Google: Free City-Wide WiFi

Google is making a bid to build a city-wide, free wifi network in San Francisco, reports Om Malik.

The company today filed documents in response to San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom s request for information for the city wide network. Google s WiFi plans were first reported by Business 2.0 magazine as part of the GoogleNet article. The company says if its bid is approved, then it is willing to start the work on the network within weeks. Google officials say San Francisco residents (and visitors) will enjoy a free 300 kilobits per second, always on connection anywhere in the city. As part of its proposal, the company says it will be offering wholesale access to other service providers, who will offer higher throughput connections to their customers. Google says it plans to use its own authentication services. (That explains the Google WiFi VPN client to some extent). The company is going to use San Diego-based WFI, a cellular network builder company to build out the WiFi network.

The company proposes to build a network using third party hardware. Google officials say, its free WiFi plans are restricted only to San Francisco. The company does offer free wifi access in Mountain View and New York s Bryant Park.

OM Malik has more. Muniwireless has a list of companies that responded to the San Francisco RFI.

San Francisco has 24 proposals to deliver a Wi-Fi cloud to blanket every nook and cranny for all 750,000 residents of The City. Google’s proposal calls for installing as many as 30 wi-fi antennas in every square mile of San Francisco.

Newsom said he hoped to streamline the final bidding process and arrive at a contractor to build the citywide wireless service. That may take as little as five months to six months, he told reporters. But a series of public hearings, city approval processes, as well as potential lawsuits by opponents could drag the process out far longer, he cautioned. The mayor said he had no exact figures on how much it would cost to build a wireless umbrella to cover the entire city, but cited various informal estimates that have ranged from $8 million to $16 million for antennas and other gear.

“My intent is to have the taxpayers pay little or nothing,” Newsom said of the municipal wireless project.

In coming months, Newsom predicted, state or federal officials would introduce legislative bills seeking to prevent cities from running wireless services that compete with private companies.

As Matt McKenzie writes:

SBC is all about Congress sticking its noses where they don’t belong. If you’ll recall, one of the company’s former employees, Representative Pat Sessions (R-TX), introduced a bill that would outlaw municipal-sponsored networks. If that bill fails (which seems likely), you can expect these weasels to try again and again to strip local communities of the right to decide what types of public services they support. When you think about it, bare-bones, 300kbps wireless Internet access isn’t even a very daunting competitive barrier; any competent private service provider would have more than enough, above and beyond such a service, to offer its customers.

But just as some companies would rather use sham intellectual-property claims to extort money from customers and competitors, a company like SBC would rather spend its money buying congressmen and tainted “policy research” than deal with customers who have a choice.

Peter Ragone, a spokesman for the mayor, said a decision about a winner would be made “in weeks, not months”. He added that Google had no advantage because of its high profile and that the ultimate decision would be based on what was in their plans.

As part of its 100-page bid, Google said it could install a Wi-Fi network without cost to the city. Users with Wi-Fi-enabled computers could then log on to basic service, without paying, no matter where they are within the city limits.

St. Cloud, Florida offers a “free” cloud using some 300 Tropos 5210 mesh nodes. The $2.5 million system is being funded through an economic development fund within the city with operational costs estimated about $340,000 annually. After the first year, the city expects to save 6 FTE’s (Full Time Employees), with more in later years, allowing the city to offer “free” services. The city of St. Cloud hired MRI to develop a brand identity for the city and approved the expansion of the Cyber Spot to cover the entire city pdf. The 15 square mile city, a suburb of Orlando, has a population of 28,000.

Here’s a plan I wrote 4 years ago to unwire a low income area in Portland. The idea was that premium services such as video games and music would subsidize the service. Maybe it’s an idea whose time has come.

Related Dailywireless stories include; Google WiFi in NYC, Google WiFi, Google’s Location-Based Ads, GoogleNet?, Is Google Evil?, Google TV, GoogleNet Moonshot, The Free Triple Play, SF Tries Free, Ad-driven WiFi, NY Times Blinkx, CBS/Comcast Broadband, Global Mobile Television, PDA with FM Transmitter, Kentucky Parks Get WiFi, The FeedRoom, Ad Supported Wireless Net, Cellular Ads, Gizmondo’s Handheld Ads, Free Mesh Clouds, Iowa’s Highway Free Spots, Meetro Location Net, Pango WiFi Tracking, Localizing Content, Microsoft CoLocates, Location Services Hit the Street, Intel: Cloud Apps R Us, Rebuilding Media, Portable Photostories, MultiMedia Interoperability, Deep Wireless Festival, Mapping Oral History, Revolution in Mobile Services, Multicultural High Tech Innovations, Washington State Unwires Parks (& History), Skyhook Locates by WiFi, Ad Supported FreeFi, Directional Advertising Grows, Community LAN Software Roundup, Wireless Kiosks, Wireless Advertising on Buses, Dayton’s Ad-Supported Cloud, Neighbornode, 360-degree Messaging, McDonald’s + Sony Music, Demographic Mapping, Streetcar Ads, Adware, FreeFi, AMD’s FreeSpots, DotSpot Ad Server, Bridging the Divide and WiMax Handsets.

