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WiMAX FAQs

 
Frequently Asked Questions

What does "WiMAX" stand for?
"WiMAX" is an acronym that stands for Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access. What WiMAX is however at its heart is a standards initiative. Its purpose is to ensure that the broadband wireless radios manufactured for customer use interoperate from vendor to vendor.

The primary advantages of the WiMAX standard are to enable the adoption of advanced radio features in a uniform fashion and reduce costs for all of the radios made by companies who are part of the WiMAX Forum™--- a standards body formed to ensure interoperability via testing.

Where did the idea of WiMAX come from?

Much of the credit for the formation of the WiMAX ForumTM and the notion of the WiMAX initiative must go to Intel and other founding members of the Forum, which committed themselves early to the process of creating a collaborative standards body.

Intel recognized that for the broadband wireless industry (both fixed and mobile broadband wireless) to gain traction and wide acceptance that both hardware prices must decline and a consistent operating environment must be cemented into place.

The key point of launch however, had to begin with the silicon chip manufacturers whose chip products would form the core of WiMAX technology value and capability.

Other technology standards for digital subscriber line (DSL) service and the Cable broadband industry (the DOCSIS standard) have been responsible for driving those technologies to wide acceptance.
WiMAX itself is commonly mentioned in conjunction with the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) IEEE 802.16 working group, which is tasked with defining the technological aspects and features that will be incorporated into WiMAX.

The WiMAX ForumTM is a collaborative body geared to ensure compliance with the IEEE 802.16 standards and certified interoperability between radio vendors.

What is the WiMAX Forum™?
The WiMAX Forum is an organization of leading operators and communications component and equipment companies. The WiMAX Forum’s charter is to promote and certify the compatibility and interoperability of broadband wireless access equipment that conforms to the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) 802.16 and ETSI HiperMAN standards. The WiMAX Forum was established to help remove barriers to wide-scale adoption of Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) technology, since a standard alone is not enough to incite mass adoption of a technology. Along these lines, the Forum works closely with service providers and regulators to ensure that WiMAX Forum Certified systems meet customer and government requirements.


Is WiMAX new? When did it start?


WiMAX is new in terms of a standards initiative---and in particular the launch of numerous WiMAX technology supporting chipsets by Forum members. However, much of the technology being incorporated into the IEEE 802.16 technology set is existent in industry today.

A number of best of breed broadband radio manufacturers already offered various elements being incorporated into WiMAX as proprietary technology. However, vendors rarely offered consistent iterations of radio modulation and other techniques---ensuring that solutions had to be single vendor specific.

This means that much of the technological capability of WiMAX is relatively mature. In fact the radio vendors who are members of the forum have deployed equipment in over 125 nations around the globe.

The combination of these advanced technologies into a single standards package combined with new generation optimized chipsets and tested and certified interoperability between radio manufacturers deliver a robust and powerful technology with the inherent capability to match or exceed the performance and cost factors of other broadband technologies. This can all be achieved without traditional wireline tethers.

What is WiMAX technology?
WiMAX is a standards-based technology enabling the delivery of last mile wireless broadband access as an alternative to cable and DSL. WiMAX will provide fixed, nomadic, portable and, eventually, mobile wireless broadband connectivity without the need for direct line-of-sight with a base station. In a typical cell radius deployment of three to 10 kilometers, WiMAX Forum Certified™ systems can be expected to deliver capacity of up to 40 Mbps per channel, for fixed and portable access applications. This is enough bandwidth to simultaneously support hundreds of businesses with T-1 speed connectivity and thousands of residences with DSL speed connectivity. Mobile network deployments are expected to provide up to 15 Mbps of capacity within a typical cell radius deployment of up to three kilometers.

It is expected that WiMAX technology will be incorporated in notebook computers and PDAs in 2006, allowing for urban areas and cities to become “MetroZones” for portable outdoor broadband wireless access.

Is WiMAX Safe?

Happily since much of the technology being utilized in the IEEE 802.16 standard (WiMAX standard) is widely deployed in limited fashion today there is a historical body of evidence supporting the safety of technologies used in upcoming WiMAX and WiMAX products.

