March 16, 2007
2006 was a good WiMax year; Nokia will install for Sprint in Texas markets; NXP's transciever does 2x2 MIMO for WiMax; and more.
2006 was a landmark year for WiMax, says Infonetics. Equipment sales revenue jumped up 286% from the previous year, to $549.2 million. The fourth quarter was particularly strong for both fixed and mobile WiMax. The latter was just getting off the ground, but still managed $45.8 million in sales; total of both fixed and mobile for the quarter was $226.5 million, 41% of the revenue for the year. Top product sellers were Alvarion, Redline and Airspan; top sales areas were Asia Pacific, followed by North America, then Europe/Middle East/Africa. They expect the market to reach $5.6 billion (with a B) by 2010, with mobile WiMax accounting for more than half of that.
March 14, 2007
Nokia will deploy the WiMax infrastructure for Sprint Nextel in Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio and Austin, Texas. They'll of course use the weatherproof Nokia Flexi Base Station at various sites to get full coverage by the first half of 2008 (during which Nokia also expects to have some WiMax-enabled mobile devices available). The press release states that Sprint expects to have 100 million potential customers for WiMax by the end of next year.
NXP Semiconductor (a Philips company) says its new UXA234xx transceiver chip has complete WiMax-based 2x2 MIMO (multiple in, multiple out) capability, "allowing for twice the data throughput and double the maximum speed of the company's existing WiMax transceiver." It measures only 6mm x 6mm x 0.85mm, making it suitable for putting the MIMO WiMax in handheld devices. It's sampling with customers now, and volume production will kick off before the end of June.
March 13, 2007
Towerstream's latest city venue: Miami, Florida. The fixed WiMax service, under the brand name Hi-Vi T1+, reportedly provides 99.999% reliability. The main point of presence (POP) for the network is atop the tallest building in town, the Four Seasons Hotel. This is the eighth city in the United States with Towerstream service installed; the company bought its Seattle service from Speakeasy earlier this year.
March 9, 2007
Trustive, MACH and the members of the WiMAX Spectrum Owners Alliance (WiSOA) claim they have the first "GSM-like" roaming agreement in place between WiMax providers, in a move they say pushes convergence of WiMax, Wi-Fi and 3G. As an industry group, WiSOA's whole job is to speed up WiMax deployments. MACH handles settlement of transactions for wireless vendors like T-Mobile, NTT DoCoMo and many others; Trustive is an aggregator of Wi-Fi hotspots and other wireless services. This will allow subscribers of one to roam openly on the other networks with WiMax-enabled devices. Trustive also has lots of roaming agreements with Wi-Fi hotspot providers across the globe like The Cloud and Wayport.
Remember when tech company IPOs made lots and lots of money? Those days are here again, at least for one company: Clearwire, which brought in $600 million this week selling an initial 24 million shares at a starting price of $27.25 (the stock finished its first day at $24.52 a share). The money should be going toward network expansion, as the company installs WiMax-based broadband service in cities around the U.S. Clearwire has lots of investors (like Intel and Motorola) and underwriters, but has yet to turn a profit.
WiMax provider Wisper Telecommunications (WisperTel) has bought out Path / Broadband Services, which provided wireless Internet in several Colorado cities including Arvada, Aurora, Broomfield, Denver, Golden, Greenwood Village, Lafayette, Louisville, Parker, Superior and Westminster. Path only had 200 subscribers on a pre-WiMax infrastructure, which WisperTel says is compatible with its existing network. The purchase sites are contiguous with the network WisperTel already runs in Denver.
CyberNet Communications says it has been providing WiMax service in areas of Los Angeles, Vernon and City of Commerce, California for a few months, mainly for business customers. They claim a 60% savings over traditional T-1 lines (which they also sell), and provide speeds up to 10 megabits per second.
Brazilian TV and voice provider TVA is planning a trial in Sao Paulo with MIMO-powered WiMax equipment from Nortel, in anticipation of a larger deployment to come. Testing will start next quarter using equipment in the 2.5 GHz band. Nortel will handle the actual installation and maintenance of the trial network.
March 1, 2007
NSR says in a new report that the use of WiMax in the People's Republic of China will continue to grow, from $130 million this year to $7 billion (with a b) by the end of 2012. However, it'll only happen if the Chinese government is behind it. They have a lot of sway, of course, over spectrum use.
Startup Beceem Communications will be supplying Samsung with chips to make WiMax products, specifically "terminals" that could be various types of customer devices -- you can bet they'll be CPEs or even WiMax-based phones. Beceem dubs its chips as part of Wave 2 of Mobile WiMax (802.16e-2005). Speaking of Samsung, SkyCross also has a design with the company: its antennas will be used in the SPH-H1100 and SPH-H100 PC cards that are part of the WiBro network in South Korea, the first commercially available mobile WiMax network.
Airspan Networks equipment will be used to build a nationwide WiMax network in Costa Rica. The deal is through the I.C.E. (El Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad) telco and its local partner Datatell, who worked directly with Airspan on the bid. They'll deploy using the 3.5 GHz band -- I.C.E. owns a lot of it -- and expect to eventually cover every major city in the country.
February 20, 2007
Clearwire spending money rather than taking it in? It's true. The company will use $300 million to buy out the bit of 2.5 GHz spectrum previously licensed by BellSouth; the company must divest it as a condition of merging with AT&T. It includes not just spectrum for broadband, but also Education Broadband Service (EBS) spectrum that can be leased to other operators.
India's Sify Limited has launched a WiMax network using Proxim Tsunami equipment running at 5.8 GHz. They've installed 700 base stations in 200 cities, already serving 3,500 subscriber units in the field. Proxim has had enough luck in the Indian market that it's opening a new development facility in the city of Hyderabad to spur things on for deployment and support.
The first step toward nationwide WiMax service in Nigeria launched this week at Port Harcourt. The WISP deploying it is Hyperia, using equipment from Navini Networks. The tech is mobile 802.16e running in the 3.5 GHz band. Port Harcourt is the "Oil City," with a high concentration of businesses, both local and international, working in the petroleum business. Hyperia says it wants to provide the technology to the masses in the country.
