Quickertek antenna promises to boost Time Capsule's range  

It won't do much to complement the Time Capsule's minimalist looks, but if you've been itching to get a bit more range of out thing, you now have a new option to consider from Quickertek, which recently introduced its new TriBand Antenna for the device. Available either as a self-install kit or pre-installed on the Time Capsule of your choice, the slightly janky-looking rig promises a 50% increase in range over a standard Time Capsule, with ample coaxial cabling provided to let you position it just right. As if that wasn't enough, Quickertek is also promising that the antenna will let you reach speeds "much closer to the theoretical yield of 300 megabits per second," although it apparently isn't making any firm claims on that matter. If that sounds like the boost you've been looking for, you can grab the self-install kit now for $130, get Quickertek to install the antenna on your existing Time Capsule for $200, or get a 500GB or 1TB Time Capsule with it pre-installed for $500 or $700, respectively.

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AT&T offers **free Option GT Ultra and GT Ultra Express HSUPA cards (**must sell soul)  

Check it data fans, AT&T just announced a pair of new HSUPA LaptopConnect cards from Option. The GT Ultra goes type II PCMCIA while the GT Ultra Express is, you guessed it, destined for ExpressCard34 slots. Both cards are tri-band UMTS/HSPA 850/1900/2100MHz and quad-band GPRS/EDGE capable for BroadbandConnect speeds of about 600Kbps to 1.4Mbps on the way down or 500Kbps to 800Kbps back up the tubes. Those bands should get your suit connected in some 140 countries spanning the US, Europe, Japan and Korea. The cards are Mac and PC compatible and will set you back $50 0$ (for a limited time starting tomorrow) plus a two year contract of at least $60 per month. After you mail-in the appropriate rebate forms of course... which you'll probably forget to do.

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Apple launches 802.11n Airport Express right on cue  

What's this? New Product from Apple on a Monday? Why, yes, yes it is. The 802.11n Airport Express rumored over the weekend just became official. $99 takes the little iTunes streaming, pocket base station home to a draft-n network near you. Yes, today.

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BMW's ConnectedDrive brings the whole internet to your car... on EDGE  

And you thought puttering around the intarwebz on your EDGE-capable iPhone was bad -- just think of trying to find anything on the 'net while accidentally moseying through a dodgy part of town. Nevertheless, BMW is gearing up to offer "unrestricted access" to the web as an option in any new 2008 vehicle, but alas, it's only for European clients at the moment. Of course, BMW's no stranger to letting bits and pieces of the web into its motorcars, but this creation will let you catch up on the latest gadget news and pre-order the latest Elmo doll from the comfort of your heated seat. Sadly, the service is only available to front seat passengers when the car is moving under 3mph (it's for the best, we know), but your kiddos can surf into all sorts of bizarre chatrooms while seated in the rear. Nothing like a predator tailing you on the autobahn!

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Sprint to launch dual-mode CDMA / WiMAX devices this year?  

Assuming Sprint can make it -- and that's starting to seem like kind of a big if these days -- CEO Dan Hesse made some comments about the coming 4G revolution, including one auspicious hint about dual-mode CDMA / WiMAX devices this later year for XOHM. It's almost an exciting enough concept for us to forget that even if these devices were forthcoming in 2008, they'd still only be for one of the soft launch markets, and would probably start as a data cards -- not phones. But hey, we're happy to be proven wrong, Sprint.

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Tata rolls out "world's largest" commercial WiMAX network in India  

It seems as if Tata Communications is out to one-up BSNL -- or at least claim its share of the limelight, anyway. More specifically, the outfit has teamed up with Telsima in order to roll out the "world's largest commercial WiMAX network" in India. Over 5,000 enterprise / retail customers are already connected in ten cities, and there are plans in place to secure nearly a quarter million customers in retail alone during fiscal year 2009. Furthermore, we're hearing that the services should be stretched to 110 cities for enterprise users and 15 cities for the retail segment by the year's end, but users in Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Cochin, Chandigarh, and Kolkata are the only ones celebrating at the moment. Not a bad way to grab a bit more market share from Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited, eh?

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Sierra Wireless intros Compass 597 EV-DO USB modem  

Truth be told, there's nothing extraordinary about Sierra Wireless' latest EV-DO USB modem. It plays nice with Rev. A networks, includes a microSD slot, and comes with TRU-Install to simplify the setup procedure. Granted, it is "the only product in its class to include a connector for an external antenna (saywha?)," and it is remarkably small, so it's still worth a look if you're currently doing without. As expected, you'll reach downlink speeds of up to 3.1Mbps and upload speeds of up to 1.8Mbps, and the built-in GPS antenna is a nice bonus, too. Unfortunately, we've no idea how costly this one will be, but be on the lookout for a Q2 launch.

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802.11n AirPort Express hands-on  

Well, what can we say? The new 802.11n AirPort Express looks exactly like the 802.11g AirPort Express we've been using to stream iTunes and wirelessly print to an el-cheapo USB laser printer since 2004. In fact, if not for the different model numbers (A1264 now, instead of A1084) and the fact that our old unit has some random battle scars, we would have found it almost impossible to tell them apart. Check the gallery for the hot side-by-side action.

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Intel touts long-distance WiFi for rural areas  

While some companies are busy exploring other options for bringing wireless connectivity to rural areas, Intel's apparently been hard at work pushing plain old WiFi as far as they're able to, and they're reportedly now seeing some rather impressive results. According to Technology Review, the company's so-called "rural connectivity platform" (or RCP) is able to beam WiFi signals from one antenna to another located more than 60 miles away, and at data rates up to 6.5 megabits per second, no less. To do that, Intel whipped up some software that effectively rewrites the way the two radios communicate with one another, in particular by eliminating the extra data sent confirming transmissions. Of course, those high-powered antennas also come into play considerably, but Intel says the entire system is both inexpensive (it's aiming for below $500 when it starts selling it in India later this year) and low-power, with two or three radios in a link requiring just five or six watts.

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China Mobile firing up TD-SCDMA trials this April  

We've been hearing that China Mobile would have its act together and get TD-SCDMA ready well in advance of the 2008 Beijing Olympics since last November, and with merely months to spare, it seems things just may work out. Reportedly, the carrier is all set to begin commercial trials of the home cooked 3G standard on April 1st, where it will be tested in Shanghai, Tianjin, Shenyang, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Xiamen, Qinhuangdao and of course, Beijing. Initially, China Mobile Group will provide 20,000 lucky souls with free TD-SCDMA phones and subsidies of 800 yuan per month, while folks outside of that group can also walk into retail outlets and pick up discounted handsets on a whim. Maybe it's just us, but we'd probably hold off until those guinea pigs gave everyone else a heads-up of the network quality before we went dropping our own change on it.

