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The Phony War

16 ноября 2006
The period between October 1939 and May 1940, that is, between the German invasion of Poland and the German invasion of the Netherlands, Belgium and France, was called the Phony War: there was a lot of military posturing but little actual fighting between the Allies and the Axis powers. What we are seeing on mobile WiMAX front may as well be described as a phony war: There is much posturing and talking, generals huddle over maps, troops are moving in this direction or that-but the real war is yet to begin.

The 802.16e standard is almost here, with many of the WiMAX Forum's profiles very close to completion. Certification testing will start at the end of the year, two plugfests have already been held, and vendors proudly exhibit their pre-certified gear.

For individuals and companies which want to buy 802.16e-based equipment, this shadowy phase creates a problem. Should they buy a first-generation, non-certified 802.16e system, a system which will support only the limited number of first-wave offerings? Should they instead choose the most developed, even if it's the least future upgrade-proof path and buy an enhanced 802.16d system? Should they wait another year or so for second-wave of 802.16e products which will be offering significant enhancements such as MIMO and, in addition, will likely be cheaper because they will be part of broader vendor roll-outs?

Space limitations prevent us from discussing in detail the pluses and minuses of each of the three options. As we agree with the detailed analysis offered by Wireless Watch, you may want to see their argument. Here we will say only this: First, without MIMO and beamforming, it is not possible for operators to achieve important objectives such as effective indoor penetration (yes, you may flood the zone for base stations, but this is not going to happen). Airspan's collaborative effort with Japanese company Yozan proved a disappointment, and was scaled back considerably.

Second, this leaves some running room for the d-plus option. We note, for example, that at the recent plugfest there were tests of the ETG mode which extends 802.16d into laptops and other applications and which, as importantly, supports improved interoperability between 802.16d and 802.16e CPEs. WaveSat, a smart and innovative company, is betting on this approach, at the least for the short run, arguing that 802.16d is proven and will support most operators' business models for some time to come.

WiMAX Beat, a bi-weekly special supplement to FierceWiFi

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