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What Is WiMAX?

WiMAX technology involves microwaves for the transfer of data wirelessly. It can be
used for high-speed, wireless networking at distances up to a few miles. The term
WiMAX comes from 'Wireless (Wi) Microwave Access (MA).' WiMAX is very
similar to Wi-Fi in that it uses the same core technology of wireless modulation
developed way back in the '60's and '70's, called OFDM (Orthogonal Frequency
Division Multiplexing).

The real benefit of WiMAX technology is that you can run signals very, very close to
each other on wireless channels. You can have super narrow lanes, so you can put a
lot of traffic over them and they don't disrupt each other.

Standards associated to WiMAX

Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (WiMAX) is the common name


associated to the IEEE 802.16a/REVd/e standards. These standards are issued by the
IEEE 802.16 subgroup that originally covered the Wireless Local Loop (WLL)
technologies with radio spectrum from 10 to 66 GHz. Recently, these specifications
were extended below 10 GHz.

• In January 2003, the IEEE approved 802.16a as an amendment to IEEE 802.16-


2001, defining (Near) Line-Of-Sight capability.

• In July 2004, IEEE 802.16REVd, now published under the name IEEE 802.16-
2004, introduces support for indoor CPE (NLOS) through additional radio capabilities
such as antenna beam forming and OFDM sub-channeling.

• Early 2005, an IEEE 802.16e variant will introduce support for mobility.
The Technology Vision for WiMAX

WiMAX, or 802.16, is a fast-emerging wide-area wireless broadband technology that


shows great promise as the "last mile" solution for bringing high-speed Internet access
into homes and businesses. While the more familiar Wi-Fi (802.11a, b and g) handles
local areas, such as in offices or hotspots, WiMAX covers wider, metropolitan or rural
areas. It can provide data rates up to 75 megabits per second (Mbps) per base station
with typical cell sizes of 2 to 10 kilometers. This is enough bandwidth to
simultaneously support (through a single base station) more than 60 businesses with
T1/E1-type connectivity and hundreds of homes with DSL-type connectivity.

WiMAX systems can be used to transmit signal as far as 30 miles. However, on the
average a WiMAX base-station installation will likely cover between three to five
miles.

802. What?

The popularity of wireless networking has grown very quickly because of effective
standardization. Wi-Fi encompasses a family of specifications within the IEEE 802.11
standard. These include 802.11b (the most popular, at 11Mbit/sec., with a typical
range of up to 300 feet), 802.11a (54Mbit/sec., but at a shorter range than 802.11b)
and 802.11g (combining the speed of "a" with the range of "b").

WiMax is the new shorthand term for IEEE Standard 802.16, also known as
"Air Interface for Fixed Broadband Wireless Access Systems." It's been designed
from the beginning to be compatible with European standards—something that didn't
happen with 802.11a and delayed its adoption.

The initial version of the 802.16 standard, approved by the New York-based
IEEE in 2002, operates in the 10-to-66-GHz frequency band and requires line-of-sight
towers.
The 802.16a extension, ratified in March 2003, doesn't require line-of-sight
transmission and allows use of lower frequencies (2 to 11 GHz), many of which are
unregulated. It boasts a 31-mile range and 70Mbit/sec. data transfer rates that can
support thousands of users.

Additional 802.16 standards are in the works; here's what they'll cover:
802.16b—Quality of service
802.16c—Interoperability, with protocols and test-suite structures
802.16d—fixing things not covered by 802.11c, which is the standard for
developing access points
802.16e—Support for mobile as well as fixed broadband
How is WiMAX different from Wi-Fi?

Although the fundamental technology is the same, over time we can add levels of
sophistication to WiMAX. Wi-Fi channels occupy a fixed width of the spectrum. But
with WiMAX, we're going to enable the traffic lanes – or channels – to get smaller
and narrower. This helps service providers seeking to offer wireless last-mile DSL or
cable-type service because they can provide a narrower channel that uses less
bandwidth and serve more users. You can take what used to be a fixed Wi-Fi lane and
make a bunch more lanes and serve more people.

The other big difference between Wi-Fi and WiMAX – starting right away – is that
we're going to use licensed spectrum to deliver WiMAX. To date, all Wi-Fi
technology has been delivered in unlicensed spectrum. WiMAX will use one of the
unlicensed frequencies, but we're also supporting two other frequencies that are
licensed. What that means is that you can turn up the output power and broadcast
longer distances. So where Wi-Fi is something that is measured in hundreds of feet,
usually WiMAX will have a very good value proposition and bandwidth up to several
miles.

Also WiMAX is designed to be a carrier-grade technology, which requires a higher


level of reliability and quality of service than are now available in typical Wi-Fi
implementations.

Those fundamental differences make WiMAX more of a metropolitan area access


technology versus hotspot.

WiMAX product availability

Mass deployment of WiMAX products is planned in three phases:

• The first phase of WiMAX technology (based on IEEE 802.16d) will provide
fixed wireless connections via outdoor antennas in the first half of 2005.
Outdoor fixed wireless can be used for high-throughput enterprise connections
(T1/E1 class services), hotspot and cellular network backhaul, and premium
residential services.