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CEO of failed WiMAX operator calls the technology a "disaster"  

We haven't heard too many specifics when it comes to performance of actual WiMAX rollouts (and let's be real, we're all kind of waiting for LTE at this point, right?), but Garth Freeman, CEO of Buzz Broadband, apparently shuttered the company's Australian WiMAX rollout in Hervey Bay, publicly declaring that for his company and customers the technology "failed miserably". Apparently beyond about a mile from the base station non-line of sight performance was "non-existent", regular indoor use produced latencies as high as 1000ms even just 400m away, and the company had to scrap its network for TD-CDMA service on 1.9GHz just to make sure customers weren't completely left in the cold.

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Slacker Portable gets Devicescape WiFi manager  

Hey, Slacker Portable users -- yeah, all eight of you: listen up. Slacker has just teamed up with Devicescape Software in order to give you easier access to more WiFi when on the go. Essentially, the Devicescape Connect application is a WiFi hotspot manager which allows users to register usernames / passwords online and then have the software automatically connect whenever in range. For existing users all giddy about having more opportunities to refresh your Personal Radio stations, you can simply perform a station refresh to nab the new goods -- as for prospective buyers, look for all Portables shipping now to have Devicescape pre-installed.

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MWC: Nortel takes a closer look at EDGE  

Vendor releases Evolved EDGE upgrade; promises to breathe new life into 2G technology

BARCELONA--While the rest of the Mobile World Congress did back flips for the latest radio access craze, Long Term Evolution, Nortel Networks was talking 2G. The vendor is proposing that operators take another look at the EDGE networks of yesteryear, and specifically buy its new software upgrade to the GSM base station, Evolved EDGE.

Evolved EDGE is essentially a multi-channel data technology, working much the same way as CDMA EV-DO Revision B. Several 40 KHz EDGE channels are merged creating a super channel of sorts, which can deliver capacity close to broadband speeds, said Scott Wickware, vice president of carrier networks for Nortel. The packet nature of EDGE even gives it advantages to 3G at greater distances from the cell site, Wickware said: “At the cell edge, Evolved EDGE behaves the same as UMTS.”

Only a software upgrade would be necessary at the base station, but the biggest obstacle to implementing it is to get the necessary upgrades in handsets, which would need to reprogrammed to accept the multi-channel streams. No handset vendors have yet to commit to doing such, but several other infrastructure vendors such as Nokia Siemens are pursuing the technology. If carriers elect to deploy it, the handsets will follow, Wickware said, and there are several operators that every reason to so. Operators who didn’t win 3G spectrum need to bolster their 2G networks while waiting for the advent of 4G technologies and even many 3G operators have only deployed UMTS in “islands”. For those operators Evolved EDGE would be a convenient way to upgrade their entire data footprint without investing in new 3G rollouts, Wickware said.

Nortel may have been talking 2G at the show, but it still took equal part in the 4G festivities. For the second year in a row, Nortel had its prototype LTE base station turned up, running over local 1900 MHz spectrum. This year its joint venture partner LG Electronics had turned its proof-of-concept terminal boxes into prototype handsets though, allowing Nortel to show LTE in its more natural mobile state.

Wickware acknowledged the noise over LTE had grown intense this year, but he said it was not being over-hyped. “The truth is operators need LTE sooner rather than later,” Wickware said, adding that the development cycles for all of the vendors are being accelerated. “A lot of infrastructure vendors and handset vendors are ready to tell operators about their products.”

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Sprint looking for WiMAX options  

Everyone from Intel to Best Buy has been named as a possible partner, but Sprint’s main goal now seems to be to revive the Clearwire partnership

In the last few weeks, numerous potential partners have emerged as possible saviors for Sprint’s ailing WiMAX efforts, but so far there’s been little substance to the rumors except for Sprint’s own admission it’s searching for a suitor.

On its earnings call last week, Sprint reported a loss of $29.5 billion, and new CEO Dan Hesse admitted the problems at Sprint were worse than he envisioned when he first took over. But although much of the financial community expected the new and expensive 4G network to be the first item on the chopping block during Sprint’s restructuring, Hesse sought to assure investors that Sprint’s interest in WiMAX had not flagged.

“I want to leave you with no doubt that our first priority is our core business, which is where our people and our capital are focused without distraction,” Hesse said. “But Sprint has an enormous asset--nearly 100 megahertz of unutilized spectrum--and the opportunity to have a three-year head start with our Xohm service, true wireless broadband with multi-megabit speed.”

Hesse also indicated Sprint doesn’t want to tackle that opportunity alone. Sprint is still very much open to reviving the spectrum-sharing partnership with Clearwire that collapsed late last year, he said. In fact, Sprint is still in active negotiations with the broadband wireless provider, which owns the same 2.5-GHz spectrum but in smaller markets than Sprint’s primarily large metro-area licenses. No final agreement has been reached though, Hesse said, and he didn’t address any of the other rumors circulating about other possible tie-ups.

The most prominent of those rumors is an investment by Intel. In February, TheStreet.com first reported that Intel would make a $2 billion investment in a Clearwire-Sprint joint venture. TheStreet, however, also said the deal could be announced publicly in the next few days, which never happened. Still, Intel’s potential interest in a deal holds a lot of water. It’s already invested $600 million in Clearwire, which was, in part, an incentive for Clearwire to abandon its NextNet proprietary broadband wireless technology in favor of WiMAX. Intel is hell-bent on creating a Mobile WiMAX market in the U.S., giving it an outlet for its next-generation wireless networking chips. Given that the two largest operators in the U.S., Verizon Wireless and AT&T, have already tapped Long Term Evolution as their future 4G technology, Intel probably wants to assure that the country’s sole nationwide WiMAX network makes it beyond infancy.

But Intel isn’t the only one supposedly interested. News reports and analysts have named companies from every corner of the telecom and consumer electronics worlds as possible investors: search-engine giant Google, South Korean telco SK Telecom, vendor Motorola, cable operator Comcast and even big-box retailer Best Buy. Google definitely has an acute interest in broadband wireless as a means to extend its Web services to the mobile world, but Google is much more motivated in ensuring 3G and 4G networks are open to its applications rather than in being in the wireless operator business itself. Google participated in the ongoing 700 MHz auctions, but it is widely believed it only bid up nationwide spectrum to meet the FCC’s open access threshold, thus requiring that the eventual winner open its networks to Google services. But Google has a clear interest in Sprint. It has partnered with the carrier to provide portal services for the new Xohm network and is working with Sprint on the 3G front to promote its new Android operating system.

SK Telecom has already shown an active interest in the U.S. market, joining with EarthLink to launch MVNO Helio. Its investment continues. Last year SK invested another $270 million to prop up the venture, despite the virtual operator’s poor financial performance. Like Intel, SK Telecom has a vested interest in seeing WiMAX succeed in the U.S. SK currently runs the only commercial Mobile WiMAX network in Korea, using Samsung-developed WiBro technology, and the success of its network venture depends on WiMAX’s global adoption.