Microwave and other spectrum technologies enjoy over a hundred years of historical evidence of safety when prudently handled and configured. The amount of power allowed to deliver broadband wireless signal varies from frequency to frequency, however most are modest topping out around 40 watts.

While certain basic precautions need to be taken when onsite at communications towers (i.e. standing directly in front of active microwave links at essentially zero range) the configurations for public use are understood and safe.

Is WiMAX Technology Secure?

The short answer is yes, as never before with broadband wireless systems. However, this area appears to be early ground that vendors are staking out to differentiate their products and philosophies.
The WiMAX standard itself incorporates more, better and more flexible security support by far than the Wi-Fi standard launched with. It can be sometimes confusing when industry pundits and detractors talk of standards such as WiMAX and then in the same breath describe ways in which vendors will be "different" or that WiMAX security might be weak.

At first glance, these comments on the part of some vendors zealous to promote the added capabilities of their products can leave one feeling uncertain about the quality and reliability of the product. Security is probably a good place to explain the difference between the very robust base standards of WiMAX and the ways in which individual vendors can still differentiate their products (with additional and perhaps more powerful or convenient features) beyond the features that the base standard offers.

We will explain the base WiMAX security standard in the next section. However, what is important to understand is that it is quite robust. Perhaps more importantly, it allows for additional feature sets that could be added by various vendors to achieve security results as good as or better than any competing wireline broadband option even those being used for extremely secure governmental applications.

Typical residential service doesn't require the kind of security a bank, hospital or government often need. WiMAX can handle this. An example can be helpful here. Let us say that a broadband wireless service provider chooses one particular customer premise equipment (CPE) radio that has nice features and an especially good price for its consumer based offering.

These CPEs possess normal WiMAX security functionality which is at least as good as other broadband consumer technologies such as cable. It might choose to utilize a second vendor's base station to feed service to those radios that also possesses enhanced security capabilities adding an additional security overlay to the base security of the residential network consumer purposed CPE radios---particularly in the backhaul portion of the network.

This could add a small layer of additional support to radios that, while secure, could not feature enhanced capabilities due to the cost factors that consumer radio business requires.

This same base unit could also offer the company an ability to support an additional layer of radios for business or governmental or health care industry customers (where HIPPA confidentiality compliance is of great importance to us all) that actually have a DIFFERENT CPE radio that, while more expensive, possesses feature sets that take full advantage of extended security features that are commonly added to high-security government networks.

It does not detract from the network for perfectly serviceable residential class security capable (and inexpensive) radios to coexist with premium feature (and cost) WiMAX products on the same network designed to serve specialty customers. Similar add one products are used with wireline products but often require additional hardware beyond the modem.

What is the importance of WiMAX?
WiMAX, a data-on-the-go alternative to cable and DSL, is a standards-based broadband wireless access technology for enabling the last-mile delivery of information. WiMAX will provide fixed, nomadic, portable and, eventually, mobile wireless broadband connectivity without the need for direct line-of-sight connection between a base station and a subscriber station. In a typical cell radius deployment of 3 to 10 Km, WiMAX-certified systems can be expected to support capacity of up to 40Mbps per channel, for fixed and portable access applications. This is enough bandwidth to simultaneously support hundreds of businesses with T-1 speed connectivity and thousands of residences with DSL speed connectivity.

Mobile network deployments are expected to provide up to 15Mbps of capacity within a typical cell-radius deployment of up to 3 Km. It is expected that WIMAX technology will be incorporated in notebook computers and PDAs starting as early as the end of 2006, enabling urban areas and cities to become "MetroZones" for portable outdoor broadband wireless access. WiMAX technology has the potential to enable service carriers to converge the all-IP-based network for triple-play services such as data, voice, and video.

What does WiMAX Forum Certified mean? How is this different from “WiMAX compliant?”
As the exclusive organization dedicated to certifying the interoperability of BWA products, the WiMAX Forum will define and conduct conformance and interoperability testing to ensure that different vendor systems work seamlessly with one another. Those that pass conformance and interoperability testing will receive the “WiMAX Forum Certified” designation.

