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April 12, 2006

Samsung's 802.16e Rolled Out in Michigan

By Glenn Fleishman

Unstrung reports on what they term one of the most significant WiMax installations to date: The report says that Muskegon County will have WiMax-based broadband wireless service from Arialink Wireless. The company is financing part of the operation; state and federal grants are also involved. The base service is 3 Mbps for $18.99 per month, and the company will use Samsung’s early 802.16e equipment. The 802.16e standard incorporates fixed, nomadic (portable but fixed in use), and mobile WiMax, although there’s still a lot of work to be done to create a certified, interoperable version for general release.

The broadband firm will install base station on 16 towers along with 110 microcells on buildings and utility poles and use the 2.5 GHz band, which is largely owned by Sprint Nextel and Clearwire.

The article does contain the extraordinary statement: “Unlike other networks that vendors have called “pre-WiMax,” says Schreiber, the Muskegon system will be fully compliant with the new 802.16e standard.”

Pre-WiMax or WiMax-ready has typically referred to the 802.16-2004 standard (incorporating 802.16 through 802.16d) rather than 802.16e. And many of the 802.16-2004 compliant systems, including some that are now fully certified in the first wave of WiMax Forum testing, claimed full compliance with 802.16-2004.

Posted by Glennf at April 12, 2006 1:07 PM

Categories: 2.5 GHz, 802.16-2004, 802.16-2005 (16e), Mobile WiMax


Agree with Steve on the nomenclature. I have to emphasize the fact that, as per Steve's statement regarding the use of the WiMAX brand name, there is no certified mobile WiMAX yet and won't be until later this year. It's a misuse of terms to call this a WiMAX network if they are building in June of 2006 prior to any certification. I'd be willing to accept the term WiMAX-compliant or 802.16e-2005 compliant, but the misuse of this brand causes confusion, especially among consumers.

Congratulations on the network, however. It will be good to watch subscriber trends as this opens up about the time certified product might appear.

Posted by: Donna Carlson at April 20, 2006 9:24 AM

The various iterations of 802.16 are cumulative - 802.16-2005 incorporates all that came before, which includes "fixed" and "d" as well as "mobile" and "e". 802.16-2004 did not include "mobile/e" so that's why it's often referred to as "fixed WiMAX".

The standard includes a plethora of technologies (some incompatible); that's why the only way to insure interoperability is to agree upon a restricted subset of the standard that will be tested, certified, (and optionally branded) for interoperability.

Recall that WiMAX Forum, like Wi-Fi Alliance, confers the ability to use the WiMAX brand for a product that has passed interoperability tests. Unlike with Wi-Fi, it will be years before WiMAX gear will be purchased directly by consumers; until then the carrier will likely specify what gear consumers will need to purchase to gain access to a particular network... so "not-so-confusing" branding may not be a priority.

Posted by: Steve Stroh at April 19, 2006 1:02 PM

802.16e has now been incorporated into 802.16-2005.

[Editor's note: This highlights an odd point. Sure, 802.16 through 802.16d are 802.16-2004 and 802.16e is 802.16-2005. That's well known. But vendors and even experts often refer to 802.16-2004 as "16d" and 802.16-2005 as "16e" to differentiate them.

This is complicated by the many profiles that the WiMax Forum will approve, in which you will have different encoding (FDD vs TDD), different frequencies (2.3, 2.5, 3.5, 5.8, etc.), and potentially different behavior (fixed, mobile, etc.). So saying "802.16-2005" needs further clarification, too!

One hopes the forum might come up with a labeling scheme so that Fixed WiMax might refer to what is now 802.16-2004 or Fixed Profile WiMax could refer to fixed use of -2004 or -2005.

Posted by: Steve Stroh at April 15, 2006 10:23 AM

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