Motorola is the other named potential investor pining for WiMAX’s success. As the company has struggled with 3G, it has reinvented itself as a 4G player focusing particularly on WiMAX. Along with Intel, Moto also invested $300 million in Clearwire and took over Clearwire’s NextNet infrastructure business. But Motorola is reeling from its own financial problems and probably isn’t considering many major capital outlays.

Comcast might feasibly be interested in participating in a Sprint-Clearwire joint venture in order to offer wireless broadband to compliment its home cable modem services. The problem is Clearwire’s business model directly competes with Comcast’s home broadband services in many markets. And so far, Comcast’s quadruple play experiment with Sprint in the Pivot joint venture has been a wash.

The last rumored investor, Best Buy, is probably the most unlikely as the retailer has no interest in whether WiMAX succeeds or fails. “Best Buy would be a highly relevant distribution partner for JV services,” said ThinkEquity in a research note on Clearwire issued today. “Notwithstanding, we never understood why this required Best Buy to invest in the JV; we would be surprised if Best Buy significantly invests in the JV.”

Though Best Buy’s participation is unlikely, ThinkEquity expects an investment package to emerge soon. Intel will be the catalyst for such a transaction, and it can bring other big players to the table, the analyst firm said.

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NextWave targets TV over WiMAX  

Operator-turned-vendor expands its partnership with Huawei and uses IPWireless’s TDtv technology to build multicast video into WiMAX

NextWave revealed a new video delivery platform today designed to deliver Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Service (MBMS) capabilities to new WiMAX networks, using technology from its IPWireless and PacketVideo acquisitions.

The network technology builds off of the TDtv technology that IPWireless developed for Time Division-CDMA networks in Europe. Using MBMS techniques, video channels can be fed through the base station to WiMAX handsets or portable computers, either multicast live to multiple users or unicast to individual users depending on channel demand and viewing patterns.

The plus side of such a technology over dedicated mobile TV technologies such as Qualcomm’s Forward Link Only (FLO) and Digital Video Broadcast-Handheld (DVB-H) is they do not require a special radio receiver chip to pick up the TV channels—the video stream is modulated right over the same WiMAX silicon. The downside, however, is that only NextWave WiMAX has the software necessary to receive MXtv. WiMAX interoperability testing partner Huawei has agreed to integrate MXtv technology into its WiMAX base station line, and NextWave mobile product division chief marketing officer Jon Hambidge said NextWave is finalizing other WiMAX infrastructure deals. If WiMAX vendors support and sell the technology, it will create momentum among CPE and handset vendors to build MXtv capabilities into their devices, either through buying NextWave silicon or licensing NextWave technology, Hambidge said.

NextWave is also taking the technology before the WiMAX Forum, hoping to generate interest in getting the technique standardized for WiMAX, just as MBMS has been standardized before the 3GPP for UMTS. If NextWave succeeds, it wouldn’t necessarily mean that all future WiMAX gear would be multicast ready, but the Forum could create as special multicast profile for devices and infrastructure supporting TV services.

Hambidge said video is an opportunity too good for WiMAX operators to ignore. Many WiMAX operators are sitting on vast swaths of spectrum, deploying broadband services in only a small portion of them. Sprint, for instance has 100 MHz of spectrum in many markets, while Clearwire has 70 MHz in several of its own territories. If those operators allocated 10 MHz to MXtv, they could offer 45 300-kb/s channels, running QVGA video at 30 frames per second.

Ideally operators could offer those TV channels for free or at much lower cost than Qualcomm is offering MediaFLO services, using that programming as an incentive to lure customers onto the new WiMAX networks, Hambidge said. “In the first couple of years of WiMAX deployment, you’re not going to use all of your capacity,” Hambidge said. “MXtv is a great way to monetize your network in the meantime.”

NextWave will give its first public demonstrations of MXtv at CTIA Wireless in Las Vegas next month.

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LTE and WiMAX to share CTIA stage  

xpect a flurry of mobile application announcements at the wireless show

Long-term evolution trumped WiMAX at Mobile World Congress, as GSM operators around the world gathered under the LTE banner, but don't expect the same to happen at CTIA. WiMAX's champions will likely be just as loud as LTE's at North America's largest wireless event.

Leading up to CTIA, Ericsson announced its intention to support both LTE and high-speed packet access (HSPA) at 700 MHz. Ericsson won't be unveiling a new product, per se, but it has promised to turn around a 700 MHz UMTS base station within six months of an order being placed.

“What we're announcing today are product plans to produce a complete ecosystem for LTE and HSPA at 700 MHz,” said Arun Bhikshesvaran, vice president of strategy and chief technology officer for North America for Ericsson.

Nokia Siemens Networks already has committed to tuning its Flexi base station line to 700 MHz across its GSM, HSPA, LTE, UMTS and WiMAX portfolios. As CTIA arrives, the rest of the vendor community will likely follow suit. Alcatel-Lucent, Motorola, Nortel Networks and NSN want to make it abundantly clear that they can support both technologies, said Peter Jarich, principal analyst for wireless infrastructure for Current Analysis: They want to be in the carriers' good graces no matter which 4G path those providers opt to follow.

Ultimately, WiMAX may have the upper hand at the show. LTE is still just a point on vendors' development road maps, while WiMAX is being deployed by Clearwire, Sprint and a handful of tiny providers across the country — and the first inklings of WiMAX network enhancements are starting to emerge. NextWave is unveiling its new MXtv solution at CTIA, which adds multicast and unicast video capabilities to the WiMAX base station.

The only thing taking the wind out of WiMAX's sales is the troubling performance of its biggest champion, Sprint. The operator soft-launched networks in Baltimore, Chicago and Washington, D.C., at the beginning of the year, but it has been very quiet amid rumors of a new partnership or group of investors to ease its financial burden. Sprint, however, has promised some kind of commercial launch in the second quarter, and CEO Dan Hesse's CTIA keynote happens to fall on April 1, the first day of the new quarter.

On the mobile applications side, CTIA won't be hurting for new announcements. Show discussions will center on apps and services running over operators' new WiMAX networks — all things related to open access and mobile content, said Shiv Bakhshi, director of mobility research for IDC.

Following Qualcomm's acquisition of content-targeting technologist Xiam, more companies are expected to get on board with mobile ads. TeleCommunication Systems will introduce CTIA attendees to new blended short message services (SMS) that leverage location-based messaging — applications such as prescription alerts, emergency alerts, SMS banners for location-based advertising and information — on mobile handsets.

In the mobile content area, Quickplay Media will unveil what it claims is the first universally available XM Radio Mobile service for BlackBerry users in the U.S. Until now, subscribers have been required to belong to a specific network.