Vendors claiming their equipment is “WiMAX-like,” WiMAX-compliant,” etc., are not WiMAX Forum Certified, which means that their equipment is not independently certified to be interoperable with other vendors’ equipment. Only WiMAX Forum Certified equipment is proven interoperable with other vendors’ equipment that is also WiMAX Forum Certified.

When will the WiMAX Forum begin certifying equipment? Where will the equipment be tested?
The WiMAX Forum selected Cetecom Spain as its official certification laboratory. In July 2005, Cetecom will begin testing WiMAX Forum member companies’ products to certify that they meet WiMAX Forum conformance and interoperability standards.

The selection of Cetecom is a critical milestone on the path to enabling the commercial availability of WiMAX Forum Certified products. Headquartered in Spain, Cetecom has affiliate regional labs which will allow WiMAX Forum members worldwide to easily access the testing facilities.

Is the WiMAX Forum on track to meet its target goals for certifying equipment?
The WiMAX Forum has gained significant momentum over the past two years, particularly since mid-2004, when the organization established mid-2005 as the target date for launching the WiMAX Forum Certified program. Since that time, WiMAX Forum profiles were selected, the IEEE 802.16-2004 standard was completed, silicon manufacturers began sampling their products and the test lab was selected. The preparation of the test lab is the final step before launching the certification program. The WiMAX Forum is confident that testing will begin in July 2005, which is on target with the projections set by the Forum many months ago.

When will WiMAX Forum Certified products be commercially available?
It is important to remember that the WiMAX Forum does not control when products will enter the market. As an industry association, our role is to drive standardization and certification − we do not launch products or build networks. But based on what we are hearing from our member companies, we believe service provider lab trials could begin in the third quarter of 2005, followed by commercial trials in the fourth quarter. We are optimistic that networks could be commercially deployed by the first quarter of 2006.

When does the WiMAX Forum expect systems to take off in the marketplace?
WiMAX is not a new technology per se, but a more innovative and commercially viable adaptation of a proven technology that is delivering broadband services around the globe today. In fact, wireless broadband access systems from WiMAX Forum members are already deployed in more than 125 countries around the world. That said, WiMAX Forum member companies will be the first to bring standardized solutions to the marketplace, making broadband services more cost-effective to deploy on a wide scale.

What companies are involved with the WiMAX Forum?
More than 220 companies are members of the WiMAX Forum, representing the entire ecosystem of companies necessary for bringing WiMAX Forum Certified products to market, including equipment manufacturers, operators, system integrators, silicon and component makers, and application providers. For a complete list of current members, visit www.wimaxforum.org.

What are the benefits of WiMAX Forum Certified products?
The ultimate goal of the WiMAX Forum is to accelerate the introduction of cost-effective broadband wireless access services into the marketplace. Standards-based, interoperable solutions enable economies of scale that, in turn, drive price and performance levels unachievable by proprietary approaches, making WiMAX Forum Certified products cost-effective at delivering broadband services on a wide scale. Designed for carrier-class deployments as well as low-cost, license-exempt deployments, WiMAX Forum Certified systems will deliver high-capacity service throughput (up to 75 Mbps in a 20MHz channel) and will provide a range of up to five kilometers in near to non-line-of-sight conditions. The systems are scalable for up to thousands of users, and because they will be interoperable, service providers will be able to purchase equipment from more than one vendor, thereby reducing the overall risk and creating a price-competitive marketplace.

How will WiMAX Forum Certified products benefit enterprises? Residential users?
For enterprises, WiMAX can provide a cost-effective broadband access alternative. Since most businesses are not zoned for cable, their only option for broadband service is from the local telco, creating a monopoly situation. The ease of deployment for WiMAX Forum Certified systems can benefit enterprises by bringing new competition into the marketplace and lowering prices, or by enabling enterprises to set up their own private networks. This is especially relevant for industries like gas, mining, agriculture, transportation, construction and others that operate in remote locations.

