700Mhz Goes Commercial


 

Tim Higgins says southwestern Virginia is getting commercial broadband wireless service using Flarion’s Flash OFDM.

The 700MHz band is said to deliver superior in-building signals and/or goes 2-4 times further than either cellular or WiMax frequencies (at 2.5 GHz). This results in 50-75% less capital to build the same network. Aloha’s Tucson trial supports an average data rate of around 1.5 Mbit/s, using only 1.25 MHz of spectrum in the 700 Mhz band.

Citizens Wireless has started deployment of a wireless broadband network to cover Blacksburg, Christian

Sprint + Motorola Test WiMax


 

Sprint said on Thursday it agreed to run technology tests with Motorola this year and next year for future high-speed wireless networks.

The collaboration is expected to spur IEEE 802.16e (2.5GHz) development, validate vendor solutions and help formulate network architecture strategies, says Motorola in a press release.

The technical assessment involves lab testing of base station equipment, smart antenna technology and multimedia handsets and field trials in certain locations as a basis for additional business case evaluation.

Successful outcomes will lead to customer demonstrations and further user studies for market applicability.

Sprint is fostering a number of strategic partnerships and investigating multiple technologies in support of future wireless interactive multimedia services,” explained Oliver Valente, Sprint CTO and VP for technology development. WiMAX is one of the technologies Sprint is investigating for services which would be considered for deployment in the 2.5 GHz band of spectrum.

Sprint and Nextel, combined, have 2.5 Ghz spectrum in 80 of the top 100 U.S. markets.

In May, Sprint said it would conduct trials with Intel. Earlier this week, Nextel said they will trial broadband wireless gear from IPWireless in Washington DC. IPWireless uses a CDMA-based time-division duplex (TDD) data system. Similar to most implementations of OFDM-based WiMax, IP Wireless uses unpaired spectrum, sending and receiving data on one channel rather than two.

WiMax is said to provide faster speeds although IP Wireless can deliver better mobility than the first generation of (fixed) WiMax.

In related news, Navini says they’ll begin shipping a dual-mode customer premisis equipment, the Ripwave-MX in Q4 2005, with the Ripwave-MX dual-mode PCMCIA card targeted for 1Q 2006. Both will be software upgradeable to Navini s 802.16e system.

Dual-mode means that the CPE (also dubbed LCD CPE to underscore its cellular like ease of activation) and the PCMCIA card will be capable of switching between the current pre-WiMAX mode and 802.16e mode.

The Ripwave-MX BTS, targeted for 1st half of 2006, will be software upgradeable to 802.16e and will continue to support the Smart Antenna functionality available from Navini today. This, in conjunction with the Ripwave EMS that will support both the Navini pre-WIMAX and WiMAX network, will facilitate a smooth transition to 802.16e.

Starting with a plug-n-play portable solution today, as opposed to a fixed solution, sets up the operator to better evolve to a fully mobile network with ubiquitous coverage that supports hand-overs and vehicular mobility”, said Adlane Fellah, Senior Analyst, Maravedis, Inc. “Given the fact that 802.16e is not fully ratified yet and CPE chipsets will be available in volumes only late next year, an evolutionary approach makes perfect sense.”

Navini operates the world s largest plug-n-play network in Sydney, Australia, and recently announced a deal with BellSouth to unwire Athens, Georgia. Both are deploying the plug-n-play zero-install Ripwave solution today and expect to upgrade to the 802.16e Mobile WiMAX standard in the future.

“The Navini Networks transition path to mobile WiMAX 802.16e is excellent,” said David Spence, CEO Unwired Australia. Unwired plans to be one of the first wireless broadband carriers in the world to move to the mobile WiMAX standard and Navini’s products will enable us to do this in a very cost-effective and consumer friendly way.”

DailyWireless has more on WiMax: On The Move, Navini’s Mobile WiMax, and Arraycomm + Intel Beam WiMax.

 

Linksys Adds External MIMO Antennas


 

Roger Ryder tells DailyWireless that the MIMO-enabled Linksys SRX wireless router (the ugly one with three antennas) is apparently upgrading their system to add external antennas.

The new WMP54GX and WMP54GX PCI Card will include SMA connectors so you could screw in your own antenna(s). The unit will ship with 2dBi gain antennas, but now will be able to use other antennas, such as the Linksys 7dBi omni antennas (the HGA7S). LinksysInfo founder, James Depew, says:

At ~$40 a piece, this could be quite the expensive upgrade to what likely will be an already expensive adapter, but could provide a viable solution for those looking for the max in wireless range and throughput performance.  