February 15, 2007
The first MIMO (multiple in, multiple out) WiMax-based phone call on record was apparently run recently in a lab test conducted by handset maker Kyocera Wireless, chipmaker Runcom Technologies, and infrastructure provider Nortel Networks. It's not something to look for anytime soon, but could be big in the future. They describe the tech as addressing "the requirements of bandwidth-intensive mobile applications with lower power consumption and without increasing network load and related costs for carriers."
If that's not enough, work has already begun on speeding up WiMax in the future. The IEEE wants to push the 802.16 specification to one Gigabit per second (Gbps), but still keep it working with existing fixed and mobile WiMax (if possible). This high speed would, naturally, be accomplished using MIMO antenna tech over OFDM, as was used by Nortel and company (see above). This high-speed WiMax will fall under the name of 802.16m. A proposed (and by some, pooh-poohed) date of completion is late 2009. (via Unstrung.)
Clearwire, despite picking up close to $1 billion in funding last year from investors like Intel and Motorola, still plans to go public this year to continue funding its roll-out of WiMax-based broadband in big U.S. and European cities. It will sell 20 million shares for as much as $25 each in order to raise $500+ million (Intel and Motorola, as investors, get a taste of those shares, per the prospectus; Moto provides Clearwire's equipment). No date is set, but look for it on the NASDAQ as CLWR. At the end of 2006, Clearwire service was available to 9.6 million people; it had 206,000 subscribers.
February 8, 2007
Azimuth Systems is ready to test WiMax. The company introduced a channel emulator for testing both single and multiple output/input WiMax this week. The ACE 400WB does real-time tests using a single box that emulates multipath in order to check how well a company's WiMax equipment handles it. The product even checks to see how SISO (single input, single output, or 1x1) products work with MIMO products. Azimuth will show the box to WiMax Forum members at a conference in Hawaii next week.
January 17, 2007
Navini says its demo of smart beamforming on its RipWave MX platform for Mobile WiMax is a first and they claim this is a next gen for Mobile WiMax, when everyone else is still on "Wave 1." They're demonstrating it this week at the Wireless Communications Association (WCA) exhibition and conference in San Jose. Navini's 802.16e equipment (RipWave MX8 with the smart beamforming) will be used by Max Telecom in Bulgaria, starting in the capital Sofia and going nationwide over the course of the year. The country has 7.5 million residents, who will get a fixed-price data service out of it with VoIP bundled in.
Fujitsu Microelectronics America says it's shipping its first 5.8 GHz WiMAX baseband system-on-chip (SoC) to equipment designers such as Texas Instruments. Fujitsu said last year it would work with Hopling Technologies on a joint WiMax baseband chip for Linux systems; that SoC is also shipping to ODMs in a reference kit, which will ship in volume later this quarter.
Aperto Networks' PacketMAX 5000 base station equipment will power the deployment by telecom Hellenic Telecommunications Organization at Mount Athos in northern Greece. Eventually, the plan is for a nationwide rollout. The telecom has a license for 3.5 GHZ use of point-to-multipoint service in the country, which it will use with WiMax as it upgrades from legacy systems.
Wavesat is ready with an Evolutive-branded reference design for an extended-length miniPCI card using the 3.3 to 3.5 GHz radio frequency for WiMax. The company has two other Evolutive cards covering the 3 GHz range, with 3.4 to 3.6 GHz available now and 3.6 to 3.8 GHz coming later in 2007. They all use the same Wavesat DM256 chip and MAC processor.
January 12, 2007
Motorola said earlier this week that it will be building out the WiMax network for Sprint Nextel in the Chicago area. The network will use about 1,000 base stations, and will provide complementary coverage to Sprint's existing EV-DO 3G network. Look for some service this year, with full roll-out in the first half of 2008. Moto will also do WiMax trials for Sprint in Herndon, Virginia. Sprint wants to have a potential 100 million "4G" customers in the U.S. by the end of 2008, with Chicago and Washington D.C. as initial markets. Other partners include Samsung, Intel, Nokia and LG Electronics.
Alvarion of Israel and Accton Technology of Taiwan have teamed to create a third company, Accton Wireless Broadband (AWB), which is based in Taiwan. The goal of AWB will be to "develop mass market WiMax consumer electronic devices in order to complement Alvarion's WiMax offerings," according to a joint statement. That means CPEs and other devices like PC cards and residential gateways. AWB will sell them to Alvarion, who will sell them to base station customers and to other WiMax vendors. The first AWB products, all based on 802.16e (Mobile WiMax), should come out in the second quarter of 2007.
What costs a lot? Energy. Specifically, the energy needed for a cellular carrier to get a signal to a customer. ABI Research says its the third biggest operating expense carriers face. The solution? WiMax, which is twice as energy efficient, 11 times if you factor in data traffic and metro-scale Wi-Fi, which is 50 times more efficient compared to, say, WCDMA. ABI's new research says the move to wireless broadband by the carriers will account for growth in kilowatt hours from 42.8 billion in 2005 to 124.4 billion in 2011. The study compares the juice use of WCDMA, HSDPA, CDMA2000 1XRTT, EVDO, WiMax and municipal Wi-Fi.
January 5, 2007
Nokia is the latest company to become a WiMax partner with Sprint Nextel as it rolls out WiMax "4G" networks in the U.S. Other Sprint partners include Intel, Samsung and Motorola. Nokia will supply base stations (Nokia Flexi), mobile devices including computers and tablets, and mobile applications for use by end users. It will also co-market the network. Sprint plans to spend $800 million in 2007, and as much as $2 billion in 2008, on its 4G plans. Initial cities planned for rollout this year are Washington, D.C. and Chicago.