Access Points as Pencils

The sun keeps bus stops lit, thanks to solar powered signs in London.

Solar energy is stored in batteries during the day and illuminate both timetables and the stops. The system has been proven to work even in the UK’s gloomiest weather conditions and will help to make passengers feel safer while they wait for their bus.

How about hotspots?

A laptop computer with LCD display might require about 70 watts of power (at 120 volts). First multiply 70 watts x 1.15 (to add 15% for the consumption of an inverter) and get 80 watts. Dividing 80 watts by 120 volts = .67 amps of constant load. A mid-size Optima deep cycle battery like the $170 D34 is rated 55 AH (amp hours) @ 12 volts. Because the inverter will be converting the battery’s 12V current to 120V (which is greater by a factor of 10), we divide the battery’s 55AH rating by that same factor of 10, and the result is that the D34 battery has a rating of 5.5AH @ 120V. If we then divide that 5.5AH battery rating by the laptop’s consumption of .67 amps, we see that the Optima D34 deep cycle battery will run the laptop (or ruggedized tablet pc) for 8.2 hours through an inverter.

Newer laptops, drawing less than half the juice, should last 2-3 times as long…nearly 24 hours.

Signage could feature LCD panels with photos of your neighbors. gFeedMap displays the location of blogs on a Google map.

Clickable oral history maps on the splash page along with News 4 Neighbors and open source tools like Drupal can create neighborhood media. Write now.
If a localized social/business environment works for Google, it could work for neighborhoods. Local artists and musicians, local businesses and local people can create and share resources.

Imagine access points inside giant pencils.

Mount them on streetlights. On coffeeshops. Everywhere. “WriteSpot” is just a container. The access point is inside. It’s simple and cheap. The message is iconic and positive…your ideas have value. Communicate.

Unwired Portland & PTP Meetup

Matt Lampe, CTO for the city, and Rashid Ahmed from the Portland Development Council attended the September Monthly Meeting of Portland’s Personal Telco project, writes Michael Weinberg for Portland’s News for Neighbors.

Lampe gave a formal presentation and fielded questions with assistance from Ahmed. Following the formal Q&A, some attendees discussed the project informally with both Ahmed and Lampe.

Lampe explained that the Unwire Portland project originated as an internal effort to reduce city costs. Currently, each of Portland’s “smart” parking meters use a cellular technology to send credit card information in batches for approval. This scenario is undesirable for a number of reasons, Lampe explained, most notably the cost of $40/month per meter. Lampe also discussed the need to provide data connections to city facilities that are outside of DSL range. There is also a desire to provide data connections to various city employees in the field.

According to Lampe, the city could have built its own wireless network, using a combination of technologies, to serve these needs; however, rather than building a network that was focused only on city needs, they decided to look at a larger project that could provide benefits to a larger demographic.

The footprint for Phase I, as outlined in the RFP, covers an area of about 1600 square blocks that are currently well served by broadband providers. The Unwire Portland committee expects that this area will be covered by mid-2006, 6 months after the project start date.

The RFP is understandably strict about both the services that will be provided to the City of Portland and the price those services will be offered at ($12/month per parking meter, for example), but it sets very few requirements for the service offerings and pricing for other customers. Lampe and Rashid both expressed that they hoped and expected that proposals would go far beyond what is explicitly required.

When asked why they did not require more in the RFP, given these expectations, Lampe explained that because the city was only offering itself as a tenant, they weren’t actually in a position to place other requirements on bidders.

More is available at Portland’s News for Neighbors.

Portland State’s Daily Vanguard has additional coverage:

According to Don Park, president of PTP and a computer science graduate student at Portland State, charging for use of wireless internet would compromise something built in the spirit of the gift economy. It s a basic service that arguably everybody needs, he said, acknowledging the idea that the network should be a customer-owned utility. Under Unwire Portland s plan the system would provide alternative means of accessing the internet for low-income and disadvantaged citizens.