• In the second half of 2005, WiMAX will be available for indoor installation,
with smaller antennas similar to a Wi-Fi access point today. In this fixed
indoor model, WiMAX will be available for use in wide consumer residential
broadband deployments, as these devices become "user installable," lowering
installation costs for carriers.

• By 2006, the technology will be integrated into mobile computers to support


roaming between WiMAX service areas.
Market for WiMAX

WiMAX will boost today's highly fragmented BWA market thanks to standardization
and interoperability, state-of-the-art radio efficiency with NLOS capability, and
strong support from the radio equipment manufacturers and chipset industries.
WiMAX will also target the data-centric mobility market with the introduction of
lower power consumption chipsets. The strong support from some of the most
important chipsets manufacturers such as Intel is a key enabler for the success of
WiMAX, since it will lead to wide availability of affordable WiMAX-enabled
terminals (e.g., laptops, PDAs, etc.).

WiMAX as a Metro-Access Deployment Option

WiMAX is a worldwide certification addressing interoperability across IEEE 802.16


standards-based products. The IEEE 802.16 standard with specific revisions addresses
two usage models:
• Fixed
• Portable

Fixed

The IEEE 802.16-2004 standard (which revises and replaces IEEE 802.16a and
802.16REVd versions) is designed for fixed-access usage models. This standard may
be referred to as “fixed wireless” because it uses a mounted antenna at the
subscriber’s site. The antenna is mounted to a roof or mast, similar to a satellite
television dish. IEEE 802.16-2004 also addresses indoor installations, in which case it
may not be as robust as in outdoor installations.

The 802.16-2004 standards is a wireless solution for fixed broadband Internet access
that provides an interoperable, carrier-class solution for the last mile. The Intel
WiMAX solution for fixed access operates in the licensed 2.5-GHz, 3.5-GHz and
license-exempt 5.8-GHz bands. This technology provides a wireless alternative to the
cable modem, digital subscriber lines of any type (xDSL), transmit/exchange (Tx/Ex)
circuits and optical carrier level (OC-x) circuits.

Portable

The IEEE 802.16e standard is an amendment to the 802.16-2004 base specification


and targets the mobile market by adding portability and the ability for mobile clients
with IEEE 802.16e adapters to connect directly to the WiMAX network to the
standard. The 802.16e standard is expected to be ratified in early 2005.

The 802.16e standard uses Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access


(OFDMA), which is similar to OFDM in that it divides the carriers into multiple sub
carriers. OFDMA, however, goes a step further by then grouping multiple sub carriers
into sub-channels. A single client or subscriber station might transmit using all of the
sub-channels within the carrier space, or multiple clients might transmit with each
using a portion of the total number of sub-channels simultaneously.

The IEEE 802.16-2004 standard improves last-mile delivery in several key aspects:
• Multi-path interference
• Delay spread
• Robustness
Multi-path interference and delay spread improve performance in situations where
there is not a direct line-of-sight path between the base station and the subscriber
station.

The emerging 802.16-2004 media-access control (MAC) is optimized for long-


distance links because it is designed to tolerate longer delays and delay variations.
The 802.16 specification accommodates MAC management messages that allow the
base station to query the subscriber station, but there is a certain amount of time
delay.

WiMAX equipment operating in license-exempt frequency bands will use time-


division duplexing (TDD); equipment operating in licensed frequency bands will use
either TDD or frequency-division duplexing (FDD). Intel WiMAX products will
support TDD and half-duplex FDD operation.

The IEEE 802.16-2004 standard uses OFDM for optimization of wireless data
services. Systems based on the emerging IEEE 802.16-2004 standards are the only
standardized OFDM based, wireless metropolitan area networks (WMAN) platforms.

In the case of 802.16-2004, the OFDM signal is divided into 256 carriers instead of 64
as with the 802.11 standard. As previously stated, the larger number of subcarriers
over the same band results in narrower subcarriers, which is equivalent to larger
symbol periods. The same percentage of guard time or cyclic prefix (CP) provides
larger absolute values in time for larger delay spread and multi-path immunity.

The 802.11 standard provides one-fourth of the OFDM options for CP than does the
802.16-2004 standard, which provides 1/32, 1/16, 1/8 and 1/4, where each can be
optimally set. For a 20-MHz bandwidth, the difference between a ¼ CP in .11 and 16
would be a factor of four because of the ratio 256/64. In OFDMA with 2048 FFT size,
the ratio is 32.

The physical layers (PHYs) for both 802.11 and 802.16-2004 are designed to tolerate
delay spread. Because the 802.11 standard was designed for 100 meters, it can tolerate
only about 900 nanoseconds of delay spread. The 802.16-2004 standard tolerates up
to 10 microseconds of delay spread— more than 1000 times than in the 802.11
standard.

Range and Scalability

The 802.16-2004 standard relies upon a grant-request access protocol that, in contrast
to the contention-based access used under 802.11 doesn’t allow data collisions and,
therefore, uses the available bandwidth more efficiently. No collisions means no loss
of bandwidth due to data retransmission. All communication is coordinated by the
base station. Other characteristics of the 802.16-2004 standards include:

