Report from the Taipei WiMAX Summit
ITU-R had blessed IEEE 802.16m earlier this year, as the first true 4G RAN technology (along with LTE Advanced). That standard is to be finalized and approved in March of this year. The 2011 Taipei WiMAX Summit, held by Taiwan`s Ministry of Economic Affair officials on Jan. 10 at Grand Hotel in conjunction with week-long IEEE 802.16 meeting and WiMAX Forum Global Operator Summit, have drawn over 100 global WiMAX operators to the island. That’s quite positive for the local Taiwanese WiMAX equipment makers. Let’s hope they’re not disappointed!
IEEE 802.16’s Session #71 was held on 10-13 January 2011 in Taipei. This Interim Session of the Working Group was sponsored by ITRI and MediaTek, with Global Mobile providing WiMAX-based network services. The 802.16m editors will prepare a final draft standard – P802.16m/D11- which the 802.16 WG will vote on as a confirmation recirculation ballot for final standard approval.The IEEE 802.16 Session #71 Report summarizes the outcomes: <http://ieee802.org/16/meetings/mtg71/report.html>.
The next IEEE 802.16 meeting (Session #72) will take place on 14-17 March 2011 in Singapore: Here’s the meeting announcement:
Here’s an upbeat article on WiMAX 2.0 from Taipei:
“The next generation of the WiMAX standard will be commercialized this year, industry officials promised as they gathered in Taiwan for technology meetings last week. WiMAX2, based on the 802.16m standard, will be backwards compatible with the current Mobile WiMAX platform, but with faster data rates, and enhanced security and power efficiency. It will also support wide 20MHz channels.
The Taipei meetings were a prelude to the finalization of the IEEE’s 16m standard in March, which would set the scene for products to appear at the end of this year. The certification and interoperability testing processes, which were lengthy for the current 16e platform, should be far quicker this time, because it is an extension of an existing standard, and because many lessons have been learned about how OFDMA-based devices behave.
Once 16m is approved this quarter, manufacturers will be able to pre-install the technology and begin the testing programs. Rakesh Taori, vice chair of the 802.16 working group, told IDG that key enhancements will be better battery life for devices; privacy protection for users and their locations; and the doubling of bandwidth, which will enable data rates that will leapfrog those of LTE and get closer to the goal of ‘true 4G’, at 100Mbps while mobile.
Taiwan’s state-run Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) is working closely with 10 local manufacturers to kickstart the uptake of WiMAX2. Taiwan has been a critical player in the WiMAX market, placing the weight of its vast manufacturing community behind the technology and aiming to create a national mobile broadband network based on 16e. This is a technology that Taiwan feels it can influence in IPR terms too, unlike 3GPP standards. An ITRI engineer, Song Ting-chen, said in an interview: “That way we’ll be able to exercise our competitiveness in terms of patents or our manufacturing. Some of our contributions have already been accepted by the international community.”
We continue to believe that IEEE 802.16m will be a “paper tiger” standard and while the technology specs are impressive, any implementations will be DOA. In particular, we wonder if any large network operator will deploy WiMAX 2.0? Doesn’t look like it will be Sprint or Clearwire, who are testing LTE instead. If it’s just UQ Communications in Japan and a few small Taiwanese carriers, that’s hardly enough to establish volumes of scale (critical mass) that are needed to drive the manufacturing costs down.
Moreover, there don’t seem to be any prototype chips or emulators available for testing WiMAX 2.0 this Spring. And we just heard that WiMAX super cheerleader Intel has closed it’s WiMAX Program Office. So where does that leave WiMAX 2.0 implementations?
Most people don’t want to admit it, but IEEE 802 has consistently failed in producing standards for commercially viable MAN/WAN technologies. The list of failures includes IEEE 802.6 DQDB, 802.3ah Ethernet First Mile (EFM), 802.17 Resilient Packet Rings, 802.20 Mobile Broadband Wireless Access, and 802.22 Cognitive Radio based Regional Area Networks. We think 802.16e-2005 WiMAX 1.0 can succeed as a wireless DSL replacement in developing countries and in rural areas of developed countries. But it can’t compete with 3G+/LTE which makes it exremely difficult to justify infrastructure for WiMAX 2.0.
Would welcome any challenges to these opinions in the comment box below.