Comverse will unveil a Total Communications Strategy, which it claims drives “true convergence.” The platform will include converged billing and IP services, mobile content and messaging, and its recently launched mobile advertising platform. Comverse's Innovation Lab also will feature a slew of new mobile apps, including Web 2.0 mashups, Social Sync — allowing users to update their Facebook profile from their mobile devices — Virtual Worlds and a service similar to Flickr called Context Calls.

Ulticom will announce ePASS, a server that uses SIM card authorization to make it easier for service providers to give users access to for-pay mobile content and services. The server enables a single-sign-on experience, making it much easier for users to try premium services — and much easier for operators to get paid.

Who has control of these new services and how they will be delivered will be a topic for debate at the show. With the operators on one side affirming their authority and the vendors on the other side calling for the end of the operator's regime, Bakhshi said that the power will shift somewhat into the hands of challengers such as Google and Nokia, but the operators will ultimately remain in charge. Along those lines, mobile policy solution provider Camiant is launching new wireless applications for a made-for-mobile broadband solution that give carriers complete control over off-deck mobile apps while guaranteeing quality of experience to help encourage uptake of these high-priced premium applications.

D2 Technologies will debut a mobile device solution that links handsets built under Google's Android specifications to enterprise IP PBXs and service provider unified communications offerings. The solution will use D2's mCUE user interface to handle voice, IM, SMS and e-mail communications in a next-generation, mixed-network environment.

Backhaul announcements also are sure to abound at CTIA. Mobile backhaul provider Juniper Networks will move from the network core to the base station with the launch of the BX7000 Multi-Access Gateway, an aggregation site gateway that Mallik Tatipamula, head of the mobile and fixed/mobile convergence segment for Juniper, said will solve operator's two biggest challenges: providing broadband service across next-generation mobile broadband backhaul and concurrently keeping operating expenses down. The backhaul platform will extend Juniper's aggregation node to the GSM/UMTS market.

Also in the transport area, Vanu will be featuring its recently announced Anywave MultiRAN radio access network, which can be shared by multiple operators. The company claims the product is one of the first such systems to enable each operator to maintain independent management control and make technology road map improvements.

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CTIA: Vodafone CEO warns against 4G standard wars  


LAS VEGAS--The wireless industry needs to rally behind a single 4G standard and not waste resources on technology wars in order to take full advantage of the massive opportunity of the mobile Internet, Vodafone CEO Arun Sarin said in his CTIA keynote address here today.

“We need to think about LTE as a broad and encompassing standard,” Sarin said. “I was there for the CDMA-TDMA wars, and when the GSM-WCDMA wars were going on. Those wars produced very little. What we need to learn from our history is the need for a common encompassing standard. It would be good to have WiMAX find a home in the TDD section of LTE. The last thing we need is dueling standards to take resources away from developing something that is in the common interests of this industry.”

Wasting time and resources on a standards war puts the entire industry at some risk as wireless carriers face competition from Internet players that are willing to leverage wireless access, reducing service providers to fat pipes, Sarin said. The mobile Internet is the industry’s future, he said, and wireless carriers must be prepared to change to prepare for that future.

“Mobile can become the primary means of accessing the Internet in developed countries and especially in developing countries,” Sarin said. “Our industry is at an important crossroads – we have to invest to bring new services to life. We cannot become just bit pipes for others who make these investments on our behalf. If we get this right, the mobile Internet and associated broadband services will produce an enormous upside. If we get this wrong, the mobile Internet will still produce an enormous upside but that upside will not be experienced by us.”

Sarin also called on the wireless industry to reduce the number of mobile operating systems as well, advocating three or four instead of the current 10 or 12. “I’m not saying we get down to one – we’ve seen that movie,” Sarin said.

Sarin challenged the wireless industry to invest more heavily in customer relationship management systems and location-based technology and to listen to consumer demands for simpler billing options. While proud of his long-time wireless heritage, Sarin said he and others who built wireless networks beginning in the 1980s realize they would build them differently if starting from scratch today, adding that the wireless industry needs to be quicker to adopt the newer systems.

In order to become the primary means of Internet access, the industry needs “high-resolution screens, longer battery lives, touch screens,” Sarin said. “We need to minimize keystrokes, make things intuitive and develop different kinds of Internet services and content that are suitable for mobile.”

“As an industry, we must move from a mindset of providing a channel from which users can access the Internet to designing an Internet experience to suit the mobile channel,” Sarin said.

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First Mobile WiMAX products certified (in Korea)  

The WiMax Forum has certified the first Mobile WiMax products, announcing this week that four base stations and four data cards have received the Forum seal. Though the first “official” Mobile WiMax products in the market, they are targeted solely on the South Korean market where Korea Telecom has been operating a pre-WiMax network for two years.

The first wave of WiMax testing essentially certifies Samsung and its partners, who have pushed for its WiBro technology’s inclusion into the WiMax standard. Based on the same IEEE 802.16e as traditional mobile WiMax, WiBro uses unique frequencies (2.3 GHz) and odd channel sizes (9 MHz), and the equipment can only be sold in Korea. The gear is also probably the only WiMax line that will not include support for multiple input-multiple output (MIMO) smart antenna technologies.

That’s all fine by Korea Telecom, which immediately stated it would begin using the new certified products in its now-WiMax network. KT first launched commercial service in 2005 using Samsung gear and has signed up 100,000 subscribers and sold a variety of devices from laptop dongles to miniature computers.

While the certification of Wave 1 products for Korea is a mainly a milestone, the forum said it signals the ramping up of its interoperability and compliance testing throughout its global lab network. With the first wave under its belt, the forum will now move ahead much more quickly in its certification efforts for North American and global products, said Ron Resnick, WiMax Forum president.

“Stay tuned,” Resnick said in a statement. “We expect this momentum to continue throughout the year when the first products for the 2.5 GHz frequency achieve certification in the coming months.”

The 2.5 GHz licenses are owned by Sprint and Clearwire in the US, and Wave 2 certification is expected to produce the first base stations, home gateway and PC card products for their networks. While Resnick gave no exact date for those first products to appear, they will likely coincide with or shortly follow Sprint’s commercial launch of Xohm this quarter.

The forum also has a lot of other profiles on its plate. Global 3.5 GHz frequencies have also been identified as optimal for WiMax and have spawned numerous trials in Europe as well as small-scale commercial rollouts. The forum has also said it would certify gear at 700 MHz to support the networks of the recent auction winners.

The forum’s certification priorities, however, follow the interests of its large operator and vendor membership closely. KT was the first WiMax operator to launch, thus WiBro was the first profile certified. Sprint is next, and therefore its 2.5 GHz MIMO profile is the next to hit the labs. As more major operators make their 4G network decisions, the forum as well as its vendor membership will likely fall in lockstep.