For some residential customers in suburban and rural areas (where DSL or cable modem service is not available), WiMAX can provide the ability to finally have the broadband access they need. This is particularly true in developing countries, where traditional telecom infrastructure is not readily accessible.

What will the customer premise equipment (CPE) be like and what will it cost?
The first generation of WiMAX Forum Certified CPEs are expected to be outdoor-installable subscriber stations akin to a small satellite dish. These are expected to be available in late 2005/early 2006 and priced around $350. The second generation of CPEs will be indoor self-installable modems similar to a cable or DSL modem and will be priced around $250 and are expected to be available in 2006. Third-generation CPEs will be integrated into laptops and other portable devices, are expected to initially cost approximately $100 and will be available in the 2006-2007 timeframe.

What is the difference between IEEE 802.16 and WiMAX technology?
One of the main objectives of the WiMAX Forum is to create a single interoperable standard from the IEEE 802.16 and ETSI HiperMAN standards. This is achieved by the creation of System Profiles. Based upon what the WiMAX Forum sees in terms of service provider and vendor equipment plans, the WiMAX Forum has decided to focus first on profiles for the 256 OFDM PHY mode of the 802.16-2004 standard, which was ratified by the IEEE in June 2004. This physical layer (PHY) will be combined with a single media access controller (MAC), ensuring a uniform base for all WiMAX implementations.

Compliance with the 802.16 standard does not mean equipment is WiMAX Forum Certified or that it is interoperable with other vendors’ equipment. However, if a piece of equipment has earned the WiMAX Forum Certified designation, it is both compliant with the 802.16 standard and interoperable with other vendors’ equipment that is also WiMAX Forum Certified.

How many different standards are in existence for WiMAX today?
Currently, there are two WiMAX standards - a fully rectified IEEE 802.16-2004 fixed WiMAX standard and a yet-to-be rectified IEEE 802.16e standard.

What are the different standards of 802.16 – such as 802.16a, 802.16-2004 and 802.16e?
IEEE 802.16a standardization focused on fixed broadband access. IEEE 802.16-2004 enhanced the standard by providing support for indoor CPE. The IEEE 802.16e standard is planned to be an extension to the approved IEEE 802.16-2004 standard. The purpose of 802.16e is to add data mobility to the current standard, which is designed mainly for fixed operation.

When was the IEEE 802.16 standard approved?
IEEE approved the initial 802.16 standard for wireless MAN for the 10-66 GHz frequency range in December 2001. The 802.16a extension for sub-11 GHz was approved in January 2003. The 802.16-2004 standard was ratified by the IEEE in June 2004. The 802.16e standard is being reviewed by IEEE and is expected to be approved in mid-2005.

Will WiMAX compete with Wi-Fi?
WiMAX and Wi-Fi will coexist and become increasingly complementary technologies for their respective applications. WiMAX typically is not thought of as a replacement for Wi-Fi. Rather, WiMAX complements Wi-Fi by extending its reach and providing a "Wi-Fi like” user experience on a larger geographical scale. Wi-Fi technology was designed and optimized for Local Area Networks (LAN), whereas WiMAX was designed and optimized for Metropolitan Area Networks (MAN). In the 2006-2008 timeframe, it is expected that both 802.16 and 802.11 will be available in end user devices from laptops to PDAs, as both will deliver wireless connectivity directly to the end user – at home, in the office and on the move.

Will the WiMAX Forum work with the Wi-Fi Alliance
WiMAX Forum members are working with other industry groups, including the Wi-Fi Alliance, to enable seamless handoffs between multiple wireless standards, furthering the development of a cohesive wireless ecosystem.

How about the competition with 3G services? In Japan, NTT DoCoMo announced a plan to begin HSDPA service in FY2005, while 802.16-e standardization is delayed. The theoretical speed of HSDPA and 802.16-e is nearly same, so doesn’t this mean that 802.16-e has a disadvantage?
HSDPA (also dubbed 3.5G) follows the evolutionary path of 3G while WiMAX is designed from the ground up to become the disruptive force in broadband wireless access. It is true that 3G and HSDPA deployments will continue around the globe, but the sheer technical benefits (e.g., further reach, higher data rate, robust QoS, and flexible channel bandwidth) of both fixed and mobile WiMAX will enable WiMAX-powered networks to complement the cellular networks by extending their data reach further.

Another point is that the network build-out costs based on WiMAX are lower than 3G-based networks. This cost advantage will provide the operators an opportunity to offer more cost-competitive voice + data service packages to their WiMAX-subscribed customers. Naturally, the jury is still out on the future impact of WiMAX on HSDPA but judging by the buzz generated by WiBRO (the Korean version of mobile WiMAX), we should always be on the lookout for any dark horse technology such as WiMAX to appear and usurp 3G’s and HSDPA’s market position.

What is Korea's WiBro?
WiBro is an acronym for wireless broadband. Korean standards makers adopted the term to describe their initiatives towards adopting a version of the 802.16e standard. Basically the Korean standard chose to accept the mobile WiMAX iteration of 802.16e, rather than any future version that included backwards compatibility to fixed wireless 802.16 systems.

Korea enjoys probably the most extensive 3G deployments in the world already, and its fixed broadband access per capita is the highest in the world. What it saw it needed was an improved mobile broadband. In fact the Korean government issued the first three deployment licenses for WiBro in January of 2005.

This is not Mobile WiMAX, which will likely incorporate some methodologies to support the previous 802.16-2004 fixed broadband wireless standard. Since the WiMAX Forum has chosen to interoperate with WiBro this should ultimately result in compatible systems.

WiBro in many respects is driving the mobile side of WiMAX at least from the point of view of vendors eager to provide products to these early deployments.

What is Europe's ETSI HiperLAN?

The European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) formulates telecom standards very similarly to the US based IEEE. The HiperLAN standard was ETSI's answer to the IEEE 802.11. However, HiperLAN comes in two types.

The Type 1 which addresses the 2.4 GHz band and the Type 2 which covers 5 GHz frequencies. There are other variations, some administrative relating to European licensing methodologies. For more information see RTTE Directives. However, in broad terms HiperLAN and IEEE 802.11 are roughly equivalent.

Will WiMAX compete with ETSI HiperMAN?
The IEEE 802.16-2004 (256 OFDM PHY) and ETSI HiperMAN standards share the same PHY and MAC specifications. The WiMAX Forum is active in both standards organizations to ensure that a single global standard for Wireless MAN is adopted.

What is the difference between 802.16 and 802.20?
802.16 and 802.20 are two different technology approaches targeted at distinct markets. 802.20, however, is still in the very early stages of standards development and is not expected to be completed within the next two years. And because 802.20 does not have an industry support like the WiMAX Forum with its 150 members, interoperability is questionable and much farther away.

Will WiMAX be a Global Standard?

Yes. WiMAX is a Global Standard that will ultimately certify products that can be sold worldwide and interoperate with gear in the same frequency range and power range. It is important to note that different countries utilize different spectrum frequencies for broadband delivery. For instance the licensed band 2.5 GHz range in the US is also widely used around the world. However, the widely used international broadband spectrum range in the 3.5 GHz channels are not available in the US. The early waves of WiMAX products are not intended to function in multiple spectrum ranges.

What are the benefits of a Global Standard?

The best example of the benefits of a global broadband standard can be found in the early decision by European cellular carriers to adopt the global system for mobile communications (GSM). This standard eventually caught on in many regions from Asia to the Middle East and Africa.

It is in many ways the de-facto international standard for cellular service. This commonality of standard resulted in very rapid adoption of cellular wireless service as well as strong innovation and progressive product offers by carriers, ranging from using one's cell phone to pay for vending machine products to short message service (SMS) products.

In the US the relatively fragmented technology environment with three primary competing technologies has prevented intercarrier roaming onto disparate networks. It also resulted in higher costs for service and phone products (which have to be re-configured by vendors to work on various technologies).

A global standard simplifies the equipment vendor process, reduces costs, speeds customer acceptance and adoption and encourages faster product and service innovation.

How far can WiMAX cover?
In a typical cell radius deployment of three to 10 kilometers, WiMAX Forum Certified™ systems can be expected to deliver capacity of up to 40 Mbps per channel, for fixed and portable access applications.

