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3.5 GHz WiMAX Testing

Ball State receives FCC approval to test and deploy WiMAX technology

Other Topics: Cellular Mobile Unit, WiMAX Base Station Equipment, WiMAX Wireless Infrastructure

Ball State University
November 27, 2006

Muncie, IN -- The "wireless world" will be watching Ball State University's Office of Wireless Research and Mapping (OWRM) closely as it becomes among the first to test and deploy WiMAX technology in the United States.
Using a six-month experimental license granted by the FCC, the OWRM is partnering with Alvarion and Digital Bridge Communications to test WiMAX technology on equipment at 3.5GHz, a frequency used outside of the United States. Testing is being done at this higher frequency because there is currently no equipment available for testing at 2.5 GHz, a frequency that will be used to provide broadband services such as cell phones and Internet in the United States in the coming months.

"The goal is to find out as much about this technology as possible, and then begin sharing the information with others who are anxiously awaiting for 2.5GHz WiMAX technology to arrive," said O'Neal Smitherman, Ball State's vice president for information technology.

Researchers from OWRM are putting the WiMAX technology through a variety of tests in order to find out more about connectivity, throughput, capacity, signal strength and penetration inside the home under variables such as weather, trees, elevation and distance.

Smitherman says several telecommunications companies have already expressed interest in the test results because of valuable information it will provide in the future development of broadband services to more rural and underserved areas of the country.

"Through testing and deployment over the next 90 days, we will be able to examine the performance of the WiMAX platform based on the IEEE 802.16 standard, as well as have an opportunity to fine tune our GIS mapping capability using real data," said Smitherman. "This will give us the data needed to accurately predict and map signal coverage anywhere."

Digital Bridge Communications, a provider of broadband wireless services to rural and underserved communities, will assist the OWRM in the testing and deployment of true WiMAX technology. Equipment being used for testing comes from Alvarion, the world's largest manufacturer of wireless broadband. Afterimage GIS, a company that specializes in RF modeling, design and market analysis will also assist in the study.

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