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WiMAX Redefined Again
|06 апреля 2009|
The WiMAX Forum has, for at least the third time, redefined what the putative 4G “technology” encompasses – and the new definition is that it’s anything that works on the Clearwire network.
The way the Forum puts it, its new certification program for WiMAX devices “will leverage Clearwire Corporation’s commercial WiMAX network experience to further ensure interoperability in the 2.5GHz spectrum band.” Calling such a move to certify products based on a service provider’s network “unprecedented,” the Forum said the plan will “accelerate certification of all vendors’ products and provide more certainty to operators around the globe that WiMAX products will efficiently interoperate in a commercial network environment.”
“With this first-ever industry initiative, the WiMAX Forum and Clearwire together are showing our commitment to the global operator and vendor communities and underscoring how vital WiMAX Forum Certification is to ensuring quality of services and consumer experience,” said Ali Tabassi, Clearwire’s Senior VP of Global Ecosystem and Standards. “Toward this end, we will expect all WiMAX products to become IOT (Interoperability testing) Certified before entering an operator’s network.”
“Operators around the world are lining up to require that WiMAX products become certified prior to introduction to their network to ensure interoperability,” added Ron Resnick, president and chairman of the WiMAX Forum. “The Clearwire partnership will ensure that 2.5 GHz certified products are tested against expertise learned from a live network test bed, and it is our intention to expand this process to other spectrum bands in the future. Today, we’re seeing a steady increase of deployment momentum, and as evidence of this, we’re seeing WiMAX system and device suppliers continue their commitment to the introduction of new, WiMAX Forum Certified products.”
What the two didn’t discuss, though, is why the already-existing set of specifications for what qualifies as Forum certified to use the WiMAX name aren’t adequate. Those issues include the somewhat embarrassing fact that so-called standard WiMAX devices that work on Clearwire’s Clear network in Portland don’t work on the “Xohm” WiMAX network that Sprint Nextel built in Baltimore, prior to the merger of Sprint’s Xohm unit and Clearwire.
Also somewhat obscure is a change that the Forum has made to the non-disclosure policy surrounding the Forum’s interoperability testing. It didn’t, however, disclose what the non-disclosure changes are.
As part of its announcement the Forum also bragged that 14 more devices were certified as meeting its definition of WiMAX during the first quarter of the year – nine base stations and five subscriber stations. No portable devices were mentioned, although there were several dongles and PCMCIA cards. Those 14 certifications appear to be the total out of what are now six certification labs claimed to be in operation around the world, with two more to open imminently according to the Forum.
In addition the Forum said that it is going to allow “qualified manufacturers” to provide their own test results as part of the certification process – a move that some might see as a clear loosening of standards in hopes of enticing more manufacturers to show up at the Forum’s door.
Still not discussed was any move to enforce the WiMAX trademark name, although the term “TM” was used in the Forum’s announcement in a few places. In fact, the name WiMAX is owned by the Forum and, as registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the Forum has the right to define WiMAX as whatever it wants it to be.
That definition started out as a concept essentially crafted by Intel and turned over to the Forum. After significant delays in turning the concept into a usable set of specifications, WiMAX was redefined as the already-standardized ETSI HiperMan implementation of the IEEE’s 802.16 specification. The Forum then again redefined WiMAX to also include Korea’s home-brewed WiBRO implementation of 802.16, even though WiBRO doesn’t include key multi-antenna features. But by calling it “Wave One” of WiMAX, the Forum has been able to brag of it as a major rollout. Now, it appears that the specs will be bent again to accommodate the “new Clearwire” and any vagaries in its network implementation of 802.16.