’s apparently a first: Nortel, Kyocera Wireless, and Runcom worked together to create the lab conditions to place a call using MIMO-equipped WiMax equipment. It’s all prototype gear, but it involved three different firms working together to produce the call, which included voice and streaming video. Nortel is heavily pushing MIMO-based WiMax; current WiMax standards don’t require MIMO, but there’s an expectation that it will be a significant part of wide-scale rollouts within a few years. MIMO buys you frequency reuse and greater range with relatively few penalties compared to simple omnidirectional antennas.
Nortel scores two wins: The company will work with the government of Japan to test mobile WiMax systems in the northern Tohoku region. The area has limited broadband access.
Nortel will also be building out mobile WiMax in Yilan, a northeast county of Taiwan, working with Chunghwa Telecom.
EE Times reports that Motorola and Softbank will build a trial network in Tokyo: Motorola will provide the system and mobile WiMax handheld devices. Softbank has 26m fixed-line and mobile customers in Japan that they could offer new services to. It’s a small trial with five base stations and 25 mobile devcies. But it will also show off MIMO technology in the base stations.
Natcom will start a trial in Auckland, New Zealand, of WiMax service: The Airthernet service starts with trials in January offering 2 to 10 Mbps. Companies that sign up will receive free equipment and pay a low rate during this period.
Are they using equipment certified in WiMax’s first round of basic testing? Not clear.
Alvarion said that multiple operators will conduct a total of 11 pre-WiMax trials in Italy: A state ministry has appointed a testing group to monitor the trials performance with results due by the end of the year.
Intel says it intends to test WiMax in Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines; South Korea already way ahead: Intel will start its trials by the end of 2005 with the intent to help providers roll out service within two to three years in the first three of those countries. South Korea is ahead of the pack with a commercial roll-out expected in the first half of 2006.
Deutsche Telekom will try out Alvarion’s WiMax technology for 100 hard-to-reach customers: DT’s T-Com unit has an enormous DSL footprint (6.7 million broadband lines), and wants to reach those they can’t bring high-speed Internet over wire to. The trial seems awfully small given that it will last through March 2006—100 customers near Bonn, Germany.
Pipex, a spectrum holder in the UK, is set to trial gear from Airspan: The trial should last six months and will test applications including voice over IP. I thought we were a little beyond the twisting of words but apparently not—the companies in their press release call this the “first 802.16-2004 compliant WiMax trial in the UK.” That’s a bit of a moot point seeing as there is no body that aims to assure the industry that equipment is 802.16-2004 compliant. Instead, statements like that only confuse readers into thinking that perhaps this is the first true WiMax compliant trial, but in fact that’s not true either seeing as certification hasn’t even started.
Qwest and Time Warner are both conducting broadband wireless trials around Denver: There’s not a lot of news here, but it’s a nice roundup with specifics about where the trials have been taking place. It sounds like Qwest is still planning on a trial with 800 customers once certified gear becomes available.
Alcatel is working with the electric company on a WiMax trial in the Alsace region of France: It sounds like just one WiMax base station is deployed, on equipment owned by the electric company and using the electric company’s fiber network for backhaul. The base station will supply connections to residents, businesses, a school, a library, and city hall. No mention of what spectrum is being used.
Siemens said it will launch a handful of trials of broadband wireless networks in Italy: Siemens will use its SkyMax gear, which the vendor hopes will receive certification as WiMax gear. Siemens isn’t naming names so it’s unclear if the vendor is working with an actual operator. [link via DailyWireless]
On the heels of Nextel’s announcement of an IPWireless trial, Sprint says it will trial mobile WiMax with Motorola: Sprint said that WiMax is one of the technologies it is trialing in consideration of services to be deployed in the 2.5 GHz band. Sprint recently purchased Nextel, which in addition to the IPWireless trial, has also conducted a live market trial of Flarion’s gear.