 

While not yet on the Linksys page, the LinksysInfo page, a popular hobbyist site, has information on the new hardware.

LinksysInfo says the new products with external MIMO antenna connectors will join the current WPC54GX PC Card Adapter and WRT54GX Router. Apparently it’s an unannounced upgrade to the (non-removeable) WRT54GX. James Depew bought one at a local electronics superstore and shot the photos (below).

 

 

 

 

The 3 SMA removable antennas are listed as ver2.0. The product box does not state the version change, but the image on the front is different and features the new antenna setup. For anyone looking to pick one up, the image of the router on the box clearly shows the removable antennas.

The WAP54GX Access Point, featuring removable SMA connector antennas, is designed around Airgo Networks MIMO chips.

What kind of range could get with three 12dBi Omni antennas ($60 each), or three 16 db Yagi antennas ($35 each)?

Why not try it out!

 

 

Alvarion WiMax CPE


 

Alvarion today announced the BreezeMAX Si, a self-installable, indoor WiMAX-ready customer premises equipment (CPE).

It’s based on the IEEE 802.16-2004 standard and uses Intel’s 5116 WiMax chip. Available for customer trials later this year, the BreezeMAX Si is being demonstrated at the WCA annual show, June 29-30, in Washington, D.C.

The BreezeMAX Si is said to be a WiMAX standard-based solutions that can be quickly deployed. In addition, it enables centrally provisioned, portable connectivity for subscribers to use the CPE in various points within the network coverage and re-connect to the service after moving from one location to another.

 

 

 

 

The BreezeMAX Si is said to combine easy plug-and-play CPE installation and relocation with the performance and reliability. This new indoor CPE, together with outdoor CPEs, offers carriers optimization of their network planning by trading-off coverage, capacity and installation costs. With the elimination of professional installation, this self-install unit enables carriers to vary their distribution channels to best fit their business models.

Features of the BreezeMAX Si include:

  • WiMAX-ready technology with Intel PRO/Wireless 5116 broadband interface chip 
  • Six-element beam switching antenna design, providing 360 degree coverage with iFAS – intelligent Fast Antenna Selection algorithm that ensures instant selection of best antenna, interference immunity and reduced signal fading 
  • OFDM and OFDMA radio technology for improved indoor penetration and NLOS operation 
  • Central provisioning and authentication architecture that enables immediate connectivity at any point of coverage within the BreezeMAX network 
  • Quick installation using SIM card or user-friendly installation utility. End user can self-install the BreezeMAX Si CPE and get broadband connectivity instantly.

 

Alvarion previously launched its WiMAX-ready BreezeMAX 3500 (in the 3.5 Ghz band) and had live demonstration of triple play services with a WiMAX-ready CPE using the Intel PRO/Wireless 5116 broadband interface, showcased in April of this year. “BreezeMAX Si represents another significant achievement in Alvarion realizing its WiMAX vision of broadband everywhere. It’s small, attractive shape contains the most advanced WiMAX technology on the market today making it easy to deploy and easy to use,” said Zvi Slonimsky, CEO of Alvarion.

Once equipment is certified and hits the mainstream, 30% of the world’s broadband connections will be done using WiMax, predicts Carlton O’Neal, a VP of marketing at Alvarion and a member of the WiMax Forum, an organization formed to promote and certify WiMax equipment.

“As WiMax becomes a mainstream technology it will be used by phone companies, cable companies, mobile wireless carriers, utility companies, enterprises, and many more,” O’Neal says.

 

WiMax System Performance

Range 4-6 miles > 6 miles

 

 

 

Meanwhile, Wavesat, the first out of the gate with a WiMax chip (this January), today introduced a 208 pin BGA (ball grid array) package option for its Evolutive WiMAX DM256 Family of Products. It is said to be the smallest package currently available for 802.16-2004 compliant chips. The DM256 BGA package significantly reduces area size, providing OEM’s & ODM’s with an ideal WiMAX tool for small form-factor applications.

Wavesat will team with nex-G Systems, to incorporate Wavesat’s WiMAX chipset, the Evolutive DM256, as part of nex-G Horizon 802.16-2004 product platform for the unlicensed 5.8 GHz band. nex-G is planning to conduct field trials this summer. Meanwhile, Zarlink Semiconductor and Wavesat demonstrated circuit-switched traffic over WiMAX, carrying E1 and T1 services across a WiMAX connection, using CESoP technology.

