Questions Raised About WiMAX Certification


A presentation by the CETECOM laboratory responsible for WiMAX testing this week raised additional questions about the viability of the certification process.

Several vendors appear prepared to skip the first wave of compatibility testing, only applying for logo certification when the tests themselves meet their customers’ needs, according to industry executives and analysts. Meanwhile, the procedure of the tests themselves leaves some doubt whether the first wave will produce meaningful results, given the number of products submitted and CETECOM’s methodology.

The WiMAX Forum, which will rubber-stamp the certification testing performed by the Spanish laboratory with its logo, is concerned that a random base station will not connect to or interoperate with customer-premise equipment (CPE), the WiMAX router that will be installed in a customer’s home or office.

Since the very first WiMAX products will use fixed antennas similar to a television aerial, the need to test a base station designed for the 3.5-GHz frequency used in Europe and Asia with a CPE intended for the U.S. market isn’t necessary. But as lower-cost “nomadic” devices become available, the test parameters will widen, until a second system profile for the next-generation 802.6e mobile standard will have to be developed.

One of the problems is that, at least initially, the number of WiMAX devices will be limited. Moreover, the number of devices that CETECOM is testing is far less than other standards like Wi-Fi, even when compared to the earliest days of the 802.11 specification, when the number of devices on the market was small.


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