January 4, 2007
ABI Research says that, despite expectations, WiMax has security vulnerabilities, and that will lead to a lucrative market for security vendors. Vice president of ABI Stan Schatt says the WiMax Forum's trumpeting about how much more secure early WiMax is than early Wi-Fi will lull customers into a false sense of security. The problems come in three areas: user terminals without the juice to handle AES encryption; edge of network intrusion detection and prevention; and a lack of stateful firewall software or appliances, or even RADIUS authentication, to protect connectivity service networks to the carrier's back office. ABI thinks most of the security will come from carriers and vendors working in partnership, rather than vendors simply selling the solutions directly to end users, because customers like things to be well integrated. Singled out as companies that can prosper in this field are Cavium Networks, AirTight Networks and Redline Communications.
December 15, 2006
Beceem says it's the first company to get a Microsoft Windows Hardware Quality Lab (WHQL) certification for Mobile WiMax chips. This means the chips are ready to work with Windows operating systems when embedded in a computer. Beceem believes major roll out of Mobile WiMax should be expected by the second half of 2007.
December 6, 2006
The city of Grand Rapids, Michigan, will be getting city-wide wireless broadband. However, instead of going the Wi-Fi route, it went with WiMax. And it also went with a relatively new name in the muni-partnership game: Clearwire. The company has installed a mix of proprietary and WiMax-based wireless broadband services in a large number of U.S. cities (about 30), and got a huge influx of cash from WiMax-loving Intel and Motorola for its troubles ($1.26 billion). The Grand Rapids network will spread over 45 square miles and will cost low-income residents only $10 a month; no word on cost to everyone else, nor on the price to get a WiMax modem/CPE. This is Clearwires first direct partnership with a municipality and as such it is going to do things it hasnt done before, such as providing wholesale access to other providers to sell broadband services over the network.
Intel is just about done with its first WiMax baseband chip. Coupled with the previously announced multi-band Wi-Fi/WiMax on a single chip, the two are called the Intel WiMax Connection 2300. The set was demonstrated at the 3G World Congress and Mobility Marketplace in Hong Kong, where a Centrino laptop with built-in WiMax, Wi-Fi, and even HSDPA-based 3G connected to a WiMax signal. The company will sample it in card and module formats to OEMs in late 2007.
December 1, 2006
Pyramid Research has a new survey out that indicates 78% of operators are considering investment in WiMax technology. 62% of them will do so as early as next year. 10% will invest over $100 million. The survey of 100 operators was made to see if WiMax can challenge 3G technology. Analysts at Pyramid say 3G will be dominant in mature markets but that WiMax can make significant inroads in high-growth developing countries.
In-Stat took a look at the Asia/Pacific markets turn to WiMax. Their take: it wont compete with 3G for another five years. But by 2011, there could be 14 million subscribers using WiMax. Devices to take advantage of it wont even ship until next year. Compare that number to the 130 million 3G users in Asia/Pac last year...
November 27, 2006
Starting in 2007, Alcatel will be using low-cost Sequans Communications chips to make new 802.16e which Alcatel is branding as Universal WiMax to CPEs that can be used in developing countries to spread the wireless goodness. Sequans says its SQN1110 mobile WiMAX System-on-Chip (SoC) has the lowest power consumption in the industry; it draws 350mW of electricity to deliver 10Mbps throughput.
November 21, 2006
WiMax is coming to Iraq. The telecom IRAQTEL will use RedMAX equipment from Redline Communications, integrated by IT company Vision Valley, to deploy in Basra and eventually other regions of the country for broadband and voice services. IRAQTEL says this is an alternative to VSAT networks, the only solution available for broadband there for a long time due to the lack of a copper line infrastructure.
The lawsuit between Sprint Nextel and Clearwire filed in July has apparently been settled, according to RCRNews. The suit was in regards to WiMax spectrum available in Seattle, Washington. A previous deal called for Sprint to turn off some WiMax spectrum so it would not mess with Clearwires signal, but Clearwire bought a stake in a company with a WiMax license that Sprint was working with, causing the suit. No word on specifics of the settlement, but considering Clearwire just announced a major push into the Seattle market, it's safe to say Sprint is turning off any interference once again.
November 16, 2006
Shortly after announcing a Boston-area roll-out, TowerStream now says its Hi-Vi T1+ (short for wireless High Availability T1+) service is ready for metro Chicago. $600 per month gets a business a high-speed wireless backbone to the office with promise of five nines, AKA 99.999% uptime. That translates to less than one minute of no connectivity per month. Hopefully in the dead of night. They do this by having two base stations for each connection, providing redundancy should one lose a connection.
November 15, 2006
The analysts at In-Stat think that the availability of WiMax Forum certified products means that WiMax as a technology is slated for rapid growth. 222,000 WiMax users today will grow to 19.7 million by 2010, mostly in the Asia/Pacific area. In-Stat expects it to see issues with growth where broadband already exists, saying underdeveloped areas are where it will succeed. Regulatory issues will continue to be a problem as well. The firm's research, part of a "WiMAX: 2006 State of the Market" report, says Sprint is the exception to the rule that most 3G carriers wont bother with WiMax.
Clearwire is launching in its largest wireless broadband market ever: the Seattle/Everett/Tacoma area of Washington state. The service is going to be available to a potential 2 million customers. Clearwire has service in 360 cities in the U.S.
November 10, 2006
TowerStream's "wireless T1" pre-WiMax service, with a guaranteed 99.999% uptime for customers, is now available in the Boston area. Previously, it was only available in New York City. They call it High-Availability T1+ (or HI-VI T1+, which looks like something you get from a pharmacy). Cost is $600 per month. TowerStream has two base stations in the city so it can provide redundancy in case one goes down.
October 12, 2006
Intel's new WiMax chip, the Connection 2250, debuted in Boston this week. They're calling it the first "dual-mode baseband" for WiMax, as it supports both fixed and mobile WiMax in a single product. The firmware upgrade to make the 2250 chip support mobility (802.16e) can happen over the air. The chip's first customer is Motorola, which is building it into a new, data-only customer premises unit, the CPEi 200 series. Motorola also has other CPEs including a CardBus card for laptops, using other chips -- but all are pushing 16e.
