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Freescale and Wavesat will work together to create a customer premises equipment (CPE) gateway for businesses and homes: The two firms combine reference design boards from Freescale with chips from Wavesat. Reference designs are licensed to so-called OEMs (original equipment manfacturers), which customize the products appearance and firmware, choose parameters, and job out the production, typically to electronics makers across Asia in Taiwan, Singapore, and China. The devices will first support 802.16-2004 fixed service, but be upgradable to 802.16-2005 for fixed and mobile purposes. That upgradability likely means a different chip rather than firmware. A note at the end mentions 3.5 GHz, but there’s otherwise no mention of spectrum.
DragonWave announces that EarthLink will use its licensed backhaul service: EartLink’s metro-scale networks will aggregate clusters of Wi-Fi mesh nodes through Motorola Canopy and pre-WiMax point-to-multipoint systems, which in turn will aggregate to high-speed licensed wireless backhaul. DragonWave’s system uses what they call wireless Ethernet that can offer a gigabit per second of service—up to 500 Mbps in each direction.
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.
Intel made their expected announcement of Rosedale II (not 2) today: The only unexpected news was the Roman numerals, it appears. Rosedale II will appear later this year, and sports mobile WiMax support, which is part of the 802.16-2005 specification, which differs from existing fixed WiMax (802.16-2004) in providing fixed, nomadic/portable, and mobile support. Rosedale II will appear in laptop cards first, and then later be integrated into the Centrino platform as a built-in function.
Intel apparently wants to position mobile WiMax firmly against Qualcomm technologies, such as HSUPA and HSDPA (high-speed uplink/downlink packet access), which is part of the GSM evolution. Intel maintains that the patent portfolio is more widely spread for WiMax, making royalties cheaper overall, and that mobile WiMax is more spectrally efficient. Spectrum issues worldwide need to be resolved to make mobile WiMax work outside of limited markets, however.
Important to note is that there are no substantial mobile WiMax network deployments to speak of, although trials are happening all over. The existence of these Rosedale II chips will provide the impetus for more testing and firm product deadlines, as well as an ultimate certification roadmap. I’ll be talking to Monica Paolini, an expert on WiMax, during a podcast tomorrow.
A license in California that Clearwire claims to have a signed contract for has jumped in value from $1.8 to $18m dollars: Clearwire is suing the Peralta Community College District because Clearwire alleges the district has broken a contract signed a few months. The district alleges that a side agreement was required and never provided, and thus it’s free to shop around. Tricia Duryee of The Seattle Times reports that an attorney representing the district said they “understood” that the value was now $18m. This is the only license Clearwire acquired in the San Francisco Bay Area in the 2.5 GHz range in which it intends to roll out its broadband wireless service.
The judge in the case signed a preliminary injunction preventing Peralta from negotiating with other parties (Sprint Nextel? BellSouth? None of the above?). The case could get underway before the end of the year. Given the sums at stake, I wonder if Clearwire and Peralta will forego the millions in legal fees and simply agree on a higher value for the license?
The stakes are high for the 2.5 GHz band: Clearwire has sued Peralta Community College District (06-03808 in the North District Court of California) because it alleges that Peralta has violated an executed agreement providing a long-term lease of a valuable license. Many 2.5 GHz licenses are held by educational bodies which were authorized several years ago by Congress to lease these out. The licenses were originally intended for educational broadcast services.
Peralta alleges Clearwire never provided a side agreement spelling out additional fees and such for the lease. I’ve read the filings and Clearwire’s case is based on their allegation that Peralta executed a contract that doesn’t state anything about a side agreement, and thus is complete and full. They also allege that Peralta is trying to terminate the agreement while also maintaining the agreement wasn’t really executed in order to sell the spectrum to another higher bidder.
Clearwire states that this license is the only viable, available license for the San Francisco Bay Area, and that they would use this license to provide service in Oakland and surrounding areas. The first of many fights, I expect, when billions are on the line.
