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The group behind both fixed and mobile WiMax flavors offers a chunk of very technical details about mobile WiMax’s characteristics: This is the first of two parts, providing a huge amount of extremely technical detail about how signals will be encoded, provisioned, and propagated, including quality of service (QoS) tagging. There’s some interesting detail in how frequency and time diversity in the use of OFDMA—an encoding method that divides a spectrum band into narrow sub-carriers—can allow many simultaneous users to have a high degree of reliable provisioned service that’s designed to minimize interface. In Wi-Fi, all devices use the entire range of frequencies while transmitting; with mobile WiMax, there will be dynamic sub-carrier and time slot assignments.
The second part of this report will compare cellular technology with mobile WiMax.
The Tsunami MP.16 system uses the common 3.5 GHz licensed band in Europe, Asia: The company says the product is in trials with nine firms in two continents. This band is not yet sorted out for use in the U.S., but is widely expected to lead licensed fixed WiMax deployments in Europe. The product is in queue for certification.
Superb Wired News article addresses the present and future of WiMax: Joanna Glasner expertly distinguishes the kinds of WiMax coming to market in a way that mainstream business reporters have proved incapable while she still keeps the technology comprehensible to a broad audience. The article has some very reasonable quotes from cell phone technology inventor Marty Cooper, who has made broader statements in the past about Wi-Fi and WiMax.
Glasner notes one of the biggest current drawbacks to fixed WiMax, which is that most of the companies who are early out of the gate are startups, and thus have little track record (although often great executive and engineering pedigrees), and have new, unproven equipment.
Now, I’ve asked a question of every startup that’s tried to explain to me over the last few years how carriers will buy their equipment: Tell me why carriers will purchase something from you when they typically require multiple bidders with interoperable devices? I get hemming and hawing and descriptions of potential deals, and then those companies disappear or change market segments.
The city considers single mobile WiMax base station in late 2007: Folsom has 7,000 Intel workers, and instead of adding municipal Wi-Fi, might put up a mobile WiMax base station that could provide a basic level of service across the town. I don’t know that one would do it; that seems awfully optimistic regardless of technology and what occurs between now and late 2007. However, they will conduct a feasibility study. With Intel in town, one might expect some subsidization or support, too, as an early testbed.
Part of the plan is to offer service that’s clearly not competitive with wired broadband, but rather focuses entirely on a level of service appropriate for mobile users.
The article doesn’t differentiate between fixed WiMax, well on the way to full certification and deployed extensively in early forms, and mobile WiMax, which has had limited pre-standards deployments outside the U.S., notably in the form known as WiBro in South Korea. Mobile WiMax won’t have the same range and speed as fixed, but it will work in licensed bands and require less infrastructure than Wi-Fi for the same coverage.