The phone side of Nokia isn't going to let WiMax slide by. The phone maker says it will have a handset using WiMax connections for voice by 2008. The company already has a WiMax base station for operators coming by the end of 2007 in 2.5 GHz and early in 2008 in 3.5 GHz.
Anritsu Company now has a handheld for testing fixed WiMax networks. The BTS Master tests base stations for various frequencies and technologies (like HSDPA and GSM/EDGE), checking things like spectrum, power levels, interferences, bit error rate and more. It has a big display (the whole unit weighs nine pounds) but is built to be durable. You can set up the options to give networks a quick pass/fail grade based on what the unit sees. The hardware costs almost $19,000 and the WiMax option is another $5,000, so you better really have a lot to test.
October 10, 2006
The WiMax World Conference and Expo kicked off today in Boston, and no surprise, the world of wireless broadband is alive with new announcements.
Aperto Networks announced a strategy to tackle the mobile WiMax world right around the corner. They'll extend the functionality of the existing PacketMAX PM5000 base station to support mobility. Existing customers have to install a mobile WiMax module, and they can then support mobile and fixed operation. Aperto is using chips from Sequans Communications.
Fujitsu's 802.16e (mobile WiMax) plans include "development of every major component in the WiMAX network" from the backhaul down to the devices. Right now, they'll start with two base stations, one for indoors and one outside, with multiple in, multiple out (MIMO) technology over multiple antennas. Fujitsu is in a somewhat unique position to make its own chips too, along with deep pockets, so that helps them spread the tech.
Airspan Networks will support 3.5 and 5.8 GHz frequencies in new CPEs and base stations, promising 10 Mbps in "a small, compact package" that includes Wi-Fi if desired. 3.3 to 3.4 GHz support is coming soon.
Wi-Fi and WiMax aren't enough? Nortel plans to build in VoIP and multimedia support with its "4G" products for carriers, again with MIMO tech on board with mobile WiMax. They don't go into specifics about products except to say they'll be out in 2007 and will run in 1.5, 2.3, 2.5 and 3.5 GHz licensed frequencies. They're building the equipment in partnership with Runcom. Nortel also announced it is providing equipment for a WiMax trial in Moscow through Russian operator Golden Telecom.
BelAir Networks, best known for providing Wi-Fi mesh networks for large deployments like campuses and cities such as Toronto and Minneapolis, announced a WiMax roadmap for this year and next. That will include modules that fit the BelAir100 and BelAir200 cases. They will support mobile WiMax/802.16e running in multiple frequencies (2.3, 2.5 and 3.5 GHz) for mesh backhaul and client connections. The company has had fixed WiMax modules available since June of this year.
Redline Communications will also pair WiMax with mesh, but by combining the Cisco Aironet 1500 outdoor wireless mesh network products with its own RedMAX AN-100U sector controllers and RedMAX Outdoor Subscriber Units, it hopes to bring Wi-Fi to the masses with WiMax backhaul. The company is also showing IPTV over its ReMAX products at the show.
Wavesat is working with Siemens. The latter's Microwave Networks Division is working with the chipmaker on making WiMax Forum certified products running standard fixed WiMax. They've tested Siemens' WayMAX@vantage base station with a CPE design using Wavesat's chips running at 3.5 GHz in a miniPCI.
ZyXEL launched a line of WiMax hardware including two pieces of broadband gateway customer premise equipment (CPE), the bMAX-200H (indoors) and MAX-300 (for the outdoors). Both support mobile WiMax/ 802.16e. They also offer a mobile PCMCIA card and another gateway that supports the SIP protocol for VoIP. They should be out sometime this quarter.
October 5, 2006
There's a chance that the U.S. government may require AT&T and BellSouth to sell off their rights to 2.3 and 2.5 GHz licensed spectrum before they can merge. If so, that could be a boon for companies like Sprint and Clearwire, which are looking to deploy WiMax in a big way using those frequencies. Israel's Alvarion is ready to take advantage, too, announcing this week new BreezeMAX products for North American carriers that support 2.3 and 2.5 GHz use with 802.16e.
Redline Communications says the use of its RedMAX products on 11 offshore oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico comprise the first WiMax deployment at sea, and the "first major WiMax network in Mexico," according to the infrastructure specialist company, AlanDick. The rigs are owned by Pemex, and are found 10 miles offshore of Ciudad del Carmen, Campeche. There's six miles between each platform.
Alcatel of Paris says it is shipping its first mobile WiMax/802.16e base station equipment, which is in trials in at least 10 locations, including some with BellSouth in the United States (they said today they'd open service this month in Albany, Georgia and Paducah, Kentucky, in addition to cities like Athens, Georgia; North Charleston, South Carolina; Melbourne, Deland and Palatka, Florida; Greenville, Mississippi; Chattanooga, Tennessee; and New Orleans). Alcatel calls their implementation "Universal WiMax," as it supports fixed, nomadic and mobile use. Alcatel has an "open CPE policy," where it tries to work with any vendor that makes customer premises equipment.
Chipmaker Wavesat says it is working with RF Magic to design a WiMax miniPCI module that will cost less than $100 for OEMs to build. It combines the Wavesat DM256 baseband and software with RF Magic's Magic Max multi-band transceiver and amplifiers. It'll support fixed WiMax running between 2.0 and 2.8 GHz. Wavesat chips are also being used by EION Wireless to make "Triple Play Anywhere" 802.16 products.
New WiMax Forum certified products tested at CETECOM include the StarMAX 4120 3.5 GHz Base Station and StarMAX 2140 3.5 GHz Subscriber Station, both from Telsima Corp. They support 2.5, 2.3, and 3.5 GHz. The company also sells a management system called TRUFLE to help handle "basic mobility" of client base stations so users can roam, reconnecting to the nearest base station while moving, even before supporting mobile WiMax/802.16e-2005.
