A Supplement to
The Complete Guide To:
Broadband GETS PERSONAL
Mobile WiMAX is upon us, bringing a whole new kind of broadband service experience with it.
Carriers gain real-world WiMAX knowledge VoIP and quality go hand-in-hand The emergence of OFDMA
By Dan O’Shea
cations systems division at Samsung Electronics. Each of them brought a different perspective, Smith, that of a telco that is testing the water with commercial pre-WiMAX services and gathering information, but holding off on bigger commitments while waiting to see what Mobile WiMAX can offer; Hoadley, that of an equipment vendor that has been foraging around in the forest of developing standards looking for the right commercial opportunities; and Song, that of an equipment and device vendor that is on the very forefront of what Mobile WiMAX may offer, getting ready to help Korea Telecom launch broadly available commercial WiBro service this spring. We talked on the panel about the future of WiMAX, in admittedly most vague visionary terms—I kidded Song about the “WiBro robot” he showed a photo of when explaining what kinds of end-user terminals could eventually carry WiBro. He said it was roughly the size of an iDog and would follow you anywhere. (Note to Song: I was serious about wanting one for Christmas this year.) It was the kind of general banter that you see at any panel, that is, until we got the audience involved in the question and answer session. People from the gallery began firing all sorts of intelligent and extremely specific questions at the panelists: What is the business model for Mobile WiMAX where there is already 3G? How many base stations do you need to build in an average city, what can you charge for service and where is your break-even point? Where do customer premises equipment price points need to be for Mobile WiMAX to become a viable broadband alternative—how do we get there and when? How can you spend money to build a WiMAX network and still compete with municipal networks that will offer service for free? Who among the telecom outsiders will bid on spectrum at auction—Microsoft, Apple or Google? The panelists had answers for some of those questions, and others were just too hard to answer adequately in our format of discussion, but the number and specificity of the questions both surprised and enlightened me. It was an indicator that the whole level of debate about WiMAX has been elevated across the telecom industry. People don’t necessarily want to talk about future possibilities—about what names they will give to their WiMAX robots—but what they can do now, how they can fit WiMAX into their current understanding of their own business models. The audience raised important questions that the WiMAX Forum should strive to answer so that as many companies as possible can get involved in the market as soon as possible. Around the world, people are craving a WiMAX education, and they want it now—because the future is now. ◗
Editor-in-Chief Dan O’Shea
ust two weeks ago at the TelecomNext trade show in Las Vegas, I had the privilege of moderating a panel on “The Future of WiMAX” that included Bill Smith, chief technology officer of BellSouth; John Hoadley, vice president of advanced technology and wireless networks at Nortel Networks; and Hung Song, vice president of the global marketing group in the telecommuni-
The Complete Guide to WiMAX April 2006
THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO
2 MOBILE WIMAX: THE EVOLUTION BEGINS
Mobile WiMAX promises to bring with it a whole new kind of broadband service experience—personal broadband.
WiMAX Starts with Aperto.
LEARNING FROM EXPERIENCE
Carriers and vendors gain insight into how consumers will use WIMAX through trials and commercial rollouts.
WIMAX PUTS SERVICE QUALITY ON DISPLAY
Many bank on VoIP to be the WiMAX killer app, but service quality will be key to the success of this—or any other WiMAX-enabled—offering.
The WiMAX era has arrived with new PacketMAX™ 5000 from Aperto Networks. The PacketMAX 5000 is the world's first carrier-class broadband wireless base station to be WiMAX Forum Certified and provides unsurpassed subscriber density, QoS, and reliability. No other product lets carriers and service providers so quickly offer broadband services across diverse customer bases—and so profitably. div For more information on PacketMAX solutions, call +1.408.719.9977 or visit www.apertonet.com.
OFDMA PREPARES TO MOVE ON
Orthogonal frequency division multiplexing was way ahead of WiMAX and 3G in terms of offerings on the market. The current standstill has been caused by vendors awaiting ratification of standards.
Q&A: DONNA CARLSON
Principal analyst at Sky Light Research talks about what WiMAX will accomplish in 2006.
Wireless to the MAX
PacketMAX™ 5000 is the industry's highest density, highest capacity, and highest performing base station. Aperto Networks 598 Gibraltar Drive Milpitas, CA 95035
© 2006 Aperto Networks. All rights reserved.