Don Park is also co-founder of DailyWireless. You can hear the entire talk, complete with the Q and A, on the PTP podcast. Tom Higgins records the meetings monthly on MP3s. You can download the audio directly here.

Merging UWB/802.11n?

The future wireless standard for home digital equipment is likely to involve either the WiFi-based IEEE 802.11n or the IEEE Ultra-WideBand standard (UWB), explains Electronics Asia.

The 802.11n standard, built on previous 802.11 (WiFi) standards, adds MIMO (multiple-input multiple-output) antennas for increased data throughput and range. Two standards camps are at odds; TgnSync and Wwise with a third camp, MITMOT trying to merge the two proposals together by November for faster, longer range WiFi networks.

The IEEE 802.15.3a standard, meanwhile, was designed to replace Bluetooth for fast, close range (10-30 feet) connections. Inexpensive, low power UWB chips could replace USB and Firewire cables in a few years. Ultra WideBand also has its standards battles with Multiband OFDM (MB-OFDM), which “hops” an OFDM signal from one band to another, versus Direct Sequence UWB (DS-UWB), which skips the 5 Ghz band entirely.

Now, according to Electronics Asia, there is talk of merging MIMO WiFi and UWB into a single approach for both short range connectivity and longer range WiFi networks.

The boundary between 11n and UWB has begun to blur rapidly. As a result of technological refinements to 11n during the competition to become the industry standard, new concepts have been incorporated to provide significant improvements in speed and reduced power consumption. At last 11n technology is approaching the realm of portable equipment application, which until now has been thought to be the domain of UWB.

Whether this is wishful thinking on the part of one of the promoters is not entirely clear. But it’s a great article, with lots of illustrated explainations on how these proposals differ.

Related DailyWireless stories include; UWB Overview, MultiBand UWB Chip Gets FCC Approval, Wireless USB 1.0, UWB Range Doubles, UWB Organizations Merging?, Alereon Gets UWB Recognition, UWB RF-ID, Wireless USB Comes Home, Microsoft Joins UWB Battle and UWB in the Chips. Other 802.11n articles include; MIMO Expanded, Finding MIMO, D-Link’s MIMO, Netgear’s MIMO, Belkin’s MIMO and the Linksys MIMO, MIMO Reviews, TGn Leading for 802.11n, Nortel Demos MIMO Cellular, Ext Antennas for Belkin’s MIMO, Intel Does MIMO and Airgo’s MIMO chips.

Digital City Awards

The W2i Wireless Communities Best Practices Awards pay tribute to local governments implementing broadband-wireless solutions for cities, counties and regions.

Winners of the Best Practices Awards will be honored at the upcoming W2i Digital Cities Convention (West) during a dinner ceremony on the evening of October 11, 2005, at the San Mateo Marriott (San Francisco Airport).

Awards in six categories will reward the effective use of broadband-wireless solutions for:

  • Community Momentum Building
  • Digital Inclusion
  • Technology Innovation
  • E-Government Applications
  • Local Government Workforce Productivity Improvement
  • Local Municipal Initiative

Intel also has a Digital Cities program (above & below). It promotes the concept of wireless applications with wireless infrastructure to increase productivity and lower costs.

The W2i Digital Cities Convention Awards finalists are:

The UK also has an e-Government National Awards program supported by the Cabinet Office.

Each year, the Intelligent Community Forum, a non-profit organization supported in large part by broadband providers, selects communities from around the world that use communications technology effectively. An Intelligent Community takes more than “being wired.” It takes a combination of significant deployment of broadband, effective education, training and workforce development, government and private-sector programs.

A list of Candidates for 2005 Intelligent Communities include:

  1. Taipei, Tawain
  2. Spokane, Washington, USA
  3. Toronto, Canada
  4. Dubai, United Arab Emirates
  5. Mitaka, Japan
  6. Pirai, Brazil
  7. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
  8. Tianjin, China
  9. Singapore (1999 Intelligent Community of the Year)
  10. Sunderland, U.K.
  11. Long Island (Nassau & Suffolk Counties), NY, USA
  12. Province of Ontario, Canada
  13. Greater Cleveland and NE Ohio, USA
  14. Calgary, Alberta, Canada (2002 Co-Recipient of the Intelligent Community of the Year)
  15. Dublin, Ireland

Hotspots in coffee shops are growing up, morphing into “zones” or “city clouds”.
Monthly fees are going the other way… moving towards free.