September 21, 2006
Intel says it helped install a WiMax network powering a healthcare clinic, two schools, a community center and a university in one of the most remote locations on earth: Parintins, a town on an island in the middle of the Amazon River winding through Brazil. Population: 114,000. Intel worked on this with the Brazilian government as well as companies like Cisco, Proxim and Embratel, and schools like Amazonas State University, Amazonas Federal University and Sao Paulo University. It's part of Intel's World Ahead Program; the company is also training local teachers to use the network for education purposes and for telemedicine programs. The chip maker is spending $1 billion USD over the next five years on such projects.
The testing of a pre-WiMax fixed wireless network in Boone, North Carolina has been completed by IVI Communications, and is considered a success. Broadband was provided by IVI's AppState.Net subsidiary, and saw a doubling of their customers during the test, especially in multi-dwelling units (MDUs, aka apartments buildings). At the same time, dial-up users dropped by 60%.
September 19, 2006
The Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) licenses auction by the Federal Communications Commission has come to a close, and that means more 3G wireless coming your way in, well, just about everywhere. The big winner is T-Mobile, which spent $4.182 billion (with a B) to land 120 licenses for spectrum coving areas of the U.S. (including Hawaii and Alaska) and Puerto Rico, including prime markets of LA, Chicago and New York. NextWave Wireless didn't do badly either, getting 154 licenses (for just $115.5 million) covering markets like Pittsburgh, Puerto Rico, Indianapolis, Sacramento, New Orleans, Tulsa, Little Rock, El Paso, Albany, Louisville, Sarasota, Anchorage and Fort Myers but it wasn't even considered one of the top five winners. They include Verizon Wireless, MetroPCS, Cingular, and a consortium of cable companies (Time Warner, Cox, Comcast and Bright House) under the name Spectrum Co. It's all still subject to regulatory approval. The total amount raised by the FCC with this auction? $13.9 billion for 1,087 licenses spread across 104 bidding companies. In 2008, the FCC will sell off unused television broadcast spectrum.
The Kingdom of Tonga in the South Pacific will soon be covered by WiMax services from Tonga Communications Corp. (TCC). Using the BreezeMAX 3500 equipment from Alvarion, TCC will overlay its GSM network to offer wireless broadband to the 100,000 residents on 42 of Tonga's 170 islands. The network will cover 700,000 square kilometers (over 270,000 square miles).
Deutsche Breitband Dienste GmbH (DBD) of Germany will be deploying 400 base stations from Airspan's AS.MAX family of products running in 3.5GHz spectrum. The wireless broadband service will provide voice and hotzone connections for residences and businesses, mainly in Berlin.
September 7, 2006
Infonetics Research's latest WiMax and Outdoor Mesh Network Equipment report says that "radio access networks" (they call them RANs) had an overall jump in sales of 20% to $8.9 billion from Q1 to Q2 of this year. WiMax by itself was up 107% to $141 million. They expect RAN growth to continue through 2009, fueled mainly by the sales of Wi-Fi switches and controllers. Look for WiMax sales to go to $3 billion by 2009, with more than two thirds of the equipment revenue from the sale of customer premises equipment (CPE). 40% of that will be in the Asia Pacific region; North America will account for only 17%.
Clearwire, planning to roll out a huge deployment of WiMax in as many markets as possible (probably second only to the plans by Sprint Nextel) got more money to do so this week, another $125 million from investors Intel and Motorola. Add that to the previous $900 million influx, and the company has over $1 billion in capital to play with. Could a Sprint buyout of Clearwire come next? [via GigaOm.]
Linux software experts at Hopling Technologies will be working to make sure that WiMax reference designs from Fujitsu work under the Linux OS. Hopling will create a HopMAX product portfolio for base stations, micro bases and CPE products.
NextPhase Wireless is expanding its WiMax network plans with new tower sites to come in Riverside County, California.
Wichita Falls, Texas is the site of a new WiMax network from Xanadoo using equipment from Navini Networks. Xanadoo has a similar deployment in Lubbock, and will soon have another in Abilene. It's called pre-Mobile WiMax 802.16e in the release (it's Navini's Smart WiMax brand of products, including "wireless modem," that are upgradeable to 16e). The company says a user can access it at home, work or cafes in the city. Cost varies, starting at $15 a month for 128Kbps downloads, up to a $40-a-month 1.5Mbps plan.
August 30, 2006
Navini's pre-WiMax Ripwave MX equipment is being used in the WisperHotzone "hotspot in a box" from Liberty Technologies, coupling the wireless broadband with a Wi-Fi access point to get "metropolitan hotzones" deployed as fast as possible. They've tried it in Panama City, Panama. Ripwave products will also power a network run by Internet Ghana, the first mobile WiMax upgradeable network planned for the African continent in, of course, Ghana, a country of 22 million. They'll start in the capital of Accra and the ten largest cities including Kumasi, Tem and Tamale.
The Japanese island of Okinawa may be getting an extensive wireless broadband system from NTT West-Okinawa (a subsidiary of NTT West), using Alvarion's BreezeACCESS VL system. The equipment provides non-line-of-sight connections up to 19 miles running in the 5GHz band.
August 23, 2006
20 cities in Poland will be getting WiMax service. Alvarion's BreezeMAX 3600 products running in the 3.6 to 3.8 GHz bands will be used by provider Netia for the deployment. Alvarion equipment will also be put to use by WiMAX Telecom AG, an owner of 3.5 GHz spectrum, in networks in Austria and Slovakia.
Nothing goes together quite like wireless broadband and the Bard, so it's good to see AirTegrity Wireless has donated a solar-powered pre-WiMax system to the Sand Harbor State Park in Nevada, home of the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival. They claim it's one of the highest elevation WiMax-esque deployments yet, at an elevation of 8,000 feet above sea level in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. AirTegrity's WiMAX-In-A-Box system is not certified yet with the WiMax Forum, thus the "pre-WiMax" moniker.
August 4, 2006
Veracruz and Aguascalientes, Mexico are getting some (pre-mobile) WiMax connections. Ultranet2go (a division of ZOMA Telecom) is installing "Smart WiMax" equipment from Navini Networks; they already have Navini Ripwave MX products in place in Puebla. Ultranet2go plans future deployments in Pico, Matamoros, Xalapa, Coatzacoalcos, Cuernavaca, Chilpancingo and Iguala.