THE EVOLUTION BEGINS
The next step for broadband wireless technology will help usher in a new era of applications and devices, as well as new thinking about how we view broadband. By Dan O’Shea
The telecom industry is at one of those richly interesting points in its history where many different types of migration seem to be happening at the same time. In the service provider back office, there is the migration to the era of customer self-maintenance, in which automated network management and remote self-service capabilities are changing how broadband service is activated and administered. In the network core, carriers are migrating to IP multimedia subsystem architectures that are simplifying how different types of communications traffic are treated, creating a more structurally open and operationally efficient network environment. And at the access level, carriers are continuing to migrate to new forms of broadband access, Fixed WiMAX being among the latest. Yet, in the broadband access realm, there is more soon on the way, as the WiMAX Forum and its member companies look to make Mobile WiMAX, based on the IEEE 802.16e standard, a commercial endeavor by sometime early next year. And many people in the WiMAX community are betting that Mobile WiMAX will do what Fixed WiMAX and other fixed forms of broadband access have not been able to do—inspire a whole new way of thinking about and defining broadband service a the broadband user experience. “If you are talking about a technology that can turn wireless into a broadband phenomenon, it is clearly Mobile WiMAX that you are talking about,” said Sai Subramanian, vice president of product management for Navini Networks. For the last year or more, long before the IEEE ratified the 802.16e standard on which Mobile WiMAX is based in December 2005, Subramanian and many other people in the WiMAX Forum and in the industry were calling Mobile WiMAx by another name: personal broadband. That name isn’t so much an alter ego, as it is a much better descriptor of what the technology actually provides to its users, as well as an indicator of exactly how it may change our current concept of broadband technology and access. “Mobile WiMAX will broaden the market for broadband everywhere in the world and make it the kind of market that it should be, one that is counted in number of people connected rather than in the number of households connected,” Subramanian said. Carlton O’Neal, vice president of marketing for Alvarion, added, “Beginning this year, there will be a move to the idea of personal broadband, and it can change broadband in the same way that [personal communications services] changed the cell phone market. What will happen with Mobile WiMAX is that you will have a personal broadband service that is wrapped in a device. The concept of broadband will go up a notch and become disconnected from location. People will be asking each other, ‘Who is your personal broadband provider?’” If it seems a stretch for the average communications consumer to start thinking in those terms about broadband, then maybe you just aren’t young enough to know better about how the nature of communications, and by extension broadband, is already changing. Mobile substitution of landline service, the so-called act of “cutting the cord,” has been on the rise for the last few years, and mobile substitution in the U.S. market alone is expected to be around 10%. And leading the charge for mobile substitution, for the most part, is a young demographic market segment—18 to 34-year-olds (though the trend is most intense among 18 to 25-year-olds). “It’s a younger demographic, the iPod generation,” Subramanian said. “A lot of them have never had a landline connection to their name, and you probably never will see that happen. What they are used to is mobile services, and the idea is going to a retail store and buying a phone with the
The Complete Guide to WiMAX April 2006
service already connected to it, not buying a phone and then waiting for someone to come out to your house to connect it or to wire your house.” Having said that, as Mobile WiMAX and the concept of personal broadband become more broadly commercially applicable over the next year or so, the kinds of applications that consumers may use personal broadband for may not be so far removed from exactly the kind of applications they use a broadband landline connection for today—Internet access, voice over IP, downloading music, sending the occasional photo. However, having the mobility while performing these tasks will be a huge change for most people. Navini’s Subramanian said, “The initial applications for personal broadband will be some of the same things that you do with a wired broadband connection, and that’s really no big shakes, right? It will be a matter of user preference, but the idea is also that the user can perform that task in their preferred way, at their preferred time and place.” O’Neal added, “There will be a killer app for WiMAX, and that killer app will be whatever people are doing at that time that they are connected.”
eanwhile, at the same time that Mobile WiMAX is emerging and personal broadband is taking shape, the nature of existing mobile service also is changing, as mobile data traffic is increasing on the 3G networks of the traditional mobile service providers, and new contentbased services—not just games or, most recently, music services, but also mobile TV and other kinds of video programming. 3G networks and devices are starting to catch on to the idea that consumers want video content, and even traditional TV programming, to be capable of being removed from their living rooms and their cable TV or landline broadband connections. It is a trend that Hollywood and the rest of the community that develops and produces much of the TV and other video content we enjoy may be well ahead in understanding. The popularity of a device like the video iPod is just one example of that trend. “The video iPod is kind of a revolution in itself,” Alvarion’s O’Neal said. “That’s because it is helping to shift the paradigm in the way that people are consuming enter-
tainment. Something like that is a Mobile WiMAX application. There’s a lot of storeand-forward video possibilities. There’s the whole emergence now of viral videos, and that can be another killer app in the way that people will want to share things.” And the future will not revolve only around whatever Apple Computer thinks of next. The migration to richer hand-held
“[The killer app for WiMAX] will be whatever people are doing at the time they’re connected.”
—Carlton O’Neal, Alvarion
devices capable of voice, data, video and other applications has been in progress for a while now. As Subramanian pointed out, laptop personal computer sales have surged year after year to the point where sales of laptops have now moved ahead of sales of desktop PCs. Most laptop PCs now can be purchased not only with the typical Ethernet high-speed landline connection port, but also with integrated Wi-Fi connections and service activation software. Some laptops even have integrated or cardbased 3G services packaged with them. Meanwhile, 3G phones, data devices and storage devices like iPods are all converging in various ways. “Broadband systems kind of augur each other,” O’Neal said. “You’ve got all these access methods and devices, and as they are all converging on the market, there will be an amazing proliferation of applications that come. It will be like what originally happened in the PC market—the applications will come from the explosion of devices that are positioned to take advantage of them.” New types of devices are still emerging as Mobile WiMAX marches toward the personal broadband future. The Ultra-Mobile Personal Computer (UMPC) has been in development at Microsoft since at least 2002, and the software giant unveiled its first UMPC last month at the CeBit trade show in Hanover, Germany. The device, touted by Microsoft as an “anywhere, everywhere” communications and entertainment device, includes software such as Sling Media’s store-and-forward content solution and Intel chips with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity. Samsung is said to be working on a UMPC version that will have WiBro connectivity, based on the standard in South Korea that is based on 802.16e and will
April 2006 The Complete Guide to WiMAX
SKY LIGHT RESEARCH’S WiMAX PRODUCT GRID
Vendor Multiservice Proprietary WiMAX-2004 WiMAX-802.16e Current IP Mobile– CDMA Current IP Mobile– Flash OFDM WiBRO
Adaptix AirSpan Alcatel Alvarion Aperto Networks Arraycom Axcera Axxcelera Cambridge Broadband Ericsson Flarion/ Qualcomm Harris IPWireless Motorola Navini NextNet Nortel PointRed Technologies Proxim Wireless Redline Samsung Siemens Soma SR Telecom Trango Broadband UTStarcom Vyyo WaveRider/ WaveWireless Wavion WiLAN ZTE
AS MAX OEM Alvarion BreezeMAX PacketMAX
BreezeAccess Breeze2000 PacketWave iBurst
Motion 2100 AS.MAX road map Evolium WiMAX base station BreezeMAX road map PacketMAX
Axity (UMTS) AB Access VectaSTAR ExcelAir 70 ExcelMAX (3.5) AB Max (5.8) VectaMAX OEM Airspan Road map RadioRouter ClearBurst MB NodeB Base station MOTOwi4 Canopy products MOTOwi4 UltraLite products RipWave MX Road map LG/Nortel joint venture
RipWave BS and modems LG/Nortel joint venture
Expedience Road map with Airspan MicroRed Tsunami AN100 TeraMAX RedMAX
RAS bs, CPE chips in existing terminals 450 MHz W-CDMA macro base station
WayMAX @vantage SoftAir System AirStar Angel (named changed Symmetry ONE to Symmetry ONE) Access 5830 and FOX
WayMAX Family road map Road map Symmetry MX
V251 Wireless Modem, V3000 wireless hub LMS Family Space time processing technology Libra MX Ultima 3, AWE, Libra families ZXBWA-3E
450 MHz CDMA
The Complete Guide to WiMAX April 2006
Source: Sky Light Research Information up to date as of March 17
MovingMedia 6000 TD-CDMA
be a profile within Mobile WiMAX. Future UMPCs likely will include some form of Mobile WiMAX connectivity. “Mobile WiMAX eventually will be integrated into laptops and all other kinds of devices,” Navini’s Subramanian said. “It starts with a PC card being added to some laptop, and it evolves very fast from there.” Arno Kolk, vice president of marketing for manufacturing firm Elcoteq, said, “We expect to see wide variety of user devices from fixed outdoor CPEs to handsets. There are many different applications, each best served with a different device. Remote farms or villages are best connected using fixed CPEs with large high-gain antennas while mobile users in downtown business districts would like to use familiar PDAs, laptops or smartphones.” Chris Knudsen, chief technology officer of Intel Corp’s service provider group, added, “You will see a very quick migration away from the typical handset as a cellular voice device. All different kinds of access methods are driving that. With Mobile WiMAX, you will have services with greater spectral efficiency, and devices will come together.