What factors will most greatly affect range for WiMAX products?

Many factors affect range for any broadband wireless product. Some such factors include the terrain and density/height of tree cover. Hills and valleys can block or partially reflect signals. Bodies of water such as rivers and lakes are highly reflective of RF transmissions.

Happily OFDM can often turn this to advantage---but not always. The RF shadow of large buildings can create dead spots directly behind them, particularly if license-free spectrums are being used (with their attendant lower power allotments). How busy the RF environment of a city or town can greatly degrade signals---meaning that properly designed and well thought out networks are always desired.

The physics of radio transmission dictate that the greater the range between the base station and customer radio, the lower the amount of bandwidth that can be delivered, even in an extremely well-designed network. The climate can affect radio performance---despite this there are ubiquitous wireless networks deployed today with great success in frozen Alaskan oil fields. No two cities are exactly alike in terms of the challenges and opportunities presented. In many respects broadband wireless remains very much an art form.

However, this is also true for the cellular carriers most of us use daily. It can be done and well. Mobile broadband wireless will be more difficult. Achieving high QOS will be easier with fixed broadband wireless. Despite all of these challenges current broadband wireless is very effectively serving customers even in the most difficult environments.

What is the actual throughput (data transfer rate) of WiMAX Technology?

WiMAX supports very robust data throughput. The technology at theoretical maximums could support approximately 75 Mbps per channel (in a 20 MHz channel using 64QAM ¾ code rate).
Real world performance will be considerably lower---perhaps maxing out around 45 Mbps/channel in some fixed broadband applications. Remember however, that service across this channel would be shared by multiple customers.

Actual transmission capabilities on a per customer basis could vary widely depending on the carrier's chosen customer base, which is actually an inherent strength because it can be defined by QOS in a deliberate fashion to offer different bandwidth capabilities to customers with different needs (and different budgets).

Mobile WiMAX capabilities on a per customer basis will be lower in practical terms, but much better than competing 3G technologies. WiMAX is often cited to possess a spectral efficiency of 5 bps/Hz, which is very good compared to other broadband wireless technologies, especially 3G.
The modulation scheme whether QPSK, 16QAM, 64 QAM etc. (and their attendant code rate variations) deliver varying bandwidth capabilities by channel size. Like with most things wireless, the devil as they say is in the details.

The good news is that pretty much all of the news is good in this regard relative to other broadband wireless and wireline competitors of WiMAX. Many things affect transfer rate beyond simple radio capability. One major element being distance from the base station.

The physics of radio cannot be avoided. Longer ranges result in lower bandwidth delivered. Also, the spectrum range (1.e. 20 MHz or other) that regulation defines as appropriate for different frequency bands will dictate bandwidth capabilities at least to some extent.

Also remember that the RF and physical environment play a strong roll in throughput results. Essentially the real world blunts theoretical performance. Happily even with disclaimers centered around real world impediments, WiMAX throughput is excellent.

Which profiles/spectrum bands does the WiMAX Forum address?
The WiMAX Forum will start the process of certifying initial equipment in the 3.3 to 3.8 GHz and 5.7 to 5.8 GHz bands. These profiles cover both TDD and FDD systems. The WiMAX Forum has developed system profiles addressing the 5.8 GHz license-exempt band, and the 2.5 and 3.5 GHz licensed bands to get the market started. The WiMAX Forum is working with service providers and equipment manufacturers to expand the frequency allocation to cover all the key spectrum bands that our member companies identify as interesting to potential WiMAX service providers.

How many different bands (licensed and license-exempt) are there within the 2 – 6GHz RF spectrum?
The WiMAX Forum will start the process of certifying initial equipment in the 3.3 to 3.8 GHz and 5.7 to 5.8 GHz bands. These profiles cover both TDD and FDD systems. The WiMAX Forum has developed system profiles addressing the 5.8 GHz license-exempt band, and the 2.5 and 3.5 GHz licensed bands to get the market started. The WiMAX Forum is working with service providers and equipment manufacturers to expand the frequency allocation to cover all the key spectrum bands that its member companies identify as interesting to potential WiMAX service providers.