BT has been contemplating expanding its WiFi wireless strategy to the wide area network using WiMax and is likely to participate in the upcoming 2.6 GHz auction in the UK. Japan has also become a hotspot for WiMax as the consortium UQ communications plans a nationwide rollout covering 90% of the population by 2012, using the same 2.5 GHz spectrum allocated in the US. However, UQ member KDDI is reportedly considering following in fellow CDMA operators Verizon’s footsteps in pursuing Long Term Evolution. India is another big market, having recently produced not one but two major operators pursuing large-scale broadband access plans using WiMax, one also at 2.5 GHz, the other at 3.3 GHz.

With all of the interest in 2.5 GHz, the next wave of certification will be a highly active one. The forum expects hundreds of products to be certified by the end of the year, the majority of them Wave 2, as opposed to the eight that came out of Wave 1. Most vendors opted to skip Wave 1 entirely since Samsung has a lock on the KT contract. All four vendors participating—Samsung, Posdata, Runcom and Sequans--had base stations certified. Sequans Communications won approval for a reference design built around its base-station chip, a clear indication it’s seeking OEM agreements with other manufacturers to get into the Korean WiMax business.

At the WiMax World Congress in Singapore this week, Motorola also unveiled a new compact base station, though it did not get it certified by the forum. The WAP 450 is a variant of its traditional Moto Wi4 Diversity base station, except it has a more powerful radio frequency module at the tower top. The RF module receives direct power, thus enhancing its capacity and coverage without directly boosting power consumption. Traditional ground base stations shed half of their power funneling their signals through cables to the antenna.

Motorola and UTStarcom also announced they have landed a joint contract with First International Telecom to build out a WiMax network in northern Taiwan. The deal is Motorola’s third in Taiwan in eight months.

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The story of WiMAX in India  

Read an article on WiMAX in India in Rediff:

On March 4, India's Tata Communications, an emerging broadband player, announced the countrywide rollout of a commercial WiMax network, the largest anywhere in the world of the high-speed, wireless broadband technology.

Already 10 Indian cities and 5,000 retail and business customers use the product, and by next year Tata will offer service in 115 cities nationwide. The folks at Tata can hardly contain their excitement. "WiMax is not experimental, it's oven-hot," says Tata's Prateek Pashine, in charge of the company's broadband and retail business.

Of course WiMax is not new. Most everyone in the industry has been talking about it for years. Intel chairman Craig Barrett has been propagating its virtues in pilot projects across the world, including India and Africa.

Sprint will be rolling out a WiMax network in Washington next month, and in other US cities next year. Until now the most advanced use of WiMax has been in Japan and Korea, where Japanese carrier KDDI and Korea Telecom offer extensive WiMax networks.

However the Japanese and Korean services are not available nationwide - KDDI will have its major rollout only in 2009 - and most people use them as supplements to the wired services.

It's in emerging economies like India, where there is little connectivity and where mobile usage is soaring because of the difficulty in getting broadband wires to homes and offices, that WiMax is likely to see its full potential as a commercially viable technology.
Intel, whose silicon chips power WiMax, has been pushing for this technology for some years and its executives are practically salivating at the thought of the successful rollout in India.

"The more countries and telcos that get behind this technology the better," says R. Sivakumar, chief executive of Intel South Asia. Predicting that the new technology will make other types of Internet access obsolete, he boasts "Tata will set the cat among the pigeons."

Tata Communications has been working on setting this up for a couple of years, and successfully completed field trials last December. It has used the technology from Telsima, a Sunnyvale (Calif.) maker of WiMax base-stations and the leading WiMax tech provider in the world.

For now, the technology will be restricted to fixed wireless, but Tata plans to make it mobile by midyear. The company has invested about $100 million in the project, which will increase to $500 million over the next four years as it begins to near its goal of having 50 million subscribers in India.

The world is watching

Global tech analysts are will be watching carefully. Though WiMax is prevalent in Korea, the Korean service is a slightly different version, says Bertrand Bidaud, a communications analyst with Gartner in Singapore. It's a Korea-specific pre-WiMax technology called WiBRO.

But the Indian market is where the conditions for a WiMax deployment are the best, he says, because of limited fixed lines. That means Tata has fewer hurdles to overcome. And as WiMax scales up fast, it will give service providers greater flexibility and costs will drop equally rapidly.

"If it doesn't succeed in India, it will be difficult (for it to succeed) anywhere else, and Bharti, Tata has been virtually asleep, with a limited subscriber base for its limited product. In fact, even with as many as seven broadband providers in the market, the total Indian subscriber base is just 3.2 million and there is no clear market leader.
But with the WiMax rollout Tata can gain a leadership position and add "a few thousand subscribers a day," says Alok Sharma, chief executive of Telsima. Tata is, of course, going for the heavy-billing corporate customer - a target audience that is beginning to make big investments in technology.

Temple service via WiMax

But also important is the ordinary Indian retail customer who can watch movies via WiMax and enjoy Tata's other unique offerings. For instance, users can take in an early morning worship service at the famous Balaji temple in South India.

The temple permitted Tata to install cameras so that Hindu devotees from around the world could watch the proceedings in the temple around the clock. To get connected initially, users will simply have to go to a store, buy a router, install it, and then they become instantly connected. It will be as easy as buying apples, Tata executives promise.
The Tata rollout is a chance for India to become cutting-edge in mobile Internet services, say WiMax boosters. For India, which "always used last year's fashion to dress itself up," says Sharma, it is a chance to launch a brand new. fourth-generation technology that the world can follow. "India is becoming the knowledge centre of the world; it should take the lead in this," he adds.

There are some other bits which I got from one of VSNLs (now known as Tata Communications) presentation:

  • ISPs using 3.3GHz spectrum for WiMAX roll-out
  • At least 3 networks being built in all large towns
  • Best spectral efficiencies

Wireless Broadband opportunity in India bigger than:

  • Entire LatAm (predominantly on 3.5 GHz)
  • Korea (at 2.3 GHz)

Current deployments by Indian operators rival the biggest ofWiMAX deployments around the world. VSNL deploys the largest WiMAX network in a city across the world.