“You will see a very quick migration away from the typical handset as a cellular voice device. All different kinds of access methods are driving that.”
—Chris Knudsen, Intel
WiMAX. WiFi. Why, yes.
Combining WiFi and WiMAX on tomorrow’s devices promises to bring ultimate mobility to users worldwide, and Intel is leading the industry to make this vision a reality. Earlier this year, Intel demonstrated a single chip, multi-band WiFi/WiMAX radio enabling connectivity for a full spectrum of mobile and ultra mobile PC devices. Additionally, Intel confirmed that it was developing for release a mobile WiMAX PC card for its Intel® Centrino® mobile technology-based platforms. The bottom line, wherever you see Wi-Fi today, you will see WiMAX tomorrow. For more information on how Intel is driving global WiMAX adoption, visit: www.intel.com/go/wimax .©2006 Intel Corporation. Intel, the Intel logo, Intel. Leap ahead., Intel. Leap ahead. logo and Intel Centrino are trademarks or registered trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries in the United States and other countries. All rights reserved.
April 2006 The Complete Guide to WiMAX
TYPES OF ACCESS TO A WiMAX NETWORK
Definition Devices Locations/ speed Single/ stationary Multiple/ stationary Multiple/ walking speed Multiple/ low vehicular speed Multiple/ high vehicular speed Handoffs 802.16- 802.16e 2004 No No Hard handoffs Hard handoffs Yes Yes No No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Fixed access Outdoor and
Nomadic access Portability Simple mobility Full mobility
Indoor CPEs, PCMCIA cards Laptop PCMCIA or mini cards Laptop PCMCIA or mini cards, PDAs or smartphones Laptop PCMCIA or mini cards, PDAs or smartphones
Source: Senza Fili Consulting, on behalf of the WiMax Forum
“You will see new devices that are richer on features and new form factors. You will get away from the network being the main thing and to devices that are intelligent and personal and reliable. Then, the market drivers will start to take effect, driving cost out of the devices, which will drive up volume.” Alvarion’s O’Neal even sees the potential for cars as broadband devices, taking advantages of the eventual Mobile WiMAX capability for mobile handoffs at vehicular speeds. “Why couldn’t you have a car that is synchronizing up with all kinds of different database as you are driving? It’s getting map information or downloading music,” he said. “It changes the whole idea of a satellite radio.” That kind of scenario may truly rely on the availability of “anywhere, everywhere” connectivity. Intel, like at least one or two other chipset developers, is creating an integrated Wi-Fi/WiMAX chipset because the company believes that making wide area connectivity and local area connectivity available in the same integrated package is another thing that will help service providers deliver new broadband services more economically. “There is a lot of capex involved in building networks and subsidizing devices, and carriers should have more ways of making money from these devices,” Intel’s Knudsen said. “Wi-Fi and WiMAX are very similar from a standards point of view, and they are both IP, so it makes a lot of sense.” Although Wi-Fi and WiMAX are very cozy partners, particularly in large-scale wireless mesh architectures, the relationship between Mobile WiMAX and 3G is
still pretty rough around the edges. Some people view Mobile WiMAX as directly and overwhelming competitive to 3G, while others see it as a broadband solution that is more a direct relation and next-generation alternative to location-dependent broadband services. One thing is certain: 3G is out on the market and beginning to enter a maturation phase while Mobile WiMAX is still a work in progress based on a standard approved only a few months ago. Operators of 3G networks are getting some experience with mobile broadband that companies waiting for Mobile WiMAX may take a little longer to acquire.
Mark Whitton, vice president and general manager for WiMAX at Nortel Networks, said, “To label 3G and WiMAX as purely competitive or purely complementary ignores the subtle strengths and weaknesses of the unique wireless technologies involved. 3G was designed to deliver ubiquitous voice in a mobile environment and is building upward from this strong base to also deliver higher-bandwidth services to highly portable devices. It carries with it the burden of backwards compatibility, and the complexity of implementing layers of services on top of each other,” he said, adding, “WiMAX is focused on dramatically dropping the cost per megabit for wireless broadband, while simultaneously delivering a real and significant increase in end-user bandwidth through the magic of OFDM and MIMO. These two business cases overlap at the edges and will inevitably compete with each other to some degree.” Still, for many service providers and vendors, Mobile WiMAX seems worth waiting for, to the degree that several service providers, such as BellSouth, are only recently taking a more active interest in the WiMAX Forum’s Mobile WiMAX certification efforts just as they are starting to heat up. Likewise, although several of the major equipment vendors opted to pass on the Fixed WiMAX opportunity, they are now assembling their strategies in order to attack the Mobile WiMAX opportunity. “There has been some waiting on the sidelines with Fixed WiMAX, but all the big iron vendors will have some way of addressing Mobile WiMAX,” O’Neal said. “Some will
FORECAST OF WORLDWIDE WiMAX SUBSCRIBERS FOR FIXED WIRELESS BROADBAND ACCESS
10,000 9000 8000 7000 6000 5000 4000 3000 2000 1000 0 6 Percentage of broadband subscribers 5 4 3 2 1
Thousands of subscribers
New fixed broadband WiMAX subscribers Percentage of total broadband subscribers
Source: iSuppli Corp.
