Amidst all the new hype surrounding the ratification of the Mobile WiMax protocol – and despite some vendors claiming to provide WiMAX products – at present, only a pre-WiMAX solution exists and most vendors are undergoing the WiMAX Forum certification testing for 802.16d (the fixed wireless broadband standard). Conformance testing procedures will be held towards the end of 2005 to determine if the specifications of a vendor’s equipment comply with the Protocol Implementation Conformation Statement (PICS).
One research analyst believes that, “Once fixed WiMAX i.e. 802.16d equipment get WiMAX certified, service providers would be more forthcoming in rolling out a nationwide WiMAX service in the licensed bands”, says Luke Thomas, Senior Research Analyst at Frost and Sullivan (http://wireless.frost.com).
However, the time-to-market issue challenges the success of the WiMAX market, with the first WiMAX certified 802.16d product anticipated to penetrate the market only by the first half of 2006.
“Also, with continued delays in the certification process with 802.16d and issues pertaining to spectrum allocation, other competing technologies such as Wi-Fi and 3G will gain more momentum within the European wireless industry,” cautions Mr. Thomas.
The mobile standard, 802.16e is the major driver in the European WiMAX market, which has succeeded in creating the hype that surrounds WiMAX. Using scalable orthogonal frequency division multiple access (S-OFDMA) technology, it will offer an immediate portable solution, and ultimately a full-scale mobile solution, unlike the 802.16d standard.
However, the 802.16e – ratified over the last few days of 2005 – and the subsequent certification testing will only take place in the third or fourth quarter of 2006. “As the mobile WiMAX, 802.16e, will be a published standard only by the end of 2005, there are growing concerns if service providers need to immediately roll out a fixed 802.16d network or wait for the fixed/portable 802.16e standard,” explains Mr. Thomas. “Also, as 802.16d is not compatible with 802.16e, the business model would vary considerably, depending on which standard the service provider decides to deploy.”
Therefore, the researchers believe that this delay in the rollout of certified 802.16e products will spur the usage of WiMax as a cost-effective backhaul solution to Wi-Fi hotspots. Moreover, a backhaul solution in the licensed spectrum will result in inefficient usage of the available spectrum and service providers will find it uneconomical to deploy a WiMAX solution in the presence of a third generation (3G) network rollout.