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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.
The WiMax Community (WMC) will try to harmonize WiBro, 802.16-2005: The latter standard includes fixed, nomadic, and mobile WiMax, like WiBro’s key focus (but not sole ability) appears to be mobility. WiBro equipment is already available, and there’s service in South Korea. It has quite a lot in common with mobile aspects of WiMax, and thus there’s been interest in having one standard, not two.
Twenty-two telecom firms from 16 countries have signed a memo to create the group within six months, including Covad in the U.S. The firms seem to include both competitive and incumbent providers, such as PCCW in Hong Kong (an early U.S. Wi-Fi service investor, by the way) and NTT Broadband in Japan.
I’ve exchanged some email with the PR person representing Covad, and they expect more information to be forthcoming.
The long-delayed first wave of WiMax certification should be announced in mid-January: Delays have been substantial and a large segment of the WiMax industry didn’t participate in this first wave of “air interface” trials, stating on the whole that they wouldn’t provide the kind of interoperability testing required by major telecommunications operators. Later waves will offer such tools, but companies like Alvarion are continuing to push their equipment into the field under the assumption it can be tweaked as needed or that vendors will simply deploy the current generation without worrying about later interoperability.
These delays are part of why many question the notion that 802.16e will be certified as a mobile flavor of WiMax and rollout into deployments by 2007. It seems much more like that 2008 or 2009 will see those rollouts unless the kinds of roadblocks that have pushed fixed WiMax back don’t exist or are eliminated before then.
This is not to criticize testing: In fact, it’s the hype that’s been the problem. It’s better to move slowly and produce equipment that works the way it’s supposed to. The industry is moving so fast, that interoperability has to take a back seat to sales.
Aperto says it is sending its PacketMax product to the WiMax Forum certification lab next month: Aperto also says it has successfully tested interoperability between its Fujitsu chip based base stations and Intel chip based subscriber units. This would be far more interesting if it involved the interoperability of products from multiple vendors. For a while a lot of vendors said they didn’t expect their first generation products to interoperate well, supporting all features, with products from other vendors.