The Complete Guide to WiMAX April 2006
have their own systems, and some will have OEM arrangements with other vendors.” This also could drive some consolidation in the vendor community during the product development phase of WiMAX, many people believe. The product development and pre-commercial phase for Mobile WiMAX is expected to extend for the rest of this year, with product certification at the WiMAX Forum expected to happen late this year and early next. The forum recently chose TTA, an independent lab in South Korea as it first certification testing house for Mobile WiMAX profiles. The testing plan is still being worked out, but sources from WiMAX Forum member companies said there are likely to be two initial phases for Mobile WiMAX certification testing. The first phase most likely will address gear in the 2.3 GHz spectrum band, the frequency that is being used for WiBro in South Korea and which also is being targeted for usage in several other countries. In the U.S., BellSouth owns a healthy stock of 2.3 GHz licenses. Many equipment vendors and carriers said they believe that the 2.5 GHz frequency, which is owned in the U.S by Sprint Nextel, Clearwire, BellSouth and others, would be next. The 2.5 GHz spectrum in some countries had been barred from being used for a service with mobility—something which many people blame the proponents of GSM mobile service—but those restrictions are now being lifted. “There is a significant demand for 802.16e-based systems already, even though Mobile WiMAX trials really haven’t gotten started yet,” said Paul Sergeant, senior marketing manager of alternative access for Motorola. “The 802.16e chips are only now starting to appear.” At the same time, the telecom industry is still working on those two other important migrations, the self-service evolution and the IMS evolution. Both will contribute significantly to the success of Mobile WiMAX. Self-installation is fast becoming a must-have capability in broadband wireless access systems. Carriers and vendors want to make it as easy as possible to install to give it a competitive advantage that separates it from earlier generations of residential broadband services. Meanwhile, “IMS will be essential to Mobile WiMAX,” Sergeant said. “It’s the glue that takes care of the roaming between different access networks.” With important telecom technology migrations all coming together at once, the industry really can foresee a time when
“Mobile WiMAX eventually could replace wired broadband—not now, but soon we’ll see at least a low penetration ... In 20 years, it could be a complete replacement. ”—Paul Sergeant, Motorola
personal broadband isn’t just one kind of broadband, but the only kind. “About 10 years ago, people were asking if mobile telephony really could replace landline,” Sergeant said. “Mobile WiMAx eventually could replace wired broadband—not now, but soon we’ll see at least a low penetration of Mobile WiMAX. In 10 years, it will be much bigger, and in 20 years, it could be a complete replacement.” ◗
Accelerate Your Broadband Opportunities
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©2006 NextNet Wireless, Inc. All Rights Reserved. NextNet and Expedience are registered trademarks of NextNet Wireless, Inc. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.
April 2006 The Complete Guide to WiMAX
Learning FROM EXPERIENCE
As the industry awaits Mobile WiMAX, carriers and vendors are getting valuable experience from trials and commercial deployments to help them improve the user experience. By Dan O’Shea
cations Services (WCS) spectrum band. The company initially deployed service last August in Athens, Ga., offering access speeds of 1.5 Mb/s, and has since deployed in Biloxi, Miss.; Gulfport, Miss.; New Orleans; Palatka, Fla.; and most recently in DeLand, Fla., in January. Susan Steele, senior director of wireless broadband for BellSouth, said in late January that the carrier’s broadband wireless expansion plan called for it to continue aggressively deploying base stations and building out new markets through 2006 and 2007. She said then that the company is aiming to meet a goal of having 22 base stations deployed in the 2.3 GHz range by 2007 to comply with minimum use requirements for the WCS spectrum formulated by the FCC. Also in late January, BellSouth issued a further request for proposal for broadband wireless equipment in the 2.3 GHz and 2.5 GHz ranges, what Steele at the time referred to as a “WiMAX RFP,” even though WiMAX Forum-certified equipment is not yet available in 2.3 GHz and 2.5 GHz profiles. Steele, though, also said When AT&T recently proposed to acquire BellSouth, telecom industry observers talked about the potential far-reaching implications for a number of different technologies and markets: Will BellSouth adopt AT&T’s architectural approach to IPTV? How will the two companies’ various hardware and software vendors be affected? Would the combined entity accelerate implementation of IP multimedia subsystem components and its pursuit of fixed/mobile convergence? These are all important questions that will affect the future of the companies, their vendors and their customers, but one question that was not being asked was: How will these companies, if they complete their proposed merger, integrate their strategies for WiMAX? With the deal likely to take a year or more to close, it may be a while before we know the answer. In the meantime, WiMAX will continue to evolve, and AT&T and BellSouth each probably will continue to learn from the broadband wireless experience they are already gaining through their own separate trials and commercial rollouts. WiMAX Forum-certified customer premises equipment, handsets, laptop cards and other subscriber access gear is not yet crowding the shelves at all the big-box consumer electronics retailers, but that has not stopped service providers and vendors from gathering information that will help them shape the experience on end users to come. BellSouth has been particularly busy with broadband wireless. The company owns spectrum licenses in both the 2.5 GHz former Multi-channel Multipoint Distribution Service (MMDS) band, as well as the 2.3 GHz Wireless Communi-
The Complete Guide to WiMAX April 2006
WiMAX CPE PRICING POTENTIAL
As volume increases, CPEs will decrease. The decrease in price will be rapid as equipment manufacturers try to get a stronghold on the consumer market.