While earlier today I wrote that WiMax is at a disadvantage in a competition for Sprint’s business because IPWireless and Flarion have products available today, I’ve re-thought that point. Realistically, Motorola and a slew of other vendors also have broadband wireless equipment, they just aren’t technically standard. But neither are IPWireless or Flarion. IPWireless is technically part of an official body of standards, but it’s not really comparable to something like WiMax that has a much larger ecosystem of companies supporting it. Sprint could bet on WiMax, using proprietary equipment to begin with based on hopes of migrating to standardized and lower-cost equipment as it becomes available.
Nextel said it will launch a trial of IPWireless’ technology in the Washington, D.C. area: Nextel recently shut off its trial in North Carolina of Flarion’s technology. Nextel plans to use its 2.5 GHz spectrum for the IPWireless trial but it used a trial 1.9 GHz band for the Flarion network. Sprint, which recently bought Nextel, made some noises around the time of the merger about planning to deploy WiMax once the mobile version comes out. But since then the company seems to be softening the finality of that statement. Combined, the new Sprint Nextel have a significant portion of the 2.5 GHz licenses in the U.S., so they’re clearly looking for some way to leverage them. This is another instance where WiMax could loose out due to timing. Flarion and IPWireless both have equipment available today whereas the mobile WiMax standard isn’t even finalized yet.
Qwest said that it plans to launch a WiMax trial in a small city near Denver: The company hasn’t decided where but expects the trial to start in the fourth quarter of this year. Qwest has already been testing out broadband wireless among employees in Denver and Rio Rancho, New Mexico.
Qwest joins AT&T and Bellsouth in recent announcements about WiMax trials. These big name operators lend a lot of credibility to WiMax, although none has yet announced any large scale commercial rollouts. Notice it’s the big wireline operators expressing interest, rather than the mobile operators. This means the wireline guys might actually start paying attention to the smaller towns that they’ve previously said weren’t worth building broadband out to. It also means that if they do build the networks they could eventually steal some niche market share from the cellular operators, if the landline operators ultimately migrate to mobile WiMax. [Link via Broadband Reports.]
AT&T said it will launch another broadband wireless trial in Atlanta: The company has been trialing a similar network in New Jersey. AT&T isn’t saying whose gear it is using, but says that the equipment is all of the variety being submitted to the WiMax Forum for WiMax certification. A spokesperson said he doesn’t expect there to be many changes between what is being used now and final certified gear.
Interestingly, AT&T is using loaner frequencies from the FCC for the networks because it doesn’t want to use unlicensed spectrum. AT&T doesn’t have any licensed spectrum that would be suitable for WiMax so this makes the trials a bit curious. The spectrum situation is so murky in the U.S. that it’d be hard to imagine AT&T getting its hands on any useful licensed spectrum in the near enough future to be able to build a WiMax network. Perhaps AT&T wants to run its own trials before partnering with another company that does have spectrum to offer services.
BellSouth plans to launch a broadband wireless service in Athens, Georgia: Navini will supply the network. The companies are calling this a “pre-WiMax” network. Navini has been offering a portable solution, including PCMCIA cards and small portable modems, for a while. Navini is working with the 802.16e committee and plans to be WiMax compliant but not until 802.16e. To me, that means it’s a bit of a stretch to call Navini’s current generation products “pre-WiMax.” Most people using the “pre-WiMax” term today are referring to products that are aiming to be compliant with the first generation fixed WiMax standard. Regardless, the fact that BellSouth chose Navini shows that both portability and standards-compliance are likely important issues for BellSouth.
Telabria is launching a broadband wireless trial in Canterbury in the UK: The trial, which will be done with the University of Kent, will use gear from Alvarion and others and will test interoperability. The trial, which will use an R & D license from the regulator, will become commercial later this year, though it’s not clear what spectrum will be used for the commercial service. Part of the goal of the trial is also to test how networks behave using licensed and unlicensed spectrum.