August 1, 2006
Alvarion is happy to report that Alvarion is number one! The company announced that Sky Light Research says the Alvarion BreezeMAX system has been installed 180 times in 80 countries, which amounts to 81% of the WiMax market as of the end of 2005. Alvarion shipped BreezeMAX before WiMax was even a done deal, in June 2004.
Trango Broadband Wireless will be getting into the WiMax business: the company plans to build products using chips from Wavesat. They expect the first Trango Next Generation WiMax series products to ship in the first quarter of 2007.
July 25, 2006
This week, Intel took the wraps off of Rosedale II, the chip that will support mobile WiMax (and default back to straight-up fixed 802.16 as needed). It is sampling with companies like Alcatel, Aperto, Airspan, Alvarion, Proxim and Navini. Ofer-R, the chip that will run CPEs while supporting WiMax as well as Wi-Fi for client connections, will soon follow. The company is already making plans for Rosedale III for sometime in 2008, and eventually will replace Wi-Fi with WiMax in Centrino chipsets for laptops.
Aperto says it has shipped certified WiMax equipment under the PacketMAX brand to Avalcom, a reseller and system integrator located in Russia. They've got a dozen or more service providers ready to start pilot projects that will range from residential access to corporate use in all geographic areas. In Moscow, Infoseti is the ISP ready to set up the equipment; they previously deployed Aperto's PacketWAVE pre-WiMax hardware there.
Motorola will be testing WiMax in a network in Tokyo along with Softbank Group -- the network includes base stations and even prototype WiMax devices. The trial starts in September.
In-Stat says the Asia Pacific region is helping push the WiMax industry. The market is valued at $106.4 million US for 2006, but will shoot to $4.3 billion (with a b) by 2011. At least 13 countries have WiMax trials going on.
July 21, 2006
picoChip says it has partnered with Korea Telecom (KT) to make femtocells base stations that are smaller than picocells, used as a residential WiMax access point of sorts that will work with WiBro-branded deployments in South Korea. WiBro is based on the 802.16e-2005 (mobile WiMAX) standard, even though that standard is not yet set for testing by the industry consortium WiMax Forum. They'll build equipment using the picoChip PC20x family of multi-core digital signal processors (DSPs).
July 13, 2006
Sequans Communications of France is ready to ship mobile WiMax silicon Sequans' SQN1110 system-on-chip (SoC) for testing by customers. It fully supports 802.16e-2005, the standard approved late last year and the company claims that its test have exceeded expectations. They also expect it to get full WiMax Certification from the WiMax Forum, which is currently testing only for fixed solutions.
Just because you get close to a billion bucks in funding doesn't mean you want to be taken advantage of. According to the Wall Street Journal, Clearwire filed a lawsuit last month against the Peralta Community College District because it wants to sell its license for 2.5GHz radio spectrum in the San Francisco Bay area spectrum Clearwire leases. Clearwire says it needs that band of waves to provide service there, and by extension, the rest of the country.
Ecuador's PuntoNet ISP will be using WiMax equipment (and some pre-WiMax equipment) from Airspan Networks to create an end-to-end network there. It already has some Airspan WipLL equipment set up in Quito, Guayaquil, Cuenca and Santo Domingo, but "will use the WiMAX network both to extend the reach of the initial wireless networks and to add VoIP capabilities" according to a statement.
July 10, 2006
WiMax runs in a number of different radio frequencies, some unlicensed and some requiring money (frequently, you'll see it using 3.5GHz). One of the unlicensed bands is 5.8GHz, and to make it easier for equipment makers to use it, Wavesat and Texas Instruments are releasing a reference design for WiMax running on a miniPCI module that original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) can duplicate and drop into their products, usually CPEs to go inside a home or business. It will use the Wavesat Evolutive WiMax DM256 chip with TI's digital signal processors (DSPs). They promise 37.5 Megabit per second (Mbps) throughput.
After six years of waiting, Adaptix says it has been granted US Patent #7,072,315, entitled "Medium Access Control for Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access (OFDMA) Cellular Networks." They say this patent includes traffic on mobile WiMax (802.16e) networks -- and they say this puts them in the unique position of owning their base technology, unlike many other mobile WiMax equipment vendors. It's not clear, though, how much of this may be covered by the 802.16e standard process, which usually requires members with such patents to allow for the use of the technology in question under reasonable and non-discriminatory (RAND) terms.
Airband Communications is expanding pre-WiMax services in another community, this time in San Antonio, Texas. Their first base station there is up and running, with coverage reaching 5,000 businesses (they don't do consumers) around the city's Medical Center. Eventually, the company will expand coverage to downtown and the airport.
June 28, 2006
More and more vendors are claiming 802.16e-2005 that's Mobile WiMax is supported, in some fashion, in their latest products. Alvarion says interoperability tests show its new 4Motion BreezeMAX base stations, due in the "near future," will work with 802.16e products from third parties. They expect to sell not just base stations for 4Motion, but also indoor modem CPEs and even laptop PC Cards. Adaptix has new third-gen base stations (the BX-3000) and mobile terminals (SX series) that are designed for "micro-cell" footprints. Cost will be as much as $40,000 for a micro base station, but should drop rapidly as .16e proliferates. And last but never least, Intel says its Rosedale 2 chipset, meant for CPE devices, will support both fixed WiMax and mobile WiMax modes. They're looking at base station chips, and may even have a product with both WiMax and Wi-Fi on the same silicon.
Navini Networks says it will use the 2.3GHz band for its "pre-mobile" WiMax Ripwave MX products (most WiMax runs in licensed frequency bands). 2.3GHz is expected to be big in various countries such as Curacao, Singapore, Panama, and even in the United States (U.S. Meganet is using it in Massachusetts with Navini products).
BellSouth also uses licensed 2.3GHz spectrum for its proprietary Wireless Broadband Service, which will deploy soon in areas of Melbourne, Florida; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Greenville, Mississippi; Charleston, South Carolina; and Albany, Georgia. They're planning to do some trials of WiMax using Alcatel's Evolium products next quarter.
