WiMAX Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Broadband?

There is no universal definition for “Broadband”. In general, any connection capable of data rates greater than the dial-up modems’ limitation of 56 kbps is called Broadband.

However, with advancement of technology, the minimum data rate accepted as broadband has increased over time. OECD considers Internet connectivity capable of download speeds of at least 256 kbps as broadband. OECD’s definition is perceived as the de facto definition for Broadband; considering the fact that almost all the developed countries are a part of the OECD.

Refer: http://www.oecd.org/document/46/0,3343,en_2649_34225_39575598_1_1_1_1,00.html

What is WiMAX?

“Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access” - A last mile wireless access technology capable of providing high speed broadband connectivity.

Why WiMAX?

It is an all-IP, all packet technology with no legacy circuit telephony, which makes operational expenses very low, due to the transport efficiency of Internet Protocol (IP) for short bursty traffic such as data and single direction traffic such as voice. The use of all-IP enables the use of a common network core without the need to maintain both packet and circuit core networks, thereby eliminating the overhead that goes with it. Further the all-IP nature places the network on the performance growth curve of general purpose processors and computing devices ( Moore’s Law). Computer equipment advances much faster than telecom equipment because general purpose hardware is not limited to long and cumbersome telecom equipment cycles. The end result is a network that continually performs at higher capital and operational efficiency, and takes advantage of 3rd party development from the Internet community.

Is WiMAX an essential technology in the light of 3G and 3.5G technologies?

WiMAX technology has its distinct identity as either a stand-alone solution for incumbent and competitive fixed network operators or as complementary radio access solution for established 2G and 3G cellular network operators. Due to its inherent characteristics as compared to other technologies, WiMAX has a valuable and distinct role to play in the wireless ecosystem. Therefore the conventional wisdom is that WiMAX and 3G will be complementary and coexist. The business models and technical capabilities of the two technologies are different and analysts simply impress this reality by saying that “one size does not fit all”. WiMAX is designed for robust data services whereas 3G and 3.5G (WCDMA & HSDPA) are designed for mobile voice and moderate bandwidth multi-media content and data to small battery powered devices. Most importantly WiMAX is specifically designed for IP data (with good VoIP support) whereas 3G is designed for voice and extended to data, rendering WiMAX a better option for IP data. Simply WiMAX is for “heavy lifting” whereas 3G is for voice and limited data.

Cost wise WiMAX has a distinct advantage over 3G due to technical as well as regulatory implications. The spectral efficiency of WiMAX is high (usually twice or more) as compared to 3G and 3.5 G. This advantage is amplified further as the cost of WiMAX spectrum is cheaper than the 3G spectrum. Furthermore, depending on spectrum, WiMAX can be considerably faster than 3G. This enables WiMAX as a Low Cost / High Performance solution as well as a solution for emerging and rural markets. The scalable network architecture of WiMAX as against the complex network architecture of 3G further consolidates the distinct positioning of WiMAX in the wireless ecosystem.

What if WiMAX competes with 3G?

If WiMAX is to compete with 3G and eventually replace it (as some analysts believe) or substitute 3G and become a promising 4G (with the forthcoming standardization of 16m etc.) operators need to embrace WiMAX in a timely manner; as the technology development roadmaps towards 4G of WiMAX (through 16m etc.) and 3/3.5 G (through LTE) are independent and distinct with different timelines. The inherent “barrier to exit” associated with established and operational 3G/3.5G networks would be a critical factor in deciding the modality of embracing WiMAX technology by such operators. Whether the 3G operator himself adopts WiMAX or an associate in the group adopts WiMAX is the crucial decision that has to be made in such situations.

Is WiMAX a proven technology?

The simple answer is YES. WiMAX is a field proven technology embraced by many countries.

According to WiMAX forum data, there were 592 deployments in 149 countries as of November 2010. In addition to this, 150 trials are in progress in various parts of the world. Analysts predict that the average number of WiMAX users per country is heading for a near exponential growth within the next 3 to 5 years.

Furthermore, WiMAX technology is supported by a large and well established ecosystem.

As of November 2010, there were 62 WiMAX Forum certified Base Station models, 191 WiMAX Forum certified devices and over 25 silicon chip manufactures; serving the said 592 deployments in 149 counties. Technology giants like Intel & Samsung are strongly backing the technology and are committed to provide WiMAX enabled notebooks /tablets (100+ in the market), WiMAX embedded MIDs, consumer electronics (game consoles, MP3 players) and WiMAX + GSM/CDMA phones & PDAs. The Open Patent Alliance (OPA) of eight leading WiMAX vendors has enabled competitive development and widespread adoption which in turn has ensured that no single company is in a dominant patent ownership position. The globally harmonized common spectrum bands used for WiMAX deployment is another factor that has strengthened the WiMAX ecosystem.

More information on WiMAX Technology is available in the presentation downloadable under the tab “Technology Overview” .













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