The WiMax Future Could be Closer

By Tim Gray

May 31, 2005

The 802.16 standard considers all its options.

Mobile devices equipped with WiMax cards could hit the streets earlier than initially anticipated, research published today is predicting -- but the product may be more limited than advocates would like.

At least that's what ABI Research analysts are saying.

As the optional specifications built into the 802.16 standard continue to beef up the sensitivity of receiving equipment, WiMax PC cards and built-in receivers are becoming practical for many devices.

However, this first generation may not be as satisfactory as a fully mobile WiMax solution, but it still could be an advantage over current systems, according to ABI Research senior analyst Philip Solis.

"There may be WiMax PC cards on the market earlier than many observers have expected," Solis said in a statement. "These will result from superior chipsets permitting the use of WiMax in laptops and similar devices in homes and offices within the reach of fixed WiMax transmissions. You will not have full mobility as you will with 802.16e, but you will have some portability."

He also said at least two smaller companies, TeleCIS and Sequans, have been designing their chipsets to implement under-utilized options in the standard.

Laptops, PDAs and other portable devices are considered to be optimal equipment for the first-generation WiMax cards.

"Generally, these optional specifications have not been implemented by the largest vendors of WiMax equipment," Solis said.

What intrigues industry insiders is the potential that WiMax brings to a range of wireless options.

The technology supports high bit rates in uploading and downloading from a base station up to a distance of 30 miles. It is hoped by many researchers that WiMax will yield, among other innovations, high-speed Internet access, VoIP , and services to rural areas, commercial spaces and schools at a far cheaper cost.

Some wireless carriers and chipmakers have rushed to set WiMax technical standards, testing equipment and checking interoperability with other network components in hopes of laying the groundwork for new devices and services.

As reported by internetnews.com in May, Sprint and Intel teamed on products and services based on the emerging 802.16e mobile WiMax wireless broadband specification.



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