Related DailyWireless articles include; WiMax Procession, WiMax 16d+ Dilemma, WiMax: Will It Stay or Will It Go?, Toyko Gets WiMaxed, China WiMax, Intel Mobile Platforms, 802.16 Chips Partner Up, Alvarion Promotes Mobile WiMax,

 

Ericsson + Airspan


 

Airspan today announced that it has signed an agreement with Ericsson, a leading telecom supplier, to distribute and sell Airspan’s AS.MAX family of WiMAX products. The Agreement gives Ericsson worldwide rights to resell Airspan’s HiperMAX, MacroMAX and MicroMAX base-station products, as well as EasyST and ProST customer premise equipment.

Airspan’s AS.MAX product family has been designed for indoor, self-installable deployment of customer premises equipment. The EasyST is the first product of its type to offer fully indoor plug-and-play WiMAX services. The product family will be commercially available in the third quarter 2005.

Airspan Networks provides wireless voice and data systems and solutions, including Voice Over IP (VoIP), to both licensed and unlicensed operators around the world in frequency bands between 700 MHz and 6 GHz, including both PCS and 3.5GHz international bands.

Airspan also offers radio planning, network installation, integration, training and support services to facilitate the deployment and operation of its systems. Airspan is headquartered in Boca Raton, Florida with its main operations center in Uxbridge, United Kingdom.

 

Portland Approves Wireless Cloud RFP


 

Portland’s long discussed “city cloud”, may be moving out of the talk stage and into the RFP stage.

Today the Portland City Council is scheduled to vote on whether to authorize Portland’s Bureau of Technology Services to seek a contractor to build and operate a privately funded broadband wireless network, reports The Oregonian. The project is estimated to cost $10 million to $25 million.

UPDATE: The Portland City Council unanimously approved, this morning, the issuance of an RFP for a city-wide wireless network.

 

 

Backers — including the city, the Portland School District, the Portland Development Commission and nonprofits — originally hoped to have the system online last year, but now say it could be up and running in 2006.

According to the Development Commission’s FAQ:

The Committee of the Unwire Portland initiative will propose that a private firm finance, deploy, operate and maintain the Network using private financing. This is attractive because it does not require use of taxpayer dollars and limits the City’s exposure to potential problems with technologies, equipment, or operations and maintenance.The City will potentially buy services on the Network, initially services it currently contracts for at reduced rates, and eventually new services that will help the City streamline its processes and reduce its costs. In this capacity, the City will assist the Network owner by providing a steady revenue stream to offset the risks associated with its initial capital investment while it looks for customers.

The City will also discuss access to publicly owned assets such as building rooftops, traffic signals, street lights and communication towers at reduced rates. The City may pay for services on the Network, or it may bargain for services in exchange for use of its assets. All of this is subject to negotiation with the selected Firm.

 

By 2006, the three major cell phone companies, Verizon, Sprint and Cingular will likely be offering their own high-speed wireless access (for $79/month or less), explains the Oregonian article.

“If we could afford the high-speed services that are available on the cell networks, then it might make sense to just go with that,” said Marshall Runkel, an aide to Commissioner Erik Sten. “But we’re thinking we could get a better deal.”

Instead of using tax dollars, the city’s plan calls for contracting with a private company that would build, own and pay for the wireless network. In exchange, Portland would offer free access to city property where the company could put its antennas.

Portland would also agree to be an “anchor tenant” for the network, paying to use the new wireless system to collect data from parking meters or connect to remote city offices. Backers estimate that building the network could cost up to $25 million and say that having the city as a big customer would provide the owner with some assurance the network will be profitable.

 

 

Project Schedule

RFP issue date
7/27/05
Pre-Submittal Conference
8/10/05
Written Proposals Due
9/28/05
Interviews with Finalists
11/02/05
Selection Committee Recommendation
11/09/05
Contract Negotiation with Selected Consultant
12/01/05
Notice to Proceed – Work Begins
12/22/05

 

 

 

Dan Greenfield, an EarthLink spokesman, told The Oregonian that a city-sponsored wireless systems like Portland’s might be an increasingly important alternative to cable and DSL for his company. “We are looking to explore municipal broadband as a third way into the home as a way to extend our broadband reach,” he said.

 

 

Nigel Ballard (above), Director of Wireless for Matrix Networks, wrote DailyWireless with more details:

In late August, the City of Portland will issue the ‘Unwire Portland’ RFP.The aim of the RFP is to stimulate the business sector into creating innovative business models surrounding the deployment of a City-Wide Wi-Fi network. This network will in turn provide Internet access for Portland businesses and residents, as well as providing cost-saving access solutions to City and State agencies.

In a proactive move to enhance Portland’s desirability as a place to both live and work, the City will invite tenders from all interested parties to build and manage a commercial wireless network based upon the popular global standard known as Wi-Fi.