Soft launched on December 31, 2007 in BANGALORE:

  • Silicon Valley of India
  • 8 million people and over 10000 industries
  • 86% literacy ( national avg – at 61%) - second highest literacy rate for an Indian metropolis, after Mumbai.
  • More than 1000 software companies - Infosys and Wipro, India's second and third largest software companies are headquartered in Bangalore
  • The population of the IT industry folks in Bangalore is 5% i.e 400,000.
  • Bangalore's per capita income of Rs. .49,000 (US$ 1,160) is the highest for any Indian city.
  • Launched with 132 BTS, will be adding another 28 by March 2008
  • 3.3 Ghz, 12 Mhz, 3 Mhz/sector, 4 sectors85% of the city covered
  • The response has been far better than what we had anticipated
  • In 20 days we have installed an equivalent of 10% of the existing wireline base
  • Currently a huge backlog of orders to be installedCustomer experience has been fantastic
  • Additional BTS to ensure full coverage planned

Way forward:

  • Enterprise roll out into another 300 cities over the next 15 months
  • Retail roll out into another 15 – 20 cities over the next 15 months
  • Spectrum in 2.5/2.3 Ghz awaited

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Entel awards WiMAX contract to Alcatel-Lucent  

Entel S.A., the leading telecommunications operator in Bolivia, has awarded a contract to Alcatel-Lucent to build the first commercial WiMAX network in Bolivia. In a press release today, Alcatel-Lucent said that it will provide Entel with an “end-to-end WiMAX solution, including base stations, wireless access controllers, software and application platforms.” The network will support fixed and nomadic use, and ZyXEL will supply Alcatel-Lucent with the customer premises equipment.

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Beceem Introduces Single-Chip, 65 Nanometer Mobile WiMAX Chipset  

Beceem Communications announced the world’s first full-featured, 65 nanometer, single-chip WiMAX Wave 2 solution. The newest member in Beceem’s industry-leading product portfolio, the BCSM250 is the first to combine a Wave 2 baseband, dual-band radio, memory and power management in a single chip. Housed in an 11mm by 11mm package, this highly integrated solution reduces the power consumption by at least 30% from existing solutions while increasing peak data rates to 40 Mbps, thereby setting a number of new benchmarks for the industry. This combination of small form factor and low power consumption, coupled with Beceem’s proven mobile performance and wide-scale network interoperability finally allows WiMAX to be embedded in virtually any consumer device, thus accelerating its adoption by major carrier and device manufacturers.

“With the introduction of the BCSM250, Beceem continues to set the standard for WiMAX integration, robust performance, and power consumption,” said Shahin Hedayat, CEO and co-founder of Beceem Communications. “With this chip, supporting 40Mbps throughput and hand-off latency of less than 50 ms, the realization of truly Mobile Broadband connectivity is here for all devices ranging from small PC accessories, PC notebooks, mobile internet devices to handsets.”

The BCSM250 is Beceem’s 4th generation of WiMAX chips and the first WiMAX solution to combine a baseband processor, dual-band 2 GHz & 3 GHz radio, memory, power management unit and host interfaces based on 65 nanometer technology in a single chip. This high level of integration includes previously external components such as a USB 2.0 PHY and power management circuits which reduce the total number of components required for a complete Mobile WiMAX subsystem by up to 60 percent. In addition, Beceem has partnered with third-party Front End Module (FEM) manufacturers to further simplify the design and layout of any remaining, external RF-related components. Both these factors translate into significant total solution cost savings and enhanced manufacturability for OEM manufacturers.

In addition to system-level improvements, the BCSM250 also incorporates advances in WiMAX baseband technology. These improvements have been carefully devised as a result of more than three years of field test and actual network deployment experience on the world’s foremost mobile WiMAX networks and interoperability tests with the leading Telecom Equipment Manufacturers (TEMs). Built on top of its full Maximum Likelihood (ML) MIMO decoder, the BCSM250 baseband also incorporates other notable advances such as improved interference cancellation, advanced channel estimation and improved logarithmic likelihood-ratio (LLR) selection. All these improvements combine to provide best-in-class receiver performance of up to 40Mbps MIMO throughput and outstanding sustainable operation at negative signal to noise ratios. These innovations once again lead the industry and set the performance bar that is required for a true, mobile broadband experience.

The BCSM250 is sampling to customers now with production quantities expected to ship in the second half of 2008

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Xanadoo Delivers Mobile WiMAX Service to US Cities  

Cisco Systems, Inc announced that Xanadoo Company has utilized Cisco Internet Protocol Next-Generation Network (IP NGN) infrastructure to launch one of the first commercial North American mobile WiMAX broadband wireless networks. Mobile WiMAX, based on the Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (IEEE 802.16e) specification, is a mobile wireless technology that will enable high-speed Internet Protocol (IP)-based services for both businesses and consumers who want to access gaming and music, stream video and transfer large files, all while on the go.

Xanadoo selected WiMAX in order to provide mobile broadband wireless access service to markets in the United States with populations of 100,000 to 1 million. The company selected Cisco after evaluating several competitive solutions. Xanadoo’s wireless networks and portable modems are enabled by a Cisco Broadband Wireless solution and are based on Cisco IP NGN architecture.

With more than 14,000 wireless broadband customers across markets in Texas, Oklahoma and Illinois, Xanadoo, one of the largest “fourth generation” (4G) wireless operators, is using the 2.5 GHz spectrum to provide consumer and small to medium-sized business (SMB) offerings in wireless high-speed Internet and related broadband services.

“When evaluating potential WiMAX solutions the choice was clear: Cisco is a global leader in mobile WiMAX broadband wireless solutions and a market leader in advanced network technologies,” said Mark Pagon, CEO of Xanadoo. “We selected Cisco because we believed that Cisco’s innovative, beam-forming technology would make it the most cost-effective, highest-performing 4G wireless technology solution. Our experience with Cisco deployments, which now provide 4G wireless broadband to approximately 1 million covered Points of Presence, has exceeded our expectations and enabled us to compete effectively against incumbent DSL and cable providers, as well as 4G wireless Internet service providers such as Clearwire.”

Xanadoo is now expanding into new markets like Springfield and Decatur, Ill. In addition, it is upgrading its service in Texas and Oklahoma with the latest Cisco mobile WiMAX technologies. To date, Xanadoo has deployed Cisco mobile WiMAX base stations and customer premise equipment (CPE) equipment in those U.S. markets.

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GCT Semiconductor Announces the Industry’s First Single-Chip Solution Supporting Both Mobile WiMAX IEEE 802.16e WAVE 2 and WiFi 802.11 b/g  

GCT Semiconductor, a leading supplier of Mobile WiMAX solutions to the global market, today announced the world’s first highly integrated single-chip solution, GDM7215, supporting mobile WiMAX (IEEE 802.16e WAVE 2) and Wi-Fi (802.11b/g). GDM7215 implements mobile WiMAX RF/MAC/PHY and Wi-Fi RF/MAC/PHY on a monolithic die. This solution is being demonstrated on an Ultra Mobile PC (UMPC) with WiMAX and Wi-Fi connectivity during the CTIA wireless event at the Las Vegas Convention Center, in GCT’s meeting room MR-789 in Hall C5. Samples are now being provided to alpha customers and production will begin in the third quarter of this year.

GDM7215 supports multimode wireless connectivity with its on-chip RF transceivers, allowing seamless broadband and local wireless roaming. Based on GCT’s industry-proven CMOS RF technology, the new GDM7215 integrates WiMAX and Wi-Fi radios, a high performance ARM9 RISC processor along with a 32-bit uniscalar DSP, and a full range of advanced interfaces for network, storage, and audio/visual device applications.

“Last fall GCT announced the world’s first single-chip solution for 2.5GHz Wave 2 Mobile WiMAX,” commented Dr. Kyeongho (KH) Lee, President and CEO of GCT Semiconductor. “Today we are announcing the next device in our WiMAX roadmap which furthers our leadership position by enabling WiFi/WiMAX dual-mode connectivity in an easy to implement solution. We are pleased to be the first to offer such a product with complete WiMAX and WiFi functionality fully integrated in a single monolithic silicon die. We expect this solution will replace WiFi-only solutions currently in use for handhelds, laptops, MIDs and UMPCs; and will greatly contribute to the market expansion of Mobile WiMAX embedded devices.”

“GCT Semiconductor’s dual mode WiFi/WiMAX chip will allow mobile device users to take advantage of both WiFi local area networks and the XOHM WiMAX network while on the go,” said Bin Shen, Vice President of Product Management and Partnership Development at Sprint’s XOHM business unit. “By developing a single chip that supports both of these complementary wireless technologies, GCT is enhancing the convenience, affordability, and versatility of embedded devices which is beneficial to both device makers and end users.”

GDM7215 supports all the essential features of mobile WiMAX for the 2 GHz band, including implementation of MISO (two receivers and a single transmitter) and Category-4 H-ARQ (Hybrid automatic repeat-request). It also fully supports Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g) functionality including advanced power management and coexistence support. Due to its optimized design and unique architecture, GDM7215 provides a best-in-class solution for power consumption, size, and multi-mode Wi-Fi/WiMAX connectivity. The low power consumption and robust coexistence scheme eases development of highly compact modules needed by portable and mobile applications.

GDM7215 was designed to be an easy (hardware and software) upgrade for GDM7205 which is GCT’s WiMAX-only (2.5GHz IEEE 802.16e WAVE 2) single-chip device that was announced in September 2007 and is now in production. With proper planning, GDM7215 can fit on the same footprint used for GDM7205 and allow ODMs/OEMs to easily enhance their designs to support WiMAX/Wi-Fi dual operation. GDM7215 also supports 16 bit memory, SDIO and USB2.0 interfaces.

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Taiwan’s Institute for Information Industry and Newport Digital Technologies to Deliver E-Learning Solutions and Launch a Low-Cost WiMAX Notebook  

The Institute for Information Industry (III) and Newport Digital Technologies (NDT) announced a collaboration to develop and deliver e-Learning solutions in the America’s and the South Pacific.

Covering over 120,000 students and connecting 1,000 classrooms upon full deployment, the e-Learning network will start with several pilot projects in the South Pacific and expand across several countries in the region. III and NDT will build a WiMAX infrastructure on which to place its eLearning platform, and will provide tens of thousands of students with durable notebooks for accessing the net.

III has developed a DLMS (Distributed Learning Management System) which passes SCORM 1.2 Level 3 and 2004 Conformance Test Suites. III has also developed a Learning Content Authoring Tool — an integrated content editing software which is deployed on III’s ADOC project for APEC, an eight-country project connecting 30,000 students.

Said Ms. Elsie Kao from III’s International Group: “Taiwan has been a major and substantial donor and benefactor in the South Pacific and it’s from this experience and regional resources do we see an opportunity to expand our wireless technologies in the region. How we differ from the OLPC program is that we feel that a wireless infrastructure must first be in place to accommodate the notebook or the program will be a failure, without a reliable energy source, fully functional notebook, and a stable speedy internet connection the potential of the OLPC will never be seen.”

III is collaborating with the largest notebook pc manufacturer, which produces one out of every three notebooks in the world and is expected to start shipping in May 2008. The 7″-LCD notebook will be the lowest-cost notebook available loaded with a Linux operating system, a suite full of applications, a WebCam, WLAN/Wi-Fi, a 512 MB Memory, 2GB Storage, speakers, 2 USB ports, Hi Def Audio and a 4 Cell Li-Ion Battery. So as to achieve the economies of scale for a low-cost release, NDT will channel 350,000 units in North America this year with a suggested retail price of $295. An 8.9″ and a 10.2″ notebook with a touch screen, GPS and WiMAX/Wi-Fi will be released in July and August respectively.

NDT will focus on the distribution of III’s low-cost notebook in the America’s and South Pacific which is expected to generate up to US$75,000,000 in revenues in 2008/09, as well as III’s WiMAX base stations in the South Pacific with over 200 deployments planned during the same period. III will continue to provide NDT with technical support, along with marketing and sales resources for this expansion. Sales are projected to grow by 35% annually during the next three years.

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Motorola Announces Wireless Products for CTIA  

Today Motorola announced several new media solutions for consumers. Six new products - ranging from a CDMA-based femtocell to a plug-and-play desktop for indoor fixed WiMAX deployments - will debut at next week’s CTIA, April 1-3, 2008 in Las Vegas.

  • Motorola’s Mobile TV DH02. A touch screen device for multimedia entertainment, TV and navigation on the go. It is said to feature Live DVB-H TV with PVR capabilities – timeshift, live pause, frame grabbing. Of course finding a live DVB-H transmitter in the USofA might be tricky.
  • Motorola Long Term Evolution (LTE) Demos. Motorola will demonstrate its Long Term Evolution (LTE) solutions at CTIA Wireless 2008.
  • CDMA Femtocell. Motorola will demonstrate its expanded femtocell portfolio, including its CDMA solution. It’s an expansion of its current line of 3G UMTS femtocell CPE announced at Mobile World Congress last month.
  • A Common Wireless Broadband Platform to Support Both WiMAX and LTE. The new common wireless broadband platform will be used to support both WiMAX 802.16e access points and the Long Term Evolution (LTE) evolved Node-B (eNodeB). The new common platform is physically smaller than the first generation WiMAX product and can be software configurable to support either WiMAX or LTE.
  • The WiMAX Wave-2 Ready CPEi 150. The plug-and-play desktop CPEi 150 for indoor fixed WiMAX deployments, is 802.16e-compliant Wave-2 ready.
  • CDMA/EV-DO Rev-A to LTE Network Handoffs. Motorola today announced the first successful packet-switched network handoff between CDMA EV-DO Rev-A and Long Term Evolution (LTE) technologies. Motorola says it illustrates how service providers using CDMA-based networks today can smoothly integrate LTE into their network.

Motorola, with partners Intel, Clearwire and XOHM, will offer mobile WiMAX “test drives” around the Las Vegas Convention Center to demonstrate WiMAX from an end user’s perspective, as they did at CES earlier this year and more recently at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

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FCC: Go For 3.65GHz, Airspan  

Airspan announced today that it has obtained FCC certification (pdf) to market its compact MicroMAX base station in the 3.65 GHz frequency band as well as the full suite of subscriber devices including the indoor EasyST and outdoor ProST, both of which also support optional WiFi and VoIP extensions.

