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Group expanded to promote new wireless broadband technology standard

Communications component and equipment companies have joined a non-profit corporation, WiMAX, to promote and certif...

April 8, 2003  

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Communications component and equipment companies have joined a non-profit corporation, WiMAX, to promote and certify the compatibility and interoperability of broadband wireless access equipment.

WiMAX’s current members now include Airspan Networks, Alvarion, Aperto Networks, Ensemble Communications, Fujitsu Microelectronics, Intel, Nokia, Proxim and Calgary-based Wi-LAN

The group says its efforts will help accelerate the introduction of wireless broadband equipment into the marketplace that adheres to the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) 802.16 technical standard, speeding up last-mile broadband deployment worldwide.

The 802.16 standard, which the IEEE modified this January in its 802.16a amendment covering the 2 GHz to 11 GHz frequencies, is a wireless metropolitan area network technology that will connect 802.11 hot spots to the Internet and provide a wireless extension to cable and DSL for last mile broadband access.

It provides up to 31 miles of linear service area range and allows users to get broadband connectivity without needing a direct line of sight to the base station.

The wireless broadband technology also provides shared data rates up to 70 Mbps, which is enough bandwidth to simultaneously support more than 60 businesses with T1-type connectivity and hundreds of homes with DSL-type connectivity using a single sector of a base station. A typical base station has up to six sectors.

Today, a local service provider could take up to three months or more to provision a T1 network line for a business customer, if the service is not currently available in the business’ building, the group said in a statement.

With 802.16 wireless broadband technologies, the same service provider could provision the same speed of network access as the wired broadband solution in a matter of days and at a fraction of the cost.

With this capability, a service provider could offer "on demand" high-speed connectivity for events, such as trade shows, with hundreds or thousands of 802.11 hot spot users, or nomadic businesses, such as construction sites, that have sporadic broadband connectivity needs.

During the next year, WiMAX will develop conformance test plans, select certification labs and host interoperability events for 802.16 equipment vendors.

"Standards are critical, but a standard by itself is not enough to enable mass adoption," said Roger Marks, the IEEE 802.16 chairman. "WiMAX has stepped forward to help solve barriers to adoption, such as demonstrable interoperability and cost of deployment."