$ 400 350 300 250 200 150 100 50 0
Source: Sky Light Research
that BellSouth would be working within the WiMAX Forum to coax the group to work on these profiles. The RFP was intended to detail the importance of price and speed-to-market requirements. “Price is a huge issue, and the bar has been set in broadband by DSL and cable modems already,” she said. Steele did not say where and how soon BellSouth plans to commercially deploy the equipment. “We’d like to get the responses and choose vendors to get something in our lab by the second quarter,” she said. AT&T also has been pursuing its own strategy for WiMAX. The company launched trials in Middleton, N.J., and in Atlanta over the last couple of years, and though the New Jersey trial only involved a single pre-WiMAX base station and a couple of enterprise customers, the Atlanta trial was expanded last summer to involve several sites. In public speeches over the last two years, different AT&T technology executives lamented the shortage of viable and available spectrum in which WiMAX could be deployed in the U.S.—for the trials, the carrier giant worked with spectrum “on loan” from the FCC. The merger with BellSouth would seem to help solve that spectrum problem, at least to some small degree. Even before AT&T and BellSouth announced their planned deal, there was another service provider megamerger—the union of Sprint and Nextel—that had broadband wireless and WiMAX as one of its footnotes. Both Nextel and Sprint owned spectrum in the 2.5 GHz band, and their marriage made Sprint Nextel the single largest owner of 2.5 GHz spectrum. Before their merger, which was an-
nounced in early 2005 and closed last August, Nextel already was pursuing tests and field trials of pre-WiMAX broadband wireless systems, including solutions using orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM) from Navini Networks, IPWireless and Flarion Technologies, among others. OFDM is the technology specified in the IEEE’s 802.16-2004 standard. In its earliest trials, Nextel, which operated an iDEN network, was looking for a wireless upgrade alternative that could match 3G. Company executives said at the time that they were looking for a broadband service solution that could be offered to customers
somewhere near the $20 per month range. Meanwhile, Sprint’s experience with the 2.5 GHz spectrum has been star-crossed. The company originally began offering MMDS services at least seven year years ago, but the solution never caught on and in 2001, with 52,000 customers signed up, Sprint stopped actively marketing the service. Later, in mid-2002, the company began trials with both Navini and IPWireless but has never committed to a broad commercial rollout (Though it recently extended its trial with IPWireless). Also, last summer, just before the merger with Nextel closed, Sprint signed on with Motorola to do an 802.16e technology trial and to contribute to the development of a Mobile WiMAX solution. Sprint also has a WiMAX-related partnership with Intel. To top it all off, Sprint Nextel said late last year that it was teaming with Samsung Telecommunications America to test technologies based on 802.16e, presumed to include WiBro, which Samsung pioneered in South Korea. (It was the primary vendor for one of the first public trials of WiBro with Korea Telecom at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit last November.) Barry West, chief technology officer of Sprint Nextel, said the relationship would provide the carrier with important information about infrastructure and handsets by testing Samsung terminals in lab and in field environments but also would provide guidance for developing future services. “The agreement with Samsung will help align technologies and validate requirements for
ROAD MAP FOR WiMAX USER DEVICES
802.16-2004 WiMAX 802.16e WiMAX
First certified products Outdoor CPE Indoor, self-installable CPE PCMCIA card for laptops First certified products PCMCIA card for laptops, indoor self-installable CPEs
Mini PCMCIA card for laptops PDA, smartphone
Source: Senza Fili Consulting, on behalf WiMAX Forum
April 2006 The Complete Guide to WiMAX
future wireless offerings,” he said. “We are evaluating multiple options for 2.5 GHz applications and fostering strategic relationships with ecosystem partners that are vital to progress on next-generation wireless broadband access and infrastructure.” After Sprint Nextel, Clearwire, the Kirkland, Wash., service provider founded by Craig McCaw, probably is the second-largest owner of licenses in 2.5 GHz spectrum. The company has been quietly but busily launching networks over the last three years in several countries. It serves 29 mar-
kets in the U.S. over the 2.5 GHz spectrum and serves other markets in Belgium, Ireland, Denmark and Mexico, among others, over 3.5 GHz spectrum. Clearwire typically offers service between $30 and $37 per month, according to its Web site, and access speeds are about 1.5 Mb/s for downlink and 256 kb/s from uplink. Clearwire’s Mexican partner, MVS.net, has been particularly busy of late, working with vendor NextNet Wireless, which itself is owned by Clearwire, to launch voice over IP and data services earlier this
year. Jose Antonio Abad, CEO of MVS.net, said in January that average call volume was 1.6 million calls per month, generating more than 3.7 million VoIP minutes per month across Mexico City, Monterrey, Guadalajara, Toluca and Mexicali. MVS.net is a carriers’ carrier. Some of its clients include Avantel (a joint venture of MCI), Alestra (a joint venture of AT&T) and its own ISP Ego. Miguel Calderon, Avantel’s executive vice president of marketing, said after the launch, “We are thrilled with the rapid uptake—our subscriber base is growing beyond our expectations, and call volumes are on the rise. We are experiencing the mass-market appeal of this technology firsthand and are happy to report that we are already ahead of our forecasted unit sales by 20%.” In Europe, service providers have been particularly aggressive deploying preWiMAX services. Irish Broadband has used equipment from Alvarion, Navini and others to offer a wide variety of services and bandwidth classes to both businesses and consumers for a range of monthly fees. Iberbanda in Spain has been similarly aggressive, deploying Aperto Networks gear as part of a national network buildout that
began in early 2005. Service providers in Kiev, Ukraine, and Islamabad, Pakistan, also recent deployed Aperto’s system at 3.5 GHz. The trial and commercial rollouts are giving all of the service providers in many countries necessary experience in selling broadband wireless to the masses. Though the industry is still very early in the evolution of WiMAX, with only a handful of actual WiMAX Forum-certified systems commercially available so far, these service providers have banked important information about what their customers are willing to pay and how they want to use the service. They are also already bringing broadband to the table for applications that can’t be addressed in other ways. NextNet customer Evertek, a wireless ISP in Sioux City, Iowa, deployed a solution for the local police force that enables police officers to access and send information from their cars over a high-bandwidth wireless connection. In one situation, police are even able to access a video streaming feed to monitor security at a local high school. Roxanne White, general manager of Evertek, said, “We were thrilled that we did not have to wait for WiMAX technology.” ◗
WIMAX SERVICE TYPES
Service Type Unsolicited grant services (UGS) Description UGS is designed to support real-time data streams consisting of fixed-sized data packets issued at periodic intervals, such as T-1/E-1 and VoIP. rtPS is designed to support real-time data streams consisting of variable-sized data packets that are issued at periodic intervals, such as MPEG video. nrtPS is designed to support delay-tolerant data streams consisting of variable-sized data packets for which a minimum data rate is required, such as FTP. BE service is designed to support data streams for which no minimum service level is required and which can be handled on a space-available basis.
