WiMAX backers boost tech capabilities to feed data demand

As the WiMAX Forum Global Congress 2010 kicks off in Amsterdam on Wednesday, backers of the technology proposed enhancements to the 802.16e standard which will bridge the gap with the next generation 802.16m platform.

WiMAX Forum members and technical experts from Alvarion, Beceem, Clearwire, Fujitsu, GCT Semiconductor, Hitachi, Huawei, Intel, Motorola, NEC, Samsung, Sequans, UQ and ZTE have drafted proposals to extend the lifespan of current 802.16e deployments.

The proposed enhancements – dubbed 802.16e+ -are to be implemented in future WiMAX products in a way that further ensures their interoperability and broad commercial availability, specifically addressing: increased data uplink and downlink budgets that improve the performance of WiMAX devices operating at the outer edges of a cell or enable the service provider to increase the coverage of a given cell; up to 70 per cent improved spectral efficiency and an associated potential doubling of peak data rates; reduced signal interference; and improved frequency reuse.

Speaking to at the show, Sarah Xu, senior director of global marketing for WiMAX at ZTE, said the improvements were designed to head off the competition from FDD LTE by making .16e more competitive. “The Forum proposed 16e+ so we can still keep the technology advantage before operators need to upgrade to 16m,” Xu said.

“The big issue for operators is how to increase the effectiveness of the 10MHz of spectrum they typically own. With .16e+ operators don’t have to wait for .16m, and the enhancements are done purely in the software so you don’t need to change handsets or hardware,” she added.

According to the WiMAX Forum, equipment that incorporates these new enhancements will be validated before the end of this year, which would lead to certified products from multiple vendors starting in 2011.

The enhancements are likely to be warmly welcomed by WiMAX poster child and US operator Clearwire, which is experiencing consumer hunger for nomadic wireless data services first hand. At the conference Ron Marquardt, vice president of technology for Clearwire, revealed that the carrier’s mobile WiMAX users on average, are “consuming more than seven gigabytes of data every month,” a number that is nothing short of staggering.

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