WiMAX Forum Certifies First Mobile Devices  

At the WiMAX Forum Congress Asia conference in Singapore this week, the WiMAX Forum announced the first products to receive official Mobile WiMAX certification. Certificiation will ensure interoperability between different mobile broadband gear and different basestations - much like Wi-Fi.

The Forum revealed the first eight products to get their “certified seal of approval.” Four base stations and four subscriber units for 2.3 GHz were approved:

“With the first group of Mobile WiMAX certified products now available, we have delivered on our promise to ensure that WiMAX products are interoperable,” said WiMax Forum president Ron Resnick in a statement.

The Forum said it expected to announce certified mobile WiMax products in the 2.5 GHz frequency band “in the coming months.” Overall, the Forum said it would certify more than 100 products by the end of this year. The WiMAX Forum expects more than 133 million WiMAX users globally by 2012.

KT deployed the first portion of its Mobile WiMAX network in 2006 and began full commercial services in the Seoul metropolitan area in April 2007. The operator has just over 140,000 customers on its WiMAX network and expects at least 410,000 subscribers by the end of 2008, covering more than 40 percent of the population.

Certification of 2.5 GHz equipment will be especially important to Sprint and Clearwire, since they are using 2.5 GHz and need interoperability for nationwide roaming.

The tests took place at AT4 Wireless labs in Malaga, Spain, with input from members of the Telecommunications Technology Association’s IT testing and certification lab from Seoul, Korea.

Mobile WiMAX and LTE have now begun a holy war over broadband wireless standards. But the outcome may have already been determined. Some 80% of the world’s 3.3 billion cellular subscribers already use the GSM cellular standard, and the vast majority are expected to upgrade using cellular-backed LTE.

But proponents of Mobile WiMAX say their data-centric technology is available now, with a 2-3 year lead over LTE (which isn’t even an approved standard yet). And they have an upgrade path that’s also backwards compatible with today’s Mobile WiMAX gear — which delivers some 30-40 Mbps.

The IEEE 802.16 Task Group m (TGm) is their secret sauce — the path to 100Mbps (mobile) and 1 Gbps (fixed) — while providing support for today’s legacy Mobile WiMAX equipment, and meeting the emerging requirements of IMT-Advanced next generation mobile networks.

We believe that 5 billion people will be connected by 2015, four billion of them over broadband,” says Michael Murphy, Head of Technology for Nokia Siemens Networks, a company that has placed bets on both.

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