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.
Nokia demoed its N810 tablet with embedded WiMax: The latest version of their N800-series tablets will ship when Sprint Nextel’s Xohm service launches later this quarter. The current similar tablet runs $440, IDG News Service notes, but pricing for this model hasn’t been set. Nokia provided an interesting detail: they expect 2 to 4 Mbps of average speed from Xohm, with 10 Mbps peaks. Those numbers haven’t been talked about much pre-launch.
Even though you can’t use a mobile WiMax network in the U.S. today, analysts are concerned about the lack of hardware: The first production networks are slated to launch in weeks and months, and the Associated Press says only a CPE (home adapter) from Zyxel and a PC Card from ZTE are available. Motorola told me some weeks ago their CPEs would be available in small quantities at launch, moving to mass production during 2008; I’m not sure why they didn’t ramp up in preparation, and they’re not mentioned in this article.
A few laptops and tablet PCs will include WiMax, including the Asus Eee ($1000, 2nd half 2008), OQO (no date or price), and a Nokia tablet (sometime in 2008, no price).
Given the small initial audience that will subscribe, and the newness of the technology, it’s not strange to have so few items, but I would have thought Sprint would have ensured a few CPE models were ready. This article may understate what will actually be available.
Sprint’s strategy is to allow consumers to buy any compatible device and then pay a fee to use it on the network. Prices haven’t yet been set for network service.
A few days of testing with Clearwire’s new PC Card offering leaves me optimistic about mobile WiMax: While the card uses Expedience, the pre-WiMax offering that Clearwire’s former hardware division uses for all its equipment, I saw performance higher than using any other form of wireless networking except Wi-Fi in a fixed indoor location in my testing. I drove around Seattle and used the card in a car, with a booster, without, and in indoor locations. In most cases, I saw at or near the top rate. With the included external antenna, I was able to get over 1.6 Mbps downstream. Upstream rates are, as promised, about 256 Kbps or slower, and that’s something they need to improve.
With full-on, true mobile WiMax expected to deliver substantially higher rates for mobile and nomadic purposes, it’s possible Clearwire has a winner. Read my full review for how I expect that to play out and more detail about how the card works. (The review appears as part of a series of items I’m writing for a group blog on holiday gift gadgets.)
C-motech will use Wavetech’s chips for an ExpressCard format WiMax adapter, but only for older, fixed networks: This is the first ExpressCard WiMax adapter I’m aware of, but it’s only compatible with the older 802.16-2004 protocol, also known as fixed WiMax, which requires point-to-multipoint transmitter focused on receiving locations. The utility could be to allow nomadic access within a covered area as an alternative to Wi-Fi, but I fail to see the real potential here.
Nokia will offer tablet PCs with Intel’s WiMax chips in the first half of 2008: A big win for Intel, which has had little uptake prior to this in mobile phone chips, selling off their previous business to Marvell last year.
Monica Paolini, a WiMax industry analyst and consultant, advises manufacturers, operators to make it easy on customers with multiple devices: Paolini notes that as mobile WiMax picks up, an individual might have service at home, a mobile card, and portable gadgets like MP3 players with WiMax built in. Operators may want to maximize revenue by creating separate accounts and fees for each device. Paolini recommends setting policies that don’t discourage customers from adding devices, but also don’t allow abuse of accounts.
Manufacturers should make it trivial to add account information to a mobile device to add it to an existing WiMax account, too. While that might sound somewhat obvious, it’s not part of the ecosystem now. Devices use SIMs or other modules to authenticate to the network and establish separate billing identities in the system. That won’t be the case with WiMax.
Part of the rollout of mobile WiMax requires good end-user products: Zyxel will provide PC Cards and CPEs (adapters for the home) that will be bundled with Nortel gear. Runcom is working on phone and laptop integration. Sequans is developing more spectrally efficient WiMax, and Nortel is working with them for interoperability testing of their MIMO-based WiMax products.
Clearwire can resell the Expedience PC Card from Motorola: The card will offer 1.5 Mbps downstream and 128 Kbps upstream according to sources. Pricing hasn’t yet been set, but it’s likely that Clearwire will establish home areas and charge a monthly roaming fee to access out-of-metro-area services. The card is not WiMax, and you’ll note the press release talks about “WiMax class” products and networks. It uses the NextNet Expedience technology, a proprietary standard that runs Clearwire’s current network, and which was part of what Clearwire spun off to Motorola with the NextNet sale.
GigaOm rounds up the mobile WiMax devices that are slated for appearance: Nokia, early 2008; LG, one model for sale in Korea soon, US next year; Samsung, WiBro in Korea, no US timetables; ZTE and Zyxel, only general information.
The Finnish firm says it will have devices with mobile WiMax embedded by early 2008: With several companies competing for contracts from Sprint and Clearwire, there are now bragging rights to be obtained by having the first this or that.
The company says it’s the first to mash-up Wi-Fi, WiMax in a single platform: The company offers both 802.11b/g and 802.11a radios for Wi-Fi coupled with a fixed WiMax (802.16-2004) radio for backhaul. The WiMax radio, from the Tsunami product line, works in 3.3 to 3.6 GHz licensed and 5.1 to 5.8 GHz unlicensed spectrum. There’s also an Ethernet switch built in. The WiMax radio is certified as a standalone item, but the entire product needs new certification. The company says MeshMAX will be software upgradable to Mobile WIMax (802.16-2005).