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« Certification, At Last? | Main | First Certified WiMax Products Announced »

January 9, 2006

WiBro at CES

By Glenn Fleishman

Samsung showed several devices using WiBro at CES: WiBro is an early version of 802.16e, which will be the basis for what is loosely being called mobile WiMax in the U.S. and elsewhere. Fixed WiMax is based on 802.16-2004, which allows for fixed receivers in a couple of long spectrum ranges, including mostly licensed frequencies but also unlicensed 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. WiBro has already appeared in South Korea with more to come. The devices are a bit bulky, and a representative at the booth told me that a WiBro phone doesn’t have much talk time, but couldn’t provide an exact number. They showed a laptop with a WiBro card, too.

Because WiBro operates at 2.3 GHz in South Korea, a range not available in the U.S., and because 2.4 GHz probably has too many limits, 2.5 GHz is the most likely band to be used, but it’s mostly tied up by Sprint Nextel, and is in the middle of a reorganization. The Samsung rep said that they were working on a 3.5 GHz flavor for Europe, but colleague Monica Paolini noted that that band would have propagation characteristics that were poor for mobility.

Interestingly, I couldn’t pin down the Samsung rep on how they were running WiBro in the booth, which they were claiming to do and apparently were. It’s possible they used 2.4 GHz at low power (because the devices were pinned to the displays, the distance needed was quite short).

Posted by Glennf at January 9, 2006 10:40 AM

Categories: WiBro


2.3 GHz in the US is problematic because it is interleaved with Digital Audio Radio Service (DARS) - Sirius and XM. Problematic, because DARS uses high-power TERRESTRIAL transmitters pumping out as much as hundreds of watts in urban areas to "fill in" areas where satellite coverage is marginal.

There are plans for WiMAX equipment to be available for 2.3 GHz - 802.16e / 802.16-2005 / Mobile WiMAX, but that is a distant second to equipment and deployments in 3.5 GHz bands (except for Korea where WiBro is already being deployed).

Navini will be upgrading all their equipment to Mobile WiMAX compatibility, even the equipment that operates in bands that aren't projected to have WiMAX interoperability profiles.

Posted by: Steve Stroh at February 1, 2006 5:28 PM

BellSouth has commercial deployments (real paying customers) using Navini Networks equipment on the 2.3GHz WCS band in New Orleans, LA; Gulfport, MS; Biloxi, MS; and Palatka, FL. MegaBroadband has a commercial 2.3GHz network using Navini equipment in Fall River, Massachusetts using spectrum leased from BAL/RIVGAM. Since WCS license holders can lease spectrum to other companies without going to the FCC, there may be other leased spectrum deployments that I don't know about.

Navini will offer 802.16e mobile WiMAX equipment for the 2.3GHz WCS band. A few other companies claim to be developing 2.3GHz WiMAX equipment for the US, but I haven't seen applications for experimental licenses necessary to legally put prototype equipment on the air for drive testing. Must still be in the PowerPoint stage of development.

Besides Navini, a quick check of the FCC OET website shows FCC certified 2.3GHz WCS equipment from BeamReach (out of business) and Soma (UMTS), but nothing for this band from Alvarion or IPWireless.

Posted by: George B at January 12, 2006 7:11 PM

The 2.3GHz band is available in the U.S. It is the WCS (Wireless Communications Service) band is mostly owned by Bellsouth, Coloma and some is owned by Comcast and Mcleod. A few manufacturers such as Alvarion, IP Wireless, and others have announced plans for equipment support in this band. NO plans have been mentioned as of yet for WiMax equipment to be supported in the 2.3GHz space. This year will be a critical year for these spectrum holders as their licenses are set to expire in 2007.

Posted by: Glenn Connaughton at January 10, 2006 11:09 AM

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