AT&T’s CTO talks here about the company’s broadband wireless trial in New Jersey: The network will use an early version of Intel’s WiMax chip but will use the official Rosedale chip later in the year.
He sounds about as confused about where WiMax fits among other wireless technologies as just about everyone else in the industry. He draws a comparison to the cellular world, saying that 802.16 has the potential to be a worldwide standard where such a worldwide standard doesn’t exist in cellular because of both CDMA and GSM. While it’s true that 802.16 has the potential to position OFDM as a worldwide air interface standard, a very significant roadblock is the lack of a common frequency to deploy WiMax in around the globe. That means that global roaming, which wouldn’t happen until the next version of the standard is available anyway, is very far away.
He’s very wishy washy on the topic of WiMax competing against 3G and seems to contradict himself. But at this stage in the development of the next WiMax standard, it’s pretty hard to predict how the technology will be positioned in the market.
Alvarion issued a press release about a trial O2 conducted in Ireland: I wrote about the trial in January (no permalink, scroll down to January 27 posts). While Pat O’Connell at O2 told me that the company was generally happy with the trial, just as Alvarion notes in the press release, he was also a bit more candid with me about the reality of WiMax. O’Connell was personally skeptical about how soon and how broadly we might see significant WiMax networks. He also offered me an anecdote about the WiMax antenna blowing off the mast—a very real hazard involved in the building of broadband wireless networks.
This announcement is quite difficult to decipher: But ADP Telecom is using equipment from Alcatel for a trial aimed at determining how WiMax might work instead of Wi-Fi as a wireless access solution with a broader coverage area in airports. The trial will allow potential users ranging from baggage handlers, car rental services, check-in desks, and passengers to access the network. ADP is particularly interested in the nomadic capabilities of WiMax.
On a side note, my favorite word in the press release is “complementarity.” I don’t think it’s a real word in English, but it ought to be.
AT&T said it will launch a broadband wireless trial in May in Middletown, New Jersey: This article doesn’t include which vendor or vendors AT&T has chosen for the trial but the equipment used will be from a vendor aiming for WiMax compliance. AT&T is looking into replacing data lines that AT&T currently leases from local phone companies to serve business customers.
Late last year AT&T said it pays $8.5 billion to other phone companies to access their networks. Building its own network using WiMax would be a one time hit that could save the company a bundle over time.
Deutsche Telekom subsidiary T-Com will deploy a fixed broadband wireless network in the middle of the year: The first pilots will take place in Siegburg and Rheinbach. T-Com has already tested the WiMax-like technology in its lab and will be deploying the network as part of a €250 million investment in its network. The vendor has not been revealed, although speculation surrounds Alvarion.
Deutsche Telekom appears to be quite aggressive in trying out new technologies. In addition to this trial, it is trialing equipment from Flarion, in which it also invests, in the Netherlands. Deutsche Telekom also has licenses in the 450 MHz band in Germany and speculation has it that the operator may deploy Flarion’s equipment there. It’s quite a variety of networks for the operator and it’s not entirely clear how they all may ultimately work together.
Irish Broadband says it will have broadband wireless networks live in all of its coverage area later this year: The operator currently serves several markets and was recently awarded licenses for seven additional areas throughout Ireland. This article notes that Irish Broadband’s collaboration with Intel on a network in Leixlip is Ireland’s first WiMax trial. While technically that’s impossible because WiMax gear isn’t available, it’s clear the trial uses equipment based on the standard. O2 has also conducted a trial in a remote town in Ireland aimed at testing WiMax.
I’m also a bit confused about one comment from an Irish Broadband spokesman about the ubiquity of WiMax which he says doesn’t require users to be tied to a connection in the wall. The initial WiMax networks will require an antenna at the user premise which is then hardwired to a user’s modem, connected to a PC via Ethernet. A Wi-Fi extension, of course, eliminates the wiring. But WiMax on its own, at least initially, will require users to be tied to the wall.