Source: WiMAX Forum and Westech Communications white paper
Real-time polling service (rtPS)
Non-real-time polling service (nrtPS)
Best effort (BE)
Fixed and Mobile WiMAX
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April 2006 The Complete Guide to WiMAX
WiMAX Puts Service QUALITY ON DISPLAY
Depending on where you live, VoIP could be a killer app, a necessity or both. And quality isn’t necessarily something that carriers and users are willing to sacrifice. By Dan O’Shea
Juan Pablo Alfaro believes in the benefits of WiMAX. He isn’t just sitting around waiting for them to mature. The general director of MetroVia/Unitel in Guatemala watched four different cellular companies busily build out their separate networks in Guatemala City, each of them setting up their own 60-meter antennas at every potential cell site location in the city, all just to sell what was basically the same service. The company saw an opportunity to become a broadband wireless service provider using a wholesale model that would encourage competition in the market for services like voice over IP (VoIP). “Our vision was to build a single WiMAX network for all to share,” he said. “It did not make any economic sense to build an independent network for every operator. Instead, we envisioned building a single network for all ISPs that could benefit from the fact of sharing Capex with multiple operators.” MetroVia has two ISPs on their network offering Internet access today, and one of which will be offering a VoIP product over the network. Alfaro said his company has been working closely with vendor NextNet Wireless to ensure its capability to offer a quality VoIP service. “The issue of VoIP and QOS in our network is a major concern,” he said “For registered ISPs with VoIP products registered in our network, we are able to offer QOS and allot specific resources for their VoIP calls.” That is accomplished with the help of a NextNet system capable of distinguishing and defining different layers of service.“Voice over a broadband wireless system is still something that the industry is relatively new at,” said Chuck Riggle, vice president of business development for NextNet. “In a competitive market situation, the quality of service has to be like what you would get from a landline telco.” Alfaro said MetroVia is very focused on bandwidth management, measurement and traffic shaping in its network and in cooperation with its ISP customers. “Each ISP uses bandwidth differently, and we have, basically agreed to work together to traffic shape all protocols needed for applications beyond surfing and e-mail,” Alfaro said. For MetroVia, going with a wireline technology was not necessarily an alternative. “Getting wiring permits in our cities is almost impossible,” Alfaro said. “Also, the economics of deploying a plug-and-play application over a wired application are much better. Thanks to our wireless network, we have been able to provide services in all the different zones—metropolitan areas as determined by our municipality—of the city from day one. This would have been impossible with any other wired application.” The reasons that Alfaro gives for going wireless are exactly the reasons most people in the WiMAX community believe that quality VoIP can be a killer app in a developing country. Far and wide, in Latin America, Asia and Eastern Europe, there are many service providers that have rapidly begun offering VoIP over broadband wireless connections. In some markets, there are simply no alternatives, while in other markets, there is intense competition. Quality is key in both environments. “You can do VoIP over any kind of connection, but can you do real ‘IP telephony’ with all the quality features over that con-
The Complete Guide to WiMAX April 2006
nection?” asked Paul Sergeant, senior marketing manager for alternative access for Motorola. “There is a difference.” The WiMAX Forum created service quality types that are relatively similar to existing quality types for wireline packet service quality types, such as best effort, available bit rate, variable bit rate and constant bit rate. “The Applications Working Group in the WiMAX Forum came up with different application configurations and defined how much latency or jitter is acceptable for different services,” NextNet’s Riggle said. For WiMAX, the corresponding service quality types include best effort, non-realtime polling service, real-time polling service and unsolicited grant service. QOS was not part of the very first wave of WiMAX Forum certification testing late last year and early this year, but several vendors have been adhering to these quality expectations for a while. “QOS wasn’t part of [first-wave] certification testing,” said Elvis Tucker, director of solutions and alliances for Aperto Networks. “QOS is not mandated in the standard either. While those service types are defined, how the service flows are actually managed is not. That’s where vendors need
WIMAX SERVICE CLASSES
Service Type Interactive gaming VoIP, video conference Real Time?
