WiMAX 1.0, otherwise known as 802.16e, is soon going to be replaced by WiMAX 2.0, more affectionately called 802.16m, and it’s promising to be a hell of a lot faster. It’s proper 4G, meaning it delivers 100 Mbps to mobile devices and 1 Gbps to fixed (not moving) modems. The only competitor to WiMAX 2 is LTE-Advanced, and both technologies are still not officially standards yet. Yesterday Intel, Samsung, Motorola, and several other companies basically got together and said “we want to be the first 4G technology to be out on the market, and we’re going to take speed and inject coffee into our veins if that’s what it takes”.
Noticeably absent from the list of supporters is Sprint and Clearwire. One would think that one of the largest WiMAX operators in the world would want to join this new group, but it’s been hinted several times over that Clearwire may be switching to LTE. This movie, or lack thereof, to join the WiMAX 2 ecosystem doesn’t exactly bode well for the future of WiMAX in America, or WiMAX anywhere.
Full press release after the jump.
TAIPEI, Taiwan – (Business Wire) Leading WiMAX silicon suppliers, equipment makers and research organizations have announced a new initiative to accelerate interoperability of the next release of WiMAX technology, WiMAX 2, based upon the IEEE 802.16m standard. 802.16m builds upon 802.16e by adding new capabilities while maintaining backward compatibility. It meets the International Telecommunications Union requirements for 4G or “IMT-Advanced,” delivering higher system capacity – peak rates of more than 300 Mbps – lower latency and increased VoIP capacity. 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.
The 802.16m air interface standard definition began in 2006 in the IEEE as a follow-on to 802.16e, and is expected to be completed in the 2nd half of 2010.
As the 4G wireless broadband industry begins to take shape, it is imperative to evolve the industry model to create a better value chain for service providers. With this goal in mind, leading WiMAX vendors Alvarion, Beceem, GCT Semiconductor, Intel, Motorola, Samsung, Sequans, XRONet and ZTE as well as the Taiwanese research organization, ITRI, have launched the WiMAX 2 Collaboration Initiative (WCI). 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 Taiwanese device manufacturing ecosystem is already providing all manner of clients today – standalone modems, USB dongles, embedded modules for PCs, mobile Internet devices, handsets and CE devices – for Release 1 of WiMAX,” said Dr. Cheng-Wen Wu, General Director of Information & Communications Research Laboratories and VP of ITRI (Industrial Technology Research Institute). “ITRI has demonstrated great dedication to developing WiMAX technology and will strongly support early commercialization of 802.16m.”
“UQ is very pleased with the creation of the 802.16m Collaboration Group. UQ believes WCI will contribute to accelerate build up of the 802.16m ecosystem. UQ has a strong intention to upgrade its network to 802.16m to provide an even higher level of mobile broadband services to our customers,” said Dr. Fumio Watanabe, CTO of UQ Communications, Inc.”
The WiMAX industry is seeing a non-linear shift in mobile broadband usage models – similar in magnitude to that experienced when people went from dial-up to broadband. Consumers on some WiMAX networks are consuming 7-10 GB of data per month. WiMAX 1 ushered in a new, open model for high speed, wireless Internet and WiMAX 2 will keep pushing the envelope to help operators keep up with insatiable demand.
“The wireless industry is convinced that the growing volume of data consumers are eating up is a bad thing,” said Mike Sievert, Chief Commercial Officer, 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.”
“These improvements are a great forward step for the WiMAX community in meeting the capacity demands of 4G customers all over the world,” said Iyad Tarazi, Vice President of Network Development at Sprint.
The group will issue detailed milestones and delivery schedules within the next 3-6 months with the goal to support the WiMAX Forum’s readiness to certify commercial products by late 2011. The group includes the top suppliers of WiMAX silicon and equipment, providing solutions to more than one hundred Mobile WiMAX operators worldwide.
Supporting quotes from all group members (in alphabetical order).
“Alvarion has been a strong advocate of open standards and interoperable solutions that help foster a complete ecosystem,” said Mohammad Shakouri, Corporate Vice President of Innovation and Marketing for Alvarion. “We believe WiMAX 2 is a natural evolution of the technology that will allow the operators to strive to seamlessly enhance the performance of their current networks. We look forward to working with the industry leaders to bring the technology early to the market.”
“Beceem has already announced that its next generation chip will support all 4G standards and networks, and we are excited to be part of the strong ecosystem that is embracing WiMAX 2,” said Lars Johnsson, Vice President of Marketing and Business Development for Beceem Communications. “Many WiMAX service providers rely on devices that are based on our 4G chips, and they are looking forward to adopting next generation devices that will allow them to migrate their networks to WiMAX 2, which will in turn allow them to provide higher connection speeds, and to do so at further increased network efficiency.”
“As the industry leading supplier of WiMAX single-chip solutions with the largest worldwide deployment and over two million single-chips shipped to major operators worldwide, GCT is looking forward to playing a key role in this new initiative to accelerate WiMAX Release 2 solutions based upon the 802.16m standard,” commented Dr. KH Lee, President and CEO of GCT Semiconductor. “We will work closely with members of this initiative to quickly bring WiMAX 2 to market and to enable new devices that require higher capacity by fully leveraging GCT’s extensive experience to build up a mature WiMAX ecosystem worldwide.”
“Intel is pleased to see strong ecosystem support emerging to accelerate WiMAX 2 capabilities,” said Pouya Taaghol, CTO of Intel’s Mobile Wireless Group. “Intel has been a leader in driving the IEEE 802.16m standard and will work closely with this group and the WiMAX Forum to ensure WiMAX 2 meets the needs of operators facing explosive demand for mobile data and services.”
“Motorola’s WiMAX leadership is driven by our commitment to WiMAX, proven by our extensive portfolio of access points and customer premises equipment,” said Bruce Brda, Senior Vice President And General Manager, Motorola Networks business. “Motorola Networks will continue to provide technology choice to operators by advancing to 802.16m while assuring investment protection, unprecedented 4G performance enhancements and a robust ecosystem.”
Woonsub Kim, Executive Vice President and Head of the Telecommunication Systems Business, Samsung Electronics, said, “We’re strongly committed to accelerating the development and commercialization of WiMAX 2 solutions based on the 802.16m standard as Samsung was the first in the world to commercialize WiMAX 1 solutions. We are confident that the WCI will rapidly expand the Mobile WiMAX market to provide mobile Internet to people in all corners of the globe,” he added.
“As a leader in 4G chip technology, Sequans is committed to the continued advancement of WiMAX and to the support of this important industry effort that will benefit the entire ecosystem,” said Georges Karam, CEO, Sequans.
“XRONet is focused on providing the best WiMAX chipsets optimized for mobile devices. XRONet is committed to developing next generation WiMAX chipsets for 802.16m providing better performance and higher capacity than current 802.16e solutions,” said Will (Hyungwon) Kim, CEO, XRONet. With its broad range of devices & equipment in service for years, WiMAX is a mature technology and is the fastest ramping 4G technology in the world. As leading companies start providing 802.16m products over the next two years, WiMAX will be in an even stronger position to deliver the most advanced 4G solutions.”
“ZTE is a leading supplier of 4G end-to-end solutions. For the past few years, ZTE has played an important role in promoting the WiMAX ecosystem,” said Sean Cai, Deputy General Manager of ZTE WiMAX Product Line, ZTE USA. “We are committed to future WiMAX evolution, and continue to invest in the 802.16m standard and technology development.”