Airspan Networks has new equipment for cities to combine fixed WiMax backhaul with Wi-Fi. The AS.MAX MicroMAX base station runs in 5.8GHz for backhaul, but also uses the 4.9GHz spectrum for use by public safety. The ProST Wi-Fi Access point connects to the base via 5.8 or 4.9GHz for backhaul, but has Wi-Fi built in for client connections via 802.11b/g. The base station has two versions, either with a software-defined radio (SDR) that's upgradeable to Mobile WiMax, or with a less expensive fixed WiMax system-on-a-chip (SoC) inside. They should all ship in the third quarter of 2006. (Airspan products are going to also be sold by Fujitsu Network Communications in North America.)
Taiwan's Chunghwa Telecom is using Redline Communications' RedMAX products the Base Station (AN-100U) and Outdoor Subscriber Unit (SU-O) to create WiMax connections. In turn, they power Wi-Fi hotzones in urban centers throughout the country. The city of Taipei has a Wi-Fi based mesh network called WiFly, installed by Q-Ware using Nortel equipment. The New York Times recently said it was under-used, as only 40,000 out of 2.6 million residents have signed up to try it that's 0.01% of the population. The cost is $12.50 a month. Nortel is also working with Chunghwa Telecom, deploying WiMax at National Taiwan University.
June 19, 2006
Remember 802.20? A standard at work in the IEEE, it was supposed to supply much the same technology as 802.16e (mobile WiMax). I say "was," because the Wall Street Journal reports that the 802.20 group has suspended activities after Intel engineers complained about corporate maneuvering and voting blocks in committees. Intel, of course, wants WiMax to flourish. On the 802.20 side was Qualcomm who apparently was paying the 802.20 chairman because .20 would have been based on tech Qualcomm got when it bought Flarion last summer. Qualcomm told the WSJ it is committed to .20 and the standards process.
June 15, 2006
Navini Networks says it will release software by December of this year to upgrade its Ripwave MX line of CPEs and base stations from today's fixed WiMax to the 802.16e Mobile WiMax standard. December is when the 16e Wave-1 certification should take place, if all goes according to plan. The company is pairing the mobile WiMax with a "smart beam forming" technology to hype it under the name "Smart WiMax".
June 14, 2006
Fixed wireless broadband provider airBand Communications says its network in Phoenix, Arizona has added an 11th pre-WiMax base station in the West Valley, providing service to an additional 2,000 potential business customers. They've had service of some sort in the area for five years now, and promise 100 percent uptime to customers.
With new HSDPA networks finally going live to give EV-DO and even WiMax a run for their money in the mobile wireless broadband arena, London-based analysts at visiongain say it's time for carriers to carefully consider what they want to achieve. HSDPA, they say, "does not come without costs or risks." Being faster, they say, in and of itself, doesn't make things better for users. 29 HSDPA networks were live by May, and 32 more are in the works for this year across the globe. Their full report with HSDPA market analysis is available for £999.
Texas Instruments is working with Tata Elxsi to make a mobile WiMax system design, complete with integrated MAC/PHY processing, to sell to original equipment manufacturers. It will feature three TI digital signal processors (DSPs) with Mercury Computer's MTI-203 Advanced Mezzanine Card (AMC) for WiMax. It works with enough cards and chassis designs to "mix and match" different kinds of architectures.
June 5, 2006
ZyXEL Communications is the latest company to join the WiMax equipment bandwagon. The company says its new CPE and notebook PC Card will support 802.16e, the mobile version of WiMax (not yet ratified, not that that's stopping anyone). CPE will be the MAX-200, which will serve as a home router on the residential side of a WiMax connection (and has a built-in SIP-based VoIP ATA port); the MAX-100 card does the same for individual laptop users. They'll run in 2.3, 2.5, and 3.5 GHz bands. Prices weren't announced, but ZyXEL says they're available now.
New WiMax emulation from Spirent is in the SR5500 Wireless Channel Emulator. It will test for performance of WiMax products by emulating real-world multipath interference conditions. It supports both fixed and mobile WiMax modes in 2.5, 3.5 and 5.8GHz bands.
Motorola Canopy, part of the MOTOwi4 line along with WiMax and mesh backhaul equipment, will now support the Prizm 2.0 network management software platform software that will support the entire MOTOwi4 line eventually. Services are migrated to where they need to go on a network using Prizm's floating software licenses feature, a "pay-as-you-grow business model" for providers so they can have low-level equipment running at, say, 512Kbps get upgrades through Prizm to higher speeds all the way to 7Mbps. Prizm is out now, but Canopy Lite upgrade licenses won't come out until the third quarter.
June 2, 2006
Infonetics Research of London says sales of WiMax equipment in the first quarter of this year were at $68.3 million, a 48 percent surge, due mostly to new availability of WiMax customer premises units (CPEs), which made up 62 percent of the revenue. They expect it will only get better as WiMax moves from fixed to mobile; revenue by 2009 is forecast at $1.7 billion. Europe, the Middle East and Africa lead the WiMax sales with 30 percent of the market, followed by North America and Asia-Pacific, each with 26 percent.
May 31, 2006
Frost & Sullivan analysts say that WiMax is responsible for invigorating the stagnant broadband wireless access market in the Asia Pacific region. They say the market there could be at $65.3 million US by the end of 2006, and $5.4 billion in four years. They expect the lack of infrastructure there not only helps the WiMax growth potential, but also makes it a perfect testbed to see how viable the technology really is. There are likely to still be deployment issues in areas where 3G has a strong commitment, however.
Wi-LANs IP in the world of WiMax now belongs to former partner Fujitsu Microelectronics America. That includes anything related to chips (MAC and baseband) for 802.16-2004 (fixed WiMax). In fact, the company got so much tech and new employees that it has formed a new subsidiary, Fujitsu Microelectronics Canada.
