LTE Who? WiMAX Players Team to Enable 300Mbps

Leading WiMAX silicon suppliers, equipment makers and research organizations have announced a new initiative to accelerate the commercialization of the WiMAX 2 802.16m standard, which supports data rates of more than 300Mbps. As a bonus, WiMAX 2 systems will offer lower latency and increased VoIP capacity.

The initiative targets interoperability of this next release of WiMAX technology, which builds upon 802.16e by adding new capabilities while maintaining backward compatibility.

The performance gains will enable WiMAX operators to keep up with the explosion in demand for rich, multimedia mobile applications and devices which increasingly require high speed, on-the-go connectivity, said the WiMAX 2 Collaboration Initiative, or WCI. The new group includes WiMAX vendors Alvarion, Beceem, GCT Semiconductor, Intel, Motorola, Samsung, Sequans, XRONet and ZTE, as well as the Taiwanese research organization, ITRI.

The 802.16m air interface standard definition is expected to be completed in the second half of 2010.

As 4G begins to be built out, the WCI says that it is imperative to evolve the industry model to create a better value chain for service providers. The WiMAX industry is seeing a nonlinear shift in mobile broadband usage models – similar in magnitude to that experienced when people went from dialup to broadband. Consumers on some WiMAX networks are apparently consuming 7-10 GB of data per month.

“The wireless industry is convinced that the growing volume of data consumers are eating up is a bad thing,” said Mike Sievert, COO at Clearwire. “But for us, our spectrum position gives us tremendous capacity and the ability to meet the explosive demand for mobile broadband. Today our CLEAR mobile customers are using an average of more than 7GB of data per month on our network. And while other companies are considering how to curtail usage, we simply say to our customers, here’s the Internet: the world in the palm of your hand – enjoy it.”

With the goal of supporting exponential data usage, the group will work closely with the WiMAX Forum to accelerate the implementation of interoperable system profiles for WiMAX 2 equipment and devices with the goal of improving the economics of mobile broadband.

The objectives of the group include:

  • Technology collaboration and joint performance benchmarking
  • Joint testing of 4G applications over WiMAX 2 solutions
  • Early network level interoperability testing
  • Plugfests to prepare for WiMAX Forum certification

The group will issue detailed milestones and delivery schedules within the next three to six months with the goal to support the WiMAX Forum’s readiness to certify commercial products by late 2011.

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