After trialing WiMax in four UK towns, BT is likely to use the technology to deliver commercial broadband services soon: The target markets are in remote towns where using landline technologies has not proved feasible. The majority of people who trialed the service were quite happy with it, but a BT spokesman warns that they would be happy because the broadband service replaced dial-up access.
This is one of those incredibly vague articles that leaves you dying for more information: Apparently MobileOne in Singapore has been trialing a handful of wireless broadband technologies—not yet WiMax—and has some negative comments about its experiences so far. Unfortunately, MobileOne declines to name which technologies it is trialing. MobileOne also said it had decided against Wi-Fi, so if you exclude Wi-Fi and WiMax, the potential technologies MobileOne might be trialing could include Flarion, IPWireless, and Navini. But it’s hard to know how MobileOne might categorize any of the vendors who make fixed broadband wireless systems that are loosely based on either Wi-Fi or WiMax so it’s hard to know if those might also be contenders.
MobileOne has so far concluded that the coverage claims from the vendors aren’t turning out to be true, but its statements about that are also quite vague. The spokesman says that it takes 1,200 base stations to cover the island with a mobile service and that some of the vendors it is trialing say they can cover the island with six or ten base stations. The spokesman says that in trials, that number increases. I wonder how significantly it increases. Even if it takes 100 base stations to cover the island, that’s quite an improvement on 1,200.
Apparently MobileOne plans to take a look at WiMax later this year so it’ll be interesting to see how WiMax stacks up against some of the other technologies that the operator has trialed.
A company called WiMax Telecom AG said it has plans to build WiMax networks covering Switzerland and Austria: The company acquired a nationwide license (I would guess in the 3.5 MHz band but I’m not sure) for Austria last October. The company doesn’t appear to have licenses in Switzerland yet.
Unstrung points out that despite such solid plans for future deployments, apparently WiMax Telecom is still considering its options. It will start with two trials in Austria, using broadband wireless equipment that is available now. The company will also try a UMTS-TDD solution, which implies IPWireless or a company that has licensed IPWireless’ technology. While most new companies might decide to build a Web site before issuing a provocative press release, a new Web site is apparently on WiMax Telecom’s “to-do list.”
Nasion.Com is planning to launch a WiMax trial in Malaysia with Intel’s support in the second quarter: I would very much like to know what exactly Intel is contributing to its 120 WiMax trials around the world and how much the company figures it will spend on these trials.
While WiMax has been lauded as a low-cost way to roll out broadband services, in places like Malaysia apparently the cost isn’t low enough. The hardware costs are still quite high, according to Nasion.Com. Plus, the cost of the fixed-line backhaul used for each base station can also make the system cost-prohibitive. In many countries that landline can only be leased from the incumbent phone company which may charge exorbitant fees.
South Africa’s Telkom is trialing a broadband wireless network: The company has installed two base stations from Alvarion in Pretoria and a small number of customers are trialing the service.
Intel is collaborating on the trial. Intel is “collaborating” on a number of such trials around the world, including in the U.S. and Ireland. These agreements must be part of the larger Intel strategy to promote WiMax. It’s not clear how much Intel is investing in these trials nor whether Intel is taking part in such trials because operators aren’t voluntarily buying into WiMax.
Intel and Irish Broadband, the fixed broadband wireless operator, are launching a WiMax trial in Ireland: The first base station will be in Leixlip and will offer free broadband access for three years to schools and the library in Leixlip. Residents and local businesses can also be part of the trial.
As usual, it’s often not really clear what some companies mean when they use the term “WiMax.” Seeing as no certified gear is on the market, it’s hard to know if this trial won’t be happening until the equipment is available or if the trial is moving ahead with WiMax-like products.
Irish Broadband isn’t the only operator with WiMax plans in Ireland. DigiWeb, another broadband access provider says it plans to build a wireless network to be based on WiMax covering half of the country by early 2005.
Ireland’s broadband penetration is low for Europe mostly due to aging infrastructure. Wireless could be ideal for bringing access to more people.