Interactive gaming VoIP Video Phone Music/speech
50 – 85 kb/s 4 – 64 kb/s 32 – 284 kb/s 5 – 128 kb/s 20 – 384 kps > 2 Mb/s < 250 byte messages > 500 kb/s > 500 kb/s > 1 Mb/s > 500 kb/s
Video clips Movies streaming Instant messaging
Information technology Media content download (store and forward)
Web browsing E-mail (with attachments)
Bulk data, movie download Peer-to-peer
Source: WiMAX Forum and Westech Communications white paper
to be careful. In a network with different kinds of applications and expectations for performance, you want to have a way of managing that nailed-up connection on an end-to-end basis.” The top-level service type in WiMAX— unsolicited grant service—is the one that targets high-quality voice communica-
tions, as it is designed to support real-time data streams that have predictable packet sizes. Meanwhile, the real-time polling service type is designed for bursty traffic containing variable packet sizes—that corresponds directly to the nature of most video applications. Even if whole real-time polling service
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April 2006 The Complete Guide to WiMAX
seems right for some video applications, Aperto’s Tucker notes that users who are increasingly getting used to the idea of being able to watch TV on their mobile phones ultimately may not tolerate shaky or distorted video. “In some ways, video is even a more sensitive application than voice,” Tucker said. “It requires a lot of bandwidth and can’t really tolerate much latency.” NextNet’s Riggle added, “I’m not sure that WiMAX will be a direct replacement for something like cable TV but maybe for streaming applications or specialized video applications.” Tucker, whose company also has deployed VoIP networks for many carriers worldwide, estimates that at least 50% have some form of voice applications going over their networks. “We have one that is even running Vonage’s service over its network,” he said. “Voice is the second-largest application we see after Internet access, and I would say that video is in the 20% to 30% range.” In many cases, VoIP is being deployed as part of a multi-service mix for specific customers in specific types of markets. Last month, VSNL in India and CSM in Indonesia
“WiMAX is the way of the future simply because of the ease and practicality of having a portable Internet access application that allows us to service clients efficiently.”—Juan Pablo Alfaro, MetroVia
each deployed Aperto’s recently WiMAX Forum-certified system for multiple services, including voice and video. Applications requiring some promise of quality have taken off well ahead of WiMAX Forum-certified products becoming a massmarket phenomenon. As for the evolution of WIMAX, MetroVia’s Alfaro is eagerly anticipating the benefits of standards, product certification and interoperability, but he knows that the broadband wireless success story is already being told. “The great elusive WIMAX,” he said. “What is it? I think WIMAX as the standard we all imagine as the perfect mobile, high-bandwidth application, with limitless possibilities of access and undenied restrictions of usage, is not here today,” he said. “There are plenty of issues that need to be settled before WIMAX gives us all the benefits we expect from it. Having said this, I believe WIMAX is the way of the future simply because of the ease and practicality of having a portable Internet access application that allows us to service clients efficiently without truck rolls or waiting times.” But, he added, “In Guatemala, we say, ‘he who strikes first, strikes twice.’ WiMAX will be integrated into our network as it becomes an interoperable standard.” Although service providers like MetroVia and VNSL are getting a jump on the competition, it’s important to note that the worldwide market for VoIP and video over IP is still relatively young, with much more room to grow and mature. “You see numbers like 1 million new VoIP users being added every quarter,” Tucker said. “When you see that kind of growth, you realize that WiMAX will only continue to benefit from that.” ◗
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The Complete Guide to WiMAX April 2006
OFDMA Prepares TO MOVE ON
The technology’s different flavors have been around for some time, but the 802.16 effort created an industry standard around them. By Kevin Fitchard
In the last few years, orthogonal frequency division multiplexing access vendors made quite a splash, promising high-capacity, mobile broadband access well ahead of when WiMAX and 3G services were expected to be available. However, more recently, that hype has died off. After Qualcomm announced announced its acquisition of OFDMA’s biggest gest booster—the former Bell Labs spinoff Flarion Technologies—in August 2005, the relentless push to commercialize OFDMA as a proprietary technology has ceased. Why? OFDM pioneer Adaptix has a simple answer: standards. OFDM technologies have been so readily embraced by the standards bodies for both the broadband wireless access industry and the cellular industry, that pursuing the technology independently of the WiMAX Forum or the two major 3G standards bodies—3GPP and 3GPP2—is pointless, said Mike Pisterzi, CEO of Adaptix. OFDM was implicit in the 802.16-2004 standard that created the foundation for Fixed WiMAX, and OFDMA was written into the 802.16e specification ratified last December by the IEEE and will pave the way for Mobile WiMAX solutions. “OFDMA is mandatory in the 802.16e standard—it’s actually S-OFDMA, or scalable OFDMA,” said Paul Sergeant, senior marketing manager for alternative access for Motorola. “So, we are doing OFDMA, and we’re all doing it, and it is also one of the reasons why 802.16e is not directly backward compatible to 802.16-2004.” Although many products based on the 802.16e standard are still in the developmental phases, Adaptix has its own second-generation OFDMA Motion product line available with deployments in Asia. However, it’s betting the farm on its upcoming release of its third-generation technology, designed to meet the guidelines that have been laid out for Mobile WiMAX and the IEEE’s 802.16e standard. The potential for Mobile WiMAX is simply enormous, with potential profiles from the WiMAX Forum targeting the 2.5 GHz and 3.5 GHz frequencies that are available and in use in many countries worldwide, as well as 2.3 GHz and other frequencies. Those initial WiMAX Forum profiles also will cover a wide range of bandwidth channel specifications, including 5 MHz, 7 MHz, 8.75 MHz and 10 MHz. To continue to target niche markets with proprietary technology makes little sense, if a standardized version of that technology would grab the mass markets as well as niches, too, Pisterzi said. “If a vendor is comfortable with a non-standard technology and a small customer base, that’s fine,” Pisterzi said. “But the industry as a whole is moving toward standardization.”
hough often mistaken for one another, OFDM and OFDMA are actually two different variants of the same technology. Both divide one extremely “fast” signal into numerous “slow” signals, each spaced apart at precise frequencies. The advantage here is that those individual slow signals, or subcarriers, aren’t subject to the same intensity of multipath distortion faced by a single-carrier transmission—the data is traveling slowly enough that the effects of the distortion become negligible. The numerous subcarriers are then collected at the receiver and recombined
to form one high-speed transmission. The difference between OFDM and OFDMA is that OFDMA has the ability to dynamically assign a subset of those subcarriers to individual users, attuning the technology to the particular demands of mobility. Thus, OFDM technologies occupy nomadic, fixed and one-way transmission standards, ranging from TV transmission to Wi-Fi as well as well as Fixed WiMAX and newer multicast wireless systems like Qualcomm’s Forward Link Only (FLO). OFDMA, however, adds true mobility to the mix, forming the backbone of Mobile WiMAX and the 3GPP’s new standards for 3G long-term evolution (LTE). Furthermore, S-OFDMA allows for an increase in range of channel bandwidths from 1.25 MHz up to 20 MHz.