In the City of Cupertino, MetroFi offers a $12.95- $19.95 no frills package, without email addresses or other extras. MetroFi uses Skypilot for 802.11a backhaul with MetroFi s own integrated 802.11b mesh hardware. In addition, they have installed over 100 ValuePoint access points with management software from Granite Systems (acquired by Telcordia) to manage the network. Tempe, Arizona uses 400 Strix access points in a mesh. Sputnik and Linksys could manage a small town for pennies.

Business 2.0 looked at Broadband Boomtowns in the Northeast, Southeast, Mid West and West.

Singapore’s Infocomm Development Authority, India’s Bangalore International Tech Park, Korea’s Incheon and Hong Kong’s Cyberport (above) are global leaders.

Korea’s Digital Media City, New Songdo, located on a man-made island of nearly 1,500 acres off the Incheon coast, about 40 miles from Seoul, is rising from the ground up as a U-city.

Nortel is building a huge, city-wide mesh network in Taipei using Nortel’s Wireless Mesh Network Solution. Meanwhile, Vivato and TW-Airnet announced they are installing 42 Vivato Base Stations throughout major cities in Taiwan for extended “hot zones”. Clearwire, a 500-employee Kirkland company, offers WiMax-like service in 16 U.S. cities.

St. Cloud, Florida offers a “free” cloud using some 300 Tropos 5210 mesh nodes and a Motorola Canopy Pre WiMax backhaul. The $2.5 million system is being funded through an economic development fund within the city. Ongoing operational costs beginning in year 2 run about $340,000 annually. How does the city pay for “free” WiFi? After the first year, the city expects to save 6 FTE’s (Full Time Employees), with more in later years.

Of course cable companies, telephone companies and cellular operators want a piece of this action:

  • Cable operators are testing wireless “cable zones”.

    Time Warner Cable and NetNearU are creating more “Cable Zones” (free to cable broadband subscribers). Their first one was in San Antonio, Texas, using Airespace gear (now owned by Cisco). Now NetNearU is supplying Time Warner with its TRACKOS software, allowing the speedy deployment of Wi-Fi network connections in several new service areas. It provides roaming services so subscribers can access Speed Zone hotspots anywhere within Time Warner’s territory.

    If cable operators wanted to get serious about mobility, they could do 802.16e in the 2.5Ghz band (in partnership with Nextel/Sprint or Clearwire). According to Intel, you’d need WiMax antennas every 1-3 miles or so. That would deliver indoor coverage for wireless VoIP phones and mobile broadband for laptops. Cable operators already have the fiber backhaul.

    If they wanted to screw up the “city cloud” competition, they could install blanket unlicensed 5.8 GHz every 1/2 mile or so and mess it up for everybody, especially phone companies, municipalities and independent ISPs. Would “active denial” be a legitimate business plan in Kevin Martin’s FCC? Talk to the lawyers.

  • Telephone companies are jumping in:

  • Cellular operators are suiting up for a fight.Verizon Wireless is launching BroadbandAccess nationwide. Their EV-DO service, as well as V CAST, their broadband content service that delivers mobile television, are being offered in more than 15 cities across the United States and expanding fast. V-Cast rides on Verizon’s CDMA-based EVDO data service. Cingular plans an upgrade to faster “3G” HSDPA next year.

    Sprint-Nextel plans EV-DO (with a faster software upgrade in 2006) and Mobile WiMax (in 2007). Sprint-Nextel have 90MHz of 2.5GHz spectrum, covering 80 markets in the U.S. They’ll compete with Clearwire’s Mobile WiMax in many municipalities.

    Qualcomm’s MediaFLO network and Crown Castle have eschewed CDMA. They prefer COFDM broadband media services. Crown Castle will broadcast to millions at 1.7 GHz while Qualcomm is investing $800 million to launch their national cellular TV service in 2006 over its own 700 Mhz spectrum, broadcasting up to 20 channels for wireless carriers to sell their customers.

    By 2008, Aloha Partners may offer 700 Mhz 2-way broadband wireless, competing with Mobile WiMax from Sprint and Clearwire using 2.5 GHz, as well as high speed cellular from Verizon, Sprint and Cingular.

  • Cities are pushing back.San Antonio Unwired, Pronto Networks (pdf) and BelAir Networks, have teamed to offer Wi-Fi hotspot service in the Alamo and downtown areas. It combines the BelAir100 and BelAir200 hardware with Pronto management software. SA Unwired plans to charge users $3 per hour, or $10 a day for wireless Internet access. As the network grows, SA Unwired may change its pricing.