May 25, 2006
More Access Service Network (ASN) Gateways a requirement for Mobile WiMax are coming. The latest is from Flextronics Software Systems, called the SigASN. It will let equipment makers get an ASN Gateway built fast for new equipment to support 802.16e. (This joins other ASN Gateways like that planned by Airvana, which just joined the WiMax Forum as well.)
Bridgewater Systems is testing its policy management and authentication platform with several WiMax vendors, specifically with plans to offer it as a solution to providers supporting 802.16e (Mobile WiMax). Their policy management is used by the likes of Sprint PCS and Verizon Wireless today. Bridgewater supports extensible authentication protocol (EAP) for authenticating users and devices.
The big United States DSL provider Covad has joined with providers like KT and TeleKom Malaysia to form the WiBro and Mobile WiMAX Community (WMC), a consortium meant to promote interoperability and further deployment of WiBro. Covad also belongs to the WiMax Forum, which you'd think would be doing pretty much the same thing, but WMC probably doesn't want to wait for 802.16e to be a finished standard, since that takes too long.
SR Telecom is the latest company to get WiMax Forum certification for 802.16, specifically on SR's licensed OFDM technology called symmetry MX. This all but guarantees that licensors of the tech will get a passing grade from the Forum when tested.
Redline Communications will have a new, compact indoor subscriber unit, the RedMAX SU-I, out later this year. It is user installable and can take software upgrades as WiMax technology matures. It will feature an integrated diversity antenna that can be taken off so you can mount it on a window or a wall.
May 23, 2006
Air Broadband Communications makes equipment for both WiMax/802.16 and Wi-Fi/802.11. Today, the company said the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has granted it U.S. Patent No. 7,016,682, Hybrid Wireless Access Bridge and Mobile Access Router System and Method, which spells out how it uses Soft-Roaming, a way to seamlessly hand off from Wi-Fi network to WiMax network and vice versa (and covers roaming to other types of radio networks, like CDMA, as well). The company has six other patents in with the USPTO.
Intel still loves that WiMax. The investment capital arm of the company put money into two WiMax companies this week, Orascom Telecom WiMAX Limited of Egypt, and Worldmax in the Netherlands. Orascom is working with Middle Eastern governments and businesses to try and make sure spectrum for WiMax deployments is made available. Worldmax (a joint venture of Intel and Enertel Holdings) is trying to get WiMax deployed in the Netherlands using Enertel's 3.5GHz spectrum license.
Navini Networks says its Ripwave MX BTS, which came out last year, is now software-upgradeable to 802.16e, the mobile WiMax tech (not yet ratified by the IEEE, not that that stops anyone). The MX BTS running in 3.5GHz spectrum and more frequencies will be announced soon. The product will continue to use the company's Smart Beamforming technology, even with the WiMax standards.
Where's the best market for new WiMax deployments? According to research firm Maravedis, it's Russia. Their latest report goes into why the Russian Federation's current market and regulations make it great, as the demand for telecommunications is ahead of supply from the current wired infrastructure there's as many as 50,000 Russian towns and villages with no communications. There's a shortage of spectrum available, however, and they say WiMax won't take off until the 2GHz range is made available.
On display at the WiMax World Europe show this week in Austria: picoChip's first 802.16e/Mobile WiMax reference design; Motorola's MOTOwi4 product portfolio in its first public demonstration of interoperability, including an 802.16e Ultra Light AP running 3.5GHz; and Redline Communications is showing some personal connections from its RedMAX products to laptops using Wavesat chips (the company named its product roadmap RedPATH this week, of which "personal broadband" is phase 2, and making it mobile is 3).
Telco ENTEL Chile is installing Alvarion BreezeMAX 3500 WiMax equipment in 14 cities in Chile. The company is a former Alvarion customer, using BreezeACCESS XL equipment to provide proprietary wireless broadband to 30,000 customers. They expect to have the network installed by the end of June.
Management platform maker Aptilo Networks has joined the WiMax Forum to "incorporate parts of the WiMax Forum specified supporting node functionality in the ASN gateway and CSN into the existing Aptilo Service Management Platform (SMP) and Aptilo Access Controller (AC)," according to a statement.
May 18, 2006
ABI Research says WiMax equipment makers need to be ready to pay. Specifically, to pay royalties to Qualcomm. After buying out Flarion Technologies and acquiring the rights to several OFDM-related patents, Qualcomm put itself in the driver seat of technology directly related to WiMax use. ABI says only Soma Networks has been paying Qualcomm. It's been paying the company for CDMA rights since 2001, and says paying for OFDM seemed the right thing to do; Soma calls the move "future proofing." ABI calls the move "smart." Now expect Qualcomm to go after more royalty money from the many other WiMax vendors out there. "WiMax vendors may think that they don't have to worry about Qualcomm's OFDM patents," says Senior Analyst Philip Solis of ABI Research's wireless connectivity practice, "but they are mistaken: Qualcomm will enforce them."
WiBro the Korean version of mobile WiMax/802.16e coming in June to Seoul, long before 16e is even a done deal already has its first client card. KT and Axalto have released the WiBro UICC card, giving users access to the 3G network run by KT at speeds up to -- get this -- 18 Mbps.
Alvarion says its proprietary BreezeNET B100 product (due in the third quarter) has been tested at point-to-point wireless speeds of 108 Megabits per second (Mbps) in the 5GHz unlicensed band. The products target building-to-building connections for businesses and campuses, and backhaul for high-performance networks using Wi-Fi or WiMax.
TowerStream says its new wireless, last-mile service called High-Availability T1+ (HI-VI T1+) will have five nines: 99.999% uptime 365 days a year without service interruption. The $600/month service, limited to New York City for now, uses pre-WiMax technology to make two connections to different base stations in the city for redundancy.
The VoiceWIP software suite will give providers using Airspan Networks' WipLL systems VoIP admission control. It works as a "wireless operator to prevent network congestion," such as preventing degradation of existing calls as more users sign on to make calls, according to a company statement. The software runs on the AS.TONE softswitch and works with any SIP client. In the future, look for it on Airspan's AS.MAX WiMax base stations.