This new certification follows the FCC approval at the end of 2007 of Airspan’s HiperMAX base station in the 3.65GHz band, now making available to US customers a full complement of products.

HiperMAX and MicroMAX base stations have been broadly deployed internationally.

Declan Byrne, Airspan’s Chief Marketing Officer, commented, “We are now among a very select group of equipment providers with FCC certified solutions in 3.65GHz, and we are excited to offer a range of best in breed, competitively-priced, and field-proven base station and CPE products to the US Carrier community. This is a very attractive market space with dozens of new entrants and Airspan is quickly claiming first mover advantage.

New customer wins for their 3.65GHz Product suite include KeyOn Communications (to over 13,000 households in Pahrump, Nevada), and Le-Ru Telecom (in rural Missouri).

The “lightly regulated” 3.65 - 3.7 GHz band, is non-exclusive, but does require base station registration and a filing fee for the spectrum by each provider. This is close to the unlicensed-band approach, aside from the registration and fee.

The block of 50 MHz spectrum boasts a mid-range blend of power allotment (higher than unlicensed spectrum and lower than licensed spectrum) that has a lot of utility, especially for rural providers. A restriction of WiMAX gear to the lower 25 MHz is designed to prevent interference with unrestricted protocols in the upper 25 MHz.

In June 2007, the FCC opened up the 3.65 - 3.7 GHz band (FCC-05-56 pdf and FCC-07-99 pdf), in an attempt to ‘encourage multiple entrants and stimulate the expansion of broadband service to rural and under served areas,’ with applications for nationwide licenses being accepted from November 15, 2007. Since then, manufacturers of existing 3.5GHz WiMAX products have been working to have their products certified by the FCC, with Redline Communications being the first to announce a 3.65 GHz product to be approved for operation in the United States.” PDQLink, a Wireless Internet Service Provider in Illinois is also testing Redline’s 3.65 GHz RedMAX products.

Redline’s WiMAX products also include the RedMAX Indoor Subscriber Unit (SU-I) and Outdoor Subscriber Unit (SU-O) designed for enterprise and residential services, as well as a software management suite.

The FCC’s 3650-3700 MHz band requires fixed and base stations be at least 150 km from 86 grandfathered earth stations without consent, or within 80 km of three federal radar facilities without successful coordination. The rules give the locations of these facilities. The FCC’s public notice is available here (pdf).

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Motorola Powers Up WiMAX with WAP 450  

Motorola announced today that it is expanding their wi4 WiMAX access point portfolio with the introduction of the new 802.16e Wave 2-ready WAP 450. The WAP 450 access point uses the recently announced 4G common broadband base control unit.

It has a smaller common equipment cabinet and a more powerful tower-top RF module than the 400 series (right), delivering up to 10 watts of power output per sector at the antenna port. That’s comparable to 20 watts or more power of a traditional ground base station which typically looses half of its power in the RF cables, says Motorola.

The new product will be available in the 2.3 GHz, 2.5 GHz and 3.5 GHz frequency bands commonly used by WiMAX operators worldwide.

The WAP 450 is WiMAX Wave 2-ready and incorporates diversity antenna techniques which allow the realization of Multiple-Input, Multiple-Output (MIMO) capability offering greater range performance, improved in building penetration along with full mobility support.

With an ultra light infrastructure, highly integrated design, and very low power consumption, is said to speed installation and simplifies infrastructure.

The WAP 450 is scheduled to be available in Q4 2008 in the 2.3 GHz and 2.5 GHz bands and Q1 2009 in the 3.5 GHz frequency band.

Clearwire is rolling out Mobile WiMAX in the Portland region using Motorola gear. Here’s an installation near the DailyWireless office I shot last week.

For the last four years, Scott Richardson, the chief strategy officer for Clearwire, has heard every year that “this is the year of WiMAX.” Richardson laughs now when asked if 2008 is the “year of WiMAX”, says Wireless Week. But, he says, “I think clearly WiMAX has gone through the hype cycle and now it is a reality.”

Clearwire, founded in 2003 by Craig McCaw, launched its first market, Jacksonville, Fla., in 2004 and now has 50 commercial markets. Four of those are foreign markets, in Europe and Mexico. It has more than 400,000 subscribers, growing subscribers in 2007 at a 91% clip through 14 new market launches and increases in existing markets.

Clearwire has been using pre-WiMAX equipment for its first markets but started trials with mobile WiMAX infrastructure in 2007, including Portland, Ore. It plans to start installing WiMAX equipment in the second half of 2008, although the operator hasn’t detailed how it will do that. Richardson says Clearwire may use dual-mode devices to support both technologies and may overlay WiMAX equipment on its existing markets.

Motorola demonstrated live handoffs using mobile WiMAX on different basestations today in Singapore. Participants in a bus tour are able to experience various mobile applications including video conferencing, web browsing and mobile streaming while moving past access point sites along the bus route. The WiMAX Forum Congress Asia 2008 is being held in Singapore this week.

In related news, Siemens introduced their SE68 WiMAX Express Card which combines two integrated antennas which support MIMO (Matrix A and B) and adaptive beamforming to boost signal strength between the base station and WiMAX devices. It also employs Space-Time-Coding (STC) and Spatial Multiplexing (SM) to improve coverage and effectively double the data throughput. Siemens WiMAX portfolio also includes WIMAX devices as well as home media products such as set-top boxes.

The WiMAX World EMEA Exhibition will be held May 19-21, in Munich. It’s co-located with the Mobile Internet World Europe Summit.

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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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Nokia Tablet as PVR  

Nokia announced the WiMAX-enabled version of the N810 tablet at CTIA Wireless 2008 last week. It can be used on the Sprint/Clearwire XOHM network later this year.

Now Monsoon Multimedia has announced support its HAVA player on the tablet, allowing customers to view and control their home TV from anywhere in the world over WiMAX or Wi-Fi. It will be available by June for the Nokia Webtablet as a free direct download.

The TV source is connected to the HAVA device installed in your home (which costs $99-$250).
Users can view their home TV on multiple PCs within the home network or simultaneously on a Nokia Internet Tablet at home or anywhere in the world over the internet. The company says it has “all the functionality of a Slingbox, but with many more features.” The SlingPlayer Mobile also runs on Symbian phones.

HAVA provides controls for Pause, Play, Rewind, Skip, Record, Guide, Menu, Navigation using touch-screen (stylus) inputs or key press inputs on the tablet. The Tablet can also function as a “PVR-on-the-go”, allowing users to record their favorite TV shows and later watch them on their tablets from local memory.

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