    Pronto s OSS is deployed in 16 cities, with more evaluations underway. Pronto is deployed in Corpus Christi, TX, an Intel Digital Cities showcase city, and is a key component of Intel’s Digital Cities “ecosystem”. Another WiFi provider in San Antonio is Wi-Fi San Antonio, which provides wireless service thoughout the city.

    Cities like Madison, Tempe and Minneapolis have issued RFPs seeking wireless ISPs to provide citywide Wi-Fi. They don’t want to be service providers, they want to contract it out, reports MuniWireless. Earthlink, for example, was one of the twelve bidders on the Philadelphia RFP, and is rumored to have won it. At least that’s what half a dozen insiders at Unwired Portland’s meeting last Monday whispered to DailyWireless reporter, Sam Churchill [me].

By not relying on taxpayer money, cities might avoid a direct conflict with telecoms and cable companies.

Some cities are forming non-profit corporations to manage the system. These non-profit corporations, sometimes established as 501(c)3 organizations (as in Philadelphia’s case), provide low income access as well as manage “equal access” provisioning. A portion of the city’s access revenue goes to “digital divide” programs in Philadelpia. Public service users get cheap rates because the infrastructure is shared. Portland will contract out everything and provide an “anchor tenant” for services. The owner/operater of Portland’s system may also supply end user services, but must provide wholesale “equal access” to competitors.

Cable providers, and now DSL-based phone companies, do not provide “equal access” for competitors. Phone companies who run fiber to the curb have similar provisions. It’s their way or no way.

Competing cellular providers claim their high-speed EV-DO or HSPDA data services can deliver broadband wireless via the private sector — at no risk to taxpayers.

Intel’s Paul Butcher 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.

Municipal networks are becoming a holy war with independent Wireless ISPs up against cellular companies. Now cable operators and telcos are climbing into the ring…with born-again WiMax religion.

It’s a free-for-all!

Can these new broadband wireless technologies — especially Mobile WiMax — deliver significant cost savings and competitive service? Is the shared infrastructure model a real benefit to end users? Nobody knows.


Related DailyWireless articles include; Cable vs Digital Cities: Championship Fight, City Clouds Save Money, Proxim’s 700 Mile Cloud, Fred Ziari’s 700 Mile Cloud, NYC Public WiFi, Minneapolis WiFi Cloud, NW Wireless Conference, VeriLAN Tests Prototype Outdoor Vivato, Living Under A Cloud, by Nigel Ballard, First Commercial 802.16a Switched On, Duopoly Laws, Heartland Says The World Is Round, DailyWireless Testifies for Muni Broadband, Philly’s Fight, Verizon Blocking Philly Cloud?, the Philadelphia Cloud, Low Income Housing Connection, Digital Divide Solutions, SBC Fiber Plans, Taipei Unwired, Mobile WiMax Chips, Cable Modem 3.0, Wireless Cable, Wireless Cable Modem, WiFi Cable Modem/Phone, Regional Roaming Roundup, Time/Warner Cable Zones, Sprint/Nextel to Merge, Sprint + Nextel = Cable?, WiFi Cable Phones, SBC Details Fiber Plans, WiFi Cable Modem does VoIP, PacketCable, and Satellite WiFi.

Intel on Mobile WiMax

EE Times Asia has an interesting interview about Mobile WiMax with Lonnie McAlister, product line manager for the Wireless Networking Group at Intel Communications Group, Asia-Pacific.

EE Times-Asia: What is Intel doing for WiMAX in terms of industry perspective?
Lonnie McAlister: From an industry perspective, Intel is heavily involved in worldwide forums those of IEEE and WiMAX. In the IEEE forum, Intel has a large engineering contingent and we are focused on developing the 802.16 technology for portable and mobile marketplaces. There are two working groups one focused on security and the other on manageability. Intel works with many players in this forum. We want to develop a technology that can be developed by the world on a level playing field. We’re trying to keep the IPR cost down so that many players can compete, since it is a worldwide standard.

The WiMAX forum tests these solutions for compliance to the specs defined by IEEE and also to ensure that they are interoperable and vendor agnostic.

Intel is also involved in a lot of marketing campaigns for the awareness of the need for wireless broadband. We see also this as a viable product for enabling our next-generation of PCs. We are focused on these forums because we want to put more features in our PCs and enable an entirely new market. For people that do not have access to broadband, WiMAX is the way this gets enabled. When we put the infrastructure in place, we enable the client solutions notebooks, PDAs, handsets.