“We have defined a downtown grid that will be our phase one Wi-Fi hot spot” said Nigel Ballard, a member of the Wireless Committee and their media representative. “Anyone within the grid will be able to use the wireless network to access non-profit public service web sites such as Tri-Met, Portland hospitals, Oregon Food Bank and many others for free; users desiring to surf the Internet at high-speed can subscribe to a paid service either on a day pass or by monthly subscription” said Ballard.

As an example, at present the City of Portland’s SmartMeter solar powered parking meters use costly mobile phone technology to update each meter’s memory. Retrofitting these meters with Wi-Fi radios alone would save the City thousands of dollars each year.

 

 

Many remote City buildings are currently being served by slow and costly Internet circuits. The Unwire Portland RFP lays out an additional requirement for a widespread wireless network using the new but already widely supported standard called WiMAX. City-owned antenna tower space will be made available to allow the network operator to provide high-speed secure Internet access across much of Portland using this exciting new radio standard.

“With laptops now outselling desktop PC’s, personal computing has become truly mobile, and adding affordable nomadic Internet access is a natural next step. Today it is hard to buy a new laptop that doesn’t already come equipped with Wi-Fi. Those users inside the grid will discover their laptops have become even more useful” said Ballard.

And it isn’t just about those lucky enough to own a laptop. An external Wi-Fi adapter for a desktop computer can be purchased for under $30 today, and that one-time expense would enable all low-income users with even the most basic of computers to access vital health and welfare services on the network at no charge.

 

 

The Portland School system are actively involved in the RFP, seeking to use the WiMAX network as a method of bringing affordable broadband to all schools in the district.

We are specifically focused on empowering each and every child in Portland with Internet access at home. There is a very real digital divide out there, and enabling no-cost access to schools and colleges through the network is a very real step towards bridging that divide.

The repaving of city streets causes annoying delays for motorists but could mean the difference between success and failure for a Fire truck responding to a 911 call. Portland Fire Service intends to use the Wi-Fi network to load time-critical GIS mapping data and scheduled road maintenance and closures directly to emergency vehicles.

“The Unwire Portland initiative will also provide fresh and much needed competition for the Portland internet access market. With competing services will come ever keener prices for consumers,” said Ballard.

The City of Portland RFP is seeking to recruit private companies to bid, build and manage the network, using no public funds.

A public forum will be held on July 28th to allow input from the public and to permit interested parties to hear an overview of Unwire Portland. The location of the public forum has yet to be confirmed.

Additional information can be obtained via the Portland Development Committee web site (www.pdc.us/unwire)

Nigel Ballard
Director of Wireless
Matrix Networks

 

 

Muni Wireless expresses some skepticism on Portland’s model

My skepticism over this model arises from the experiences that cities have had with the cable franchise model, that is, having ONE service provider deliver access to the city. What happens if the provider does not deliver good service?What happens if another service provider has a better offering? Are the city’s residents stuck with this winning bidder? I realize that another service provider can always come in and deploy wireless service – the spectrum is unlicensed after all. However, it’s difficult because that second service provider has to negotiate with building landlords.

There is a barrier to entry. I assume that the city will hold the winning bidder to a certain level of service, but getting out of the contract could mean long and expensive litigation. In the meantime, the city is stuck with oprovider.

By contrast, if the city builds a passive network whereby access is wholesaled to a variety of providers, there is choice. If one provider delivers lousy service, the residents can always move to a competitor.

 

But Nigel Ballard says MuniWireless has it wrong:

That is NOT our proposed model, Sam.We propose a single vendor builds and manages the network, then as it is an open access network, we intend that they let as many ISP’s as is viable to share the network.

There is the option for the builder to also be the ISP, but they’d have to most likely be a partnership of two experts in their respective fields to achieve this.

– Cheers, Nigel

 

DailyWireless editor Sam Churchill asked Matt Lampe, Chief Technology Officer for the City of Portland, to contrast the Portland proposal with other cities like Philadelphia. “Philadelphia has a different situation in their city, a bigger chunk of Philly is without broadband. Their non-profit corporation relies more on foundation grants to provide service,” explained Lampe. He said the Minneapolis WiFi Cloud was a closer model to the Portland proposal. It has drawn letters of intent from more than 20 companies.

In his presentation before the City Council, Lampe also mentioned the city’s fancy electronic parking meters. Apparently the CDPD-based Mobitex system costs the city something like $36/month. When a debit/credit card is not present, additional fees are charged. (The meters store and forward credit card accounts once or twice a day). A live WiFi connection (or perhaps a GPRS connection), might save money by lowering both the transaction fees and telecommunications costs. The city of Houston is considering a similar approach.

When asked if it was “safe”, Nigel Ballard, a member of the steering committee said, “Absolutely”. “It’s very easy to secure the connection with 100% security”. He said that free service would be available to hospitals, food banks and several other community service providers.

In addition, Ballard said a “walled garden” would be available free to everyone, “24/7″. That service would provide free connections to the library, city hall, educational institutions and visitor bureau information over the public network.

Intel’s Paul Butcher presented Intel’s “Digital Cities” vision to the council. Last month Butcher also addressed the NYC Commission for unwiring The City (doc):

Access to broadband in of itself, will not accomplish the real change pursued by this committee. More email and more web browsing is not what this world needs. If this commission focuses solely on providing access, free access or more affordable access, the promise and the potential of your work will not be realized. Real change; which benefits everyone, will only occur if there is an emphasis on tools that enable efficient and effective government, tools that enable citizens, foster business and economic health. Focus on tools for the fireman or police officer which ensures their safety. Enable parents to collaborate easily and from anywhere with teachers to ensure the success of their children. Monitor and control devices like parking and utility meters.

It would be too simplistic to recommend for example that New York should consider a two tiered network with WiMax providing backhaul to WiFi-Mesh devices mounted on light poles for street level access to Intel Centrino Laptops.

A thorough analysis which first identifies the purpose and tools which utilize the network, and then the technology capabilities required to meet those needs, will adequately answer the question of which technologies should be considered.

 

Steven Schroedl, President and founder of VeriLAN, a local wireless ISP, offered a public comment after the presentation. He mentioned that his company is already offering free 56kbps and installed the first “pre-WiMax” service in the United States (in December 2003).

The most wonderful News 4 Neighbors has more in-depth coverage on today’s meeting.

Perhaps not far from people’s minds, was the great work of the PersonalTelco Project. Their volunteers have helped installed nearly 700 free nodes around the Portland region.

Meanwhile, Clearwire, based in Kirkland, Wash., officially launched its “pre-WiMax” service today in the Eugene-Springfield area [See DailyWireless: Clearwire: West Coast Ho!]. The company expects to be in 20 markets by the end of the year. It is offering an introductory price of $20 a month for three months. After three months, residential plans will range from $30 to $38 a month with a $25 activation fee. A business package is $50 a month with a $50 activation fee.

DailyWireless has more on Portland’s Free Cloud, Cable vs Digital Cities: Championship Fight, City Clouds Save Money, Portland Cloud Updater, Portland Wireless Cloud Announced, NYC Public WiFi, Minneapolis WiFi Cloud, NW Wireless Conference, Vivato Adds Outdoor G, VeriLAN Tests Prototype Outdoor Vivato, Free Content on VeriLAN’s City Cloud, First Commercial 802.16a Switched On and Living Under A Cloud, by Nigel Ballard, Philly’s Fight, Verizon Blocking Philly Cloud?, the Philadelphia Cloud, Low Income Housing Connection, Digital Divide Solutions, SBC Fiber Plans, Taipei Unwired, Unwired Countries, and the DailyWireless City Cloud Report

Other U.S. cities that are building city-wide clouds include Athens, GA, Baltimore, Baton Rouge, Boston, Bellevue & Kirkland, Cerritos, Charleston, South Carolina, Durham/Raleigh, North Carolina, FreeBeeAtlanta, OneCleveland, Orlando, Pittsburgh, Datona Beach, Hermosa Beach, Indianapolis, Louisville, Long Beach, Kennewick, WA, Seattle, Spokane, Tacoma, Vancouver, Washington, Hermiston, OR, Medford, OR, Louisville Kentucky, Washington DC and others. WiFi Planet’s Hotspot Hits keeps tabs.

Related DailyWireless stories on “zones” include; WiMax On The Move, Sprint + Nextel = Cable?, Will 802.20 Challenge WiMax?, WiFi Vrs WiMax, Unlicensed Spectrum: The Sum of All Fears, FCC Opens 3.5 GHz Band, Decision in Nextel’s Court, National Wireless ISPs, Intel Inside Clearwire, ClearWire Launches Pre-WiMax, Wireless Cable Modem, Telephony’s Guide to WiMax, Realistic WiMax Range/Speed Projections?, FCC: Nextel Gets PCS Spectrum, 4G Goes Ballistic, IEEE Scores 802.16d, Sprint Plans National EV-DO Service, FCC Alters MMDS Band, Equal Access: Not, National 802.16 from McCaw, Spectrum Cowboys, TV Broadband, Mobile TV Spectrum and NextNet Deploys. WiMax Switcharoo and Cingular Buys AT&T for $41 Billion.