April 2006 The Complete Guide to WiMAX
“Mobile WiMAX, or 802.16-2005, is really misnamed,” said Mark Whitton, vice president and general manager for WiMAX at Nortel Networks. “802.16-2005 is an ideal solution for mobile, portable and fixed implementations of WiMAX, and it is essentially a superset of 802.16-2004, with significant performance advances like MIMO and scalable OFDMA.” On the 3G side, the 3GPP recently finalized the initial list of requirements for 3G mobility and coined the term LTE. The preliminary specs call for a complete shift in 3G standards away from wideband-CDMA to OFDM, meaning the future of wireless technology and its billions of users is headed in OFDMA’s direction. Cellular system vendors have jumped all over the new specifications, shoehorning years of research in OFDM and related technologies like multiple input/ multiple output (MIMO) and smart beam forming into the new standards track. “Where conventional smart antenna systems deliver performance gains by adding complex, costly and bulky equipment to the tower top, MIMO takes advantage of smaller and simpler changes in both the devices and the infrastructure to deliver performance improvements well beyond what
even the most complicated smart antennas can deliver,” Whitton said. Nortel unveiled its LTE product line, called high-speed OFDM packet access (HSOPA) at the 3GSM World Congress in Cannes, France in February. The platform is intended to pick up where the latest UMTS uplink and downlink upgrades leave off. Nortel already plans to have a prototype built by the end of the year, ready for lab tests, and carrier trial equipment ready by 2007. Qualcomm is pursuing both OFDM and OFDMA, using OFDM for its multicast technologies and in its pursuit of the 802.11n standard for the evolution of wireless LAN. And with its $600 million acquisition of Flarion completed in January, Qualcomm is lending the weight of its $1 billion annual R&D budget to further development of Flarion’s OFDMA technology toward the IEEE 802.20 standard, a broadband wireless technology that not only has mobility but really fast mobility (the typical example is that of a user maintaining a constant data connection while riding a bullet train). As for Flarion’s Flash OFDMA technology, Qualcomm isn’t quite so definite. Jeff Belk, Qualcomm senior vice president of marketing, said the vendor will continue
Paul Sergeant of Motorola
to support the existing product line and its existing customers but offered no insight as to whether it would continue to pursue the portfolio or simply wrap the technology up in its other OFDMA efforts. Regardless of Flash’s future as product line, Qualcomm is definitely gung-ho on the underlying technology itself. “Qualcomm has the scale to examine a broad range of technologies,” Belk said. “We’re not committing to just one product.” ◗
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The Complete Guide to WiMAX April 2006
Donna Carlson SKY LIGHT RESEARCH
Sky Light Research has done numerous reports over the last five years tracking and forecasting various developments in the broadband wireless and WiMAX markets. Its reports follow the market’s course from point-to-point and point-to-multipoint LMDS and microwave equipment through to Fixed WiMAX and the nascent and future development of the Mobile WiMAX market. The agency’s WiMAX product grid can be found on page 4. Donna Carlson, a principal analyst at Sky Light Research who just recently joined the firm, talked with Telephony editor-in-chief Dan O’Shea about the WiMAX dynamics at play as 2006 unfolds.
On Fixed WiMAX versus Mobile WiMAX:
I think it’s always been clear now that the customers for Fixed WiMAX and the customers for Mobile WiMAX are really two completely different groups of customers. The certification for Fixed WiMAX equipment and the current deployments are showing that. The first wave of certification for Fixed WiMAX equipment was really focusing a lot on interoperability of outdoor systems, so I don’t think there was is expected to be a real end-user market push for that. Some vendors chose to wait for Mobile WiMAX, but there are still a large number of vendors of Fixed WiMAX systems that have built a road map for 802.16e. Mobile WiMAX promises new economies of scale that will drive down price, and that will, of course, drive volume and adoption up.
that we’ll see won’t be Mobile WiMAX, but the WiBro profile within Mobile WiMAX. At the same time, I don’t think that WiBro will provide a full picture of what we can expect from Mobile WiMAX. There is some question about how soon we will see full mobility hand-off at vehicular speeds, and that is something that I am really interested in seeing. So, we will see how quickly the technology progresses. At the same time, other mobile broadband technologies are progressing. There are things like HSDPA (high-speed downlink packet access), and so Mobile WiMAX is not just evolving in its own window.
On other potential market hurdles in the evolutionary path for Mobile WiMAX:
I think you could add spectrum availability to the top of the list of hurdles. Spectrum licensing is still a challenge in a lot of countries around the world. Then, there are things like power management. That is a big concern. The hurdles may have more to do with the inherent complexity of 802.16e. There will have to be a lot of different profiles created.
Donna Carlson of Sky Light
On talk from some corners about VoIP being a killer app for Fixed WiMAX:
VoIP is available on many broadband wireless networks, and it is inevitably going to be a main application of broadband wireless networks in the long run. It could be an application that is driving deployment in countries in less developed markets, whereas data and other types of services will be driving applications in countries that are in more developed regions.
don’t you think? You don’t really know what you are going to have and what you are working with until you get it on the bench. It sort of depends on what you think you need to change once the pilot projects have been developed.
On the evolution of 802.16e to Mobile WiMAX:
Keep in mind that the very first mobile model
On whether there still could be adjustments to the 802.16e standard (last-minute changes delayed Fixed WiMAX certification earlier this year):
That is kind of customary with standards or with any kind of certification process,
On the use of smart antenna technology in Mobile WiMAX systems:
It’s a given that anyone building a system based on 802.16e is probably going to be using some form of smart antenna technology. Whether that is some variation of smart beam forming or MIMO (multiple input/ multiple output) remains to be seen. ◗
April 2006 The Complete Guide to WiMAX