When will WiMAX deployment occur?
WiMAX is not a new technology per se, but a more innovative and commercially viable adaptation of a proven technology that is delivering broadband services around the globe today. In fact, wireless broadband access systems from WiMAX Forum members are already deployed in more than 125 countries around the world. That said, WiMAX Forum member companies will be the first to bring standardized solutions to the marketplace, making broadband services more cost-effective to deploy on a wide scale. The first WiMAX Forum Certified systems should begin shipping in 2005 and demand is expected to grow exponentially.

Will WiMAX replace fiber? If so, when will this replacement occur?
Fiber and wireless will co-exist in the last mile. Wireless deployment will grow significantly over fiber due to ease of deployment and lower cost. However, in the near term, fiber will still be adopted for mission-critical applications that require near-zero interference and latency performance.

Will WiMAX displace the existing landline and wireless technologies (e.g. WiFi)?
WiMAX and WiFi will coexist and become increasingly complementary technologies for their respective applications. WiMAX is typically not thought of as a replacement for WiFi. Rather, WiMAX complements WiFi by extending its reach and providing a "WiFi–like" user experience on a larger geographical scale. WiFi technology was designed and optimized for Local Area Networks (LANs), whereas WiMAX was designed and optimized for Metropolitan Area Networks (MANs). In the 2006 -2008 timeframe, it is expected that both 802.16 and 802.11 capabilities will be available in end-user devices from laptops to PDAs, as both will deliver wireless connectivity directly to the end user – at home, in the office and on the move.


Is Plugfest the only gating factor for WiMAX deployment in 2005?

This really depends on each company's business model. Some equipment vendors may not require WiMAX certification for their systems since their end markets don't require it. In any event, WiMAX paves the way for interoperability between systems and helps realize economies of scale as a result of mass network deployment. With the first plugfest scheduled in July 2005, system vendors who are eager to launch their WiMAX-certified products before the end of 2005 will be gearing up to submit their products to CETECOM in Spain to maximize their time-to-market advantage. CETECOM is the first test lab chosen by the WiMAX Forum to support interoperability and compliance testing of WiMAX-compliant systems.

What does NLOS (Non Line of Sight) do?
This "last-mile" market is, by nature, a Point-to-Multipoint (PMP) architecture utilizing Non-Line-of-Sight (NLOS) RF propagation. Millimeter bands are generally most suitable for very high-data-rate, line-of-sight backhauling applications (major pipelines), while centimeter bands are well suited for multipoint, NLOS, tributary and last-mile distribution.

What are the major applications for WiMAX technology?
A major application is backhauling the existing broadband access solutions such as xDSL, cable modems, and so on. In addition, WiMAX itself can be an alternative last-mile solution.

Where (which geographic locations) do you expect WiMAX-certified equipment to do well in its early stages?
We believe China will adopt WiMAX-certified equipment in an early stage, as will other areas, such as India and South Asia, where the communications infrastructure is not as developed as in the U.S. or Europe. There has been interest from organizations in Spain, Russia, Scandinavia and Latin America for the same reasons. And one of the early system developers is located in Canada.

Which region or country will be the biggest market? How about Japan, Korea, EU, and BRICS?
We have seen interest emanating from Asia, the Americas and Europe; hence, it is difficult to pinpoint a particular area or country that will drive the initial WiMAX adoption and growth. Nevertheless, countries with many rural areas and where their networking infrastructures are still in the developing stages will tend to benefit more from WiMAX. Bearing this in mind, it should not be surprising to learn that countries like China, India, Russia, Canada or even Brazil are prime candidates for embracing the WiMAX technology.

When will the first 802.16-e product come to market? And when do you think carriers will start their 802.16-e services?
This is a billion-dollar question. Judging by what we have learned from the market and industry so far, most semiconductor companies will launch their first 802.16e chips in 2006. Systems that will be based on these chips will follow after that. Needless to say, carriers and operators can only start their network deployments after 802.16e-based systems become available.
 
 

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