WiMAX: Broadband for all

December 01, 2009

WiMAX: Broadband for all

People want constant access to broadband and Internet-enabled applications, and they want this capability everywhere they go.

ECD: Is the WiMAX infrastructure ready for embedded device manufacturers? Are System-on-Chip (SoC) and IP implementations of WiMAX ready?

RESNICK: The infrastructure is here. The WiMAX Forum currently tracks 504 WiMAX deployments in 145 countries, and all of these deployments depend on the established and rapidly growing WiMAX infrastructure.

WiMAX SoC and IP implementations are WiMAX ready and WiMAX Forum Certified. For example, the SQN1010-RD Reference Design demonstrates the capabilities of Sequans Communications’ SQN 1010 SoC and full software package. The platform enables system vendors to evaluate the performance of the SQN 1010, a highly integrated SoC that implements the full PHY and MAC layers necessary for 802.16-2004 compliant subscriber stations.

Another example, the MWM3280, is based on the Intel Wireless Multiconnection 3200 Multicomm chipset for mobile Internet devices and handhelds. The chipset includes a unified RF chip and a unified baseband chip, each supporting WiMAX, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS. The compliant portion of the product is in the firmware, and the host device interface is SDIO.

For more information on WiMAX Forum Certified chipsets and other equipment, visit the WiMAX Forum’s online product showcase at www.wimaxforum.org/certified-product-showcase.

ECD: WiMAX is about more than personal mobile devices, right? What’s going on in automotive, home, industrial, and medical spaces?

RESNICK: First and foremost, WiMAX offers cheap broadband access for the masses. Affordable broadband technology is creating new ways of delivering basic social services to underserved communities in developed and undeveloped countries.

While we definitely see opportunity in those spaces, some of those applications are still in development. The WiMAX Forum partners with three applications labs that engage college students to help discover solutions tailored to 4G technology. The WiMAX Forum also hosts a community-driven portal at http://community.4gdeveloper.com that offers 4G developers an open channel to discuss technical issues and share application development experiences.

For instance, in e-health care and education, Cisco is interested in WiMAX as a way to provide Internet services beyond basic connectivity to underserved and rural communities not covered by existing wired infrastructure. WiMAX is an ideal solution to reach these areas because it is quick to install and relatively inexpensive to build and operate.

Can’t services like e-health care be accessed on existing 3G networks? Yes, but there’s a difference: 3G services are more expensive to operate and offer a much lower level of performance. WiMAX technology is today’s broadband service of choice for several different industries and markets.

ECD: Given all that, what would you say is the one overriding trend that will reshape the way devices are developed in this new decade?

RESNICK: How people use the Internet in their personal lives is going to reshape the way devices are developed in the future. The success of consumer-friendly personal Internet devices like smart phones and netbooks are proving that people want constant access to broadband and Internet-enabled applications, and they want this capability everywhere they go.

For example, our applications lab in Taiwan is testing an application that lets users order food and beverages from fast food and sit-down restaurants before they arrive so there is no wait once they get there.

Another example is e-book readers, which are already connecting to the Internet via Wi-Fi, 2G, and 3G networks. WiMAX capability is coming soon. Recently, ASUSTeK announced that it will offer a WiMAX-enabled e-book reader by the end of 2009.

In the next year, you should expect to see WiMAX-enabled cameras, gaming devices, and more. That is the overarching trend to look for: the personalization of connectivity. How do you want to connect? What do you want to do? That is what we see driving the next 10 years of connected devices.


Ron Resnick is president and chairman of the WiMAX Forum, a position he has held since 2004. He is employed by Intel as an executive member of the Mobile Wireless Group, where he has worked since 2000. Before joining Intel, Ron served in executive marketing and business development roles, most recently as vice president of marketing at a computer peripherals company. He also served as a pilot in the U.S. Air Force. Ron earned a BS in Electrical Engineering from Rutgers University.

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