In an interesting development, BellSouth will roll out more WiMax in several cities in the third quarter: The current equipment is pre-WiMax, offering 1.5 Mbps over 128 to 384 Kbps, but the future service should use full WiMax-grade equipment and provide 3 Mbps downstream, according to Multichannel News. They’re using WiMax to fill in uncovered urban and rural areas, rather than let this spots be cherrypicked by other providers. The deployments will be in Albany, Geor.; Chattanooga, Tenn.; Greenville, Miss.; and Melbourne, Flor.
The article notes BellSouth is using its 2.3 GHz licenses except in Athens, Geor., where it lacks that spectrum and uses some of its much smaller 2.5 GHz holdings. They’re using Navini equipment now, and will test Alcatel’s 802.16-2005 gear in the full. But they don’t expect to see a full rollout of 802.16-2005 equipment until late 2007 or into 2008.
I’d also argue that BellSouth is deploying service so that when their licenses come up for renewal next year, they have some investment in the band.
Wavesat and TI will develop a reference design for 802.16-2004 fixed 5.8 GHz mini-PCI adapters: These adapters are used for built-in components of laptops, but in this case, it sounds like they’re destined to be part of more compact CPEs (customer premises devices), or the bridges that receive WiMax signals. The press release says that this will handled the TDD (time division duplexing) profile for 5.725 to 5.875 GHz, which is a worldwide unlicensed band, and one of the first major profiles to be deployed. The companies expect to ship the design by fourth quarter, with Wavesat acting as the releasing firm.
Craig McCaw’s broadband wireless firm Clearwire raises $600m from Intel Capital, $300m from others: The latest revolutionary wireless firm founded by McCaw aims to deploy mobile broadband wireless worldwide using mobile WiMax (part of 802.16e-2005). Part of the money comes from Motorola purchasing Clearwire’s NextNet equipment subsidiary, which has been manufacturing and prototyping gear for Clearwire’s network, starting with customer premises equipment (CPE), or the fixed receivers plugged in at homes.
Clearwire owns the second-largest portfolio of spectrum in the desirable 2.5 GHz band in the U.S.; Sprint Nextel is the biggest holder. This is a great band into which to deploy mobile WiMax because of the geographic coverage—Clearwire says that they can reach 90m residents with current licenses—and the channelization, which is wide enough to allow sufficient bandwidth for real mobile applications, including video. (While BellSouth owns a chunk in 2.5 GHz, their biggest holdings are in 2.3 GHz. They are already looking at equipment that would offer WiMax or WiMax-like services in both bands. This spectrum is part of AT&T-formerly-SBC’s desire to purchase BellSouth, which would also give AT&T 100-percent ownership of Cingular, and allow more combined offerings there across DSL, cell data/3G, and WiMax.)
Intel has had a chicken-and-egg problem with its backing of WiMax, particularly the mobile and portable/nomadic form, in that they need networks to drive interest in the chips they plan to include in their laptop reference designs. By investing this heavily in Clearwire, they’ve basically guaranteed that a network will be built. This also seeds more interest in competing networks, and puts the cellular operators on notice that Intel is not their partner, if they ever harbored such a suspicion. In fact, Clearwire could offer competitive voice services over their network using handsets with mobile WiMax built in.
Intel is slated to ship Rosedale 2 chips by the end of the year, according to Light Reading, which will offer both older fixed (802.16-2004) and newer fixed/portable/mobile (802.16-2005) support. They’ll also make Ofer-R available for Wi-Fi and WiMax support in portable and handheld devices.
Way back at the Centrino introduction, Intel told me that future Centrino wireless chipsets would incorporate Wi-Fi and cellular data standards. That never happened. Instead, Intel discovered the wonders of a newly competitive marketplace that they thought could evolve worldwide in which they could have a stake and a say in its operation and standards development. Intel has been a big force in WiMax from many angles, this being just the latest.