Broadband in general is a technology that will enable new kinds of applications from healthcare, to make it more efficient and more accurate; to people in developing countries that do not have any wired infrastructure yet require broadband from an educational perspective; to small businesses, again in developing countries that don’t have the infrastructure. WiMAX will make it cheap and affordable to allow people to participate in a global market.

How is Intel involved in WiMAX from a product standpoint?
We need to make WiMAX more successful. Fixed-access solutions are the first step in the WiMAX evolution. WiMAX is will be tested on fixed-access first, evolving the processes and testing for interoperability. Fixed-access technology is much simpler than mobile technology, so this is a great stepping stone to the latter.

Intel has already announced our system-on-a-chip (SoC), the Intel broadband wireless interface, or the 5116 interface we call Rosedale. This product was announced in April. Recently, I received notification from one of our equipment partners that they are now producing this chip. That is what we are playing in the fixed-access market.

Next year, we will be shipping 802.16e solutions that are designed to support portable- and mobile-type applications. These 2G devices will enable 2G CPE (customer-premises equipment) fixed-access equipment and PDA and notebook markets.

What are the challenges that WiMAX development currently faces in terms of technology?
This technology is so complicated that the path that we are following is a Wi-Fi path. The challenges are interoperability, costs and power. The WiMAX forum is actually designed to deal with the interoperability issue. Those who want to be WiMAX-certified must pass a test to prove not only compliance to the specs, but also interoperability of the solutions between vendors.

Another aspect is cost. We made a prediction, following the Wi-Fi curve, on costs for client devices and CPEs and we are already seeing that come true. We predicted $500 CPEs by this time, but they’ve already dropped lower than that. The promise there is already coming true and it is because competition is really kicking in trying to get these carriers to be deployed first. The price is also dropping very fast, which is great news because it means that WiMAX is really following the Wi-Fi path.

The other aspect is power. As long as it is fixed access and you are plugged in the wall, you don’t have to really worry about power. You have to worry about battery life. When you get into smaller devices with limited battery life, such as notebooks and PDAs, power consideration becomes key. We are looking at that in our 2G portable solution based in 802.16e.

Where is the epicenter of growth for global WiMAX adoption?
It is happening all over the world, but especially in Asia and its developing areas. Developed areas such as Korea, Japan and Taiwan are actually more focused on the portable and mobile environment. But developing areas like India, Malaysia and Thailand are just desperate for access because they don’t have infrastructure in place. They have hundreds of thousands of customers demanding the access now, so they are heavily focused on deploying 802.16e to address that market.

There are reports from IDC that suggest that the mobile version of WiMAX is unlikely to live up to expectations and it is somewhat overhyped. What can you say about this?
To be blunt, I think they are wrong. The mobile WiMAX, from a technology perspective, is proven technology. OFDM, for instance, has been around for quite a while and that’s what is based on. What they have done is to address capacity, range and signal fading.

I feel very confident that we are taking proven existing OFDM technology. We added new features that have been proven very successful MIMO technology, for instance. The 802.16e will be able to take advantage of MIMO technology, which is also what Wi-Fi is doing to increase not only range, but also throughput. These are technologies that have actually been proven adopted by WiMAX to take advantage of mobile markets.

From a hype perspective, people can always make wild claims. Until the actual technology is there, you really don’t know how great it is.

At the end of 2006, we will start rolling out the infrastructure for 802.16e for portable and mobile networks not 2008, which is what a lot of people have been saying. Once the infrastructures are in place, the client devices can roll out. And 2008 is when you will actually get it in handsets, but you’ll see it widely used in notebooks in 2007, well in advance of what they’ve predicted. That technology alone will prove the viability of WiMAX.

Reden Mateo

More at EE Times Asia.

Nortel is also working on 802.16e (WiMAX/WiBro) solutions though their LG-Nortel joint venture (above).

Nortel’s WiBro solutions are scheduled for commercial availability following the 2005 field trial deployment in Asia with the LG-Nortel joint venture, with additional mobile WiMAX solutions set to be commercially available following the 2006 trials in North America. They are using Airspan clients and Intel chips.

Samsung Electronics has signed a contract with Sprint Nextel to supply communications equipment and handsets for a WiBro test run in the USA using Runcom’s 802.16e chips.

The IEEE expects to ratify the 802.16e standard by the end of 2005, with chips coming to market in 2006, certification beginning late 2006 and commercial production in 2007.