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Monica Paolini files a report on trying WiBro in Seoul: Paolini, who runs the analysis firm Senza Fili Consulting, was able to get 500 Kbps to 2 Mbps performance down and 250 Kbps to 500 Kbps up within the coverage area. She could even make Skype calls on the 19th floor of her hotel, despite Korea Telecom promising only coverage up to the fourth floor. The network was quite busy with other users similarly testing the network in the same location. This is first-generation WiBro with single input and output antennas. Paolini predicts better performance when MIMO is added.
Paolini identifies a more salient factor in why Asian telecoms get such huge uptake on data services in general: KT is pushing user-to-user operations, such as messaging and video calls. They’re not stressing high-download, walled-garden passive content.
WiBro uses the 2.3 GHz band with an 8.75 MHz channel, which Paolini notes was developed as a Mobile WiMax profile for the Korean market.
The terminology kills me: Nortel says that a provider in the UK will use its equipment to deploy WiMax service in the 3.5 GHz band in the UK. But the licenses for that operator allow only fixed use. Rather than use the 802.16-2004 spec which offers fixed-only profiles, Nortel says its partner will use 802.16-2005, typically referred to as mobile WiMax—but which has fixed, nomadic, and mobile uses. (The band is owned by Pipex, which ZDNet reports said it wasn’t working with Nortel.)
There’s still debate over a dedicated band that would allow mobile WiMax, with 2.5 to 2.7 GHz under consideration. 3G operators naturally want 3G-related standards to be the only ones permissible in that band.
Intel’s WiMax Connection 2250 will support mobile WiMax: The chip is released with a fixed WiMax/802.16-2004 profile, but the company says that it can be upgraded over-the-air with new firmware to add mobile/802.16-2005 support. The trick, of course, is the back-end radio which supports three bands worldwide (2.5 GHz, 3.5 GHz, 5.8 GHz), and has to handle the varying requirements of -2004 and -2005 coupled with the WiMax Forum profiles. It’s a little complicated, but Intel thinks it’s a winning strategy to promote current deployments and future upgrades.
Nokia said today that they would offer cell phones with WiMax embedded in 2008: The company will offer base stations with WiMax in 2.5 GHz in 2007, 3.5 GHz in early 2008.
Zyxel will offer a mobile WiMax CPE that also supports Wi-Fi and VoIP: These subscriber units are designed to receive a signal and then redistribute service via Wi-Fi without requiring two boxes. An indoor unit, the MAX-200H, has a four-port Ethernet switch; an outdoor version, the MAX-300, is ruggedized. The company also offers a mobile WiMax CPE with a SIP VoIP port and a PC Card. The product will ship later this year.
Nortel packs MIMO, WiMax, and IPTV into one system: The company is making huge claims. They’ll deliver video content at 1/10th the cost per bit of 3G cell networks and offer three times the speed and twice the subscriber capacity of non-WiMax competitors. Their system will work in 1.5 GHz, 2.3 GHz, 2.5 GHz, and 3.5 GHz bands, making it available worldwide.
In separate, unrelated announcements, major WiMax players unveil their plans: Fujitsu says that they now have a strategy for the entire component foodchain of mobile WiMax, including not just chips and integration into devices, but deploying services and building backhaul infrastructure. As with many worldwide technology firms, their service division can deliver huge revenues by integrating their products for customers who need comprehensive deployments. Their new lineup include two base station models, both of which conform to 802.15-2005 and the mobile WiMax profile. The press release is heavy on positioning, but their plan is significant for the global mobile WiMax market. Fujitsu didn’t mention supported frequencies.
Aperto Networks, meanwhile, says that they have adapted their PacketMax architecture to handle mobile WiMax through insertion of a mobile WiMax “blade” (modular board) into a PacketMax 5000 base station. Their systems include management software for combined fixed and mobile (802.15-2004 and -2005) networks, base stations, and customer premises equipment (CPE) units. The CPEs seem to have the unique ability to operate in fixed (-2004) and mobile (-2005) modes—either optimally for one or the other. The press release is ambiguous on whether the CPE can receive in both modes at the same time.
Airspan Networks announced its mobile WiMax 3.4-3.6 GHz FDD, 3.6 GHz TDD, and 4.9 GHz TDD products. They’ll add 3.3 GHz, 3.4 GHz, and 3.5 GHz TDD in the “near future,” and will offer 2.5 GHz support in the second half of 2007—timed to Sprint Nextel’s major mobile WiMax push in that band (Airspan doesn’t state that last part).
XM Radio revealed that many of its ground transmitters are out of compliance: The company told the FCC that 221 repeaters (which are really very little different from terrestrial radio stations) were operating above their power levels and 19 repeaters were using out-of-band frequencies. The ground stations are a critical, often-overlooked part of XM and Sirius’s coverage requirements for their radio services, offering a boost to signal strength in areas where the satellite signal can’t penetrate, mostly in urban areas.
Because XM’s licenses adjoin 2.3 GHz licenses that will be used for services such as WiMax, there’s apparently some real anger, as expressed in this article. This article says that there’s little deployed in 2.3 GHz, but my sources say there aren’t a lot of users, but there are a number of deployments.
The FCC is evaluating what its response should. An industry trade group wants a full enforcement action to bring XM into compliance.
The broadband wireless firm Alvarion will offer two products for mobile WiMax in 2.3 and 2.5 GHz bands this fall: The two bands appear to be the prime contenders for roll out in the US, with Sprint, BellSouth, and Clearwire having significant licenses in those bands. (BellSouth and AT&T may be required to sell their 2.3/2.5 GHz licenses to complete a merger, which could open up even more possibility for those bands.)
The firm’s mobile WiMax chipset worked with Alcatel, Alvarion, Motorola, and Navini equipment at a plugfest: Beceem is working towards embedding its chips in client devices. Intel and Samsung are major investors in Beceem, which would likely lead to these chips being part of equipment delivered to Sprint customers for its mobile WiMax service next year. The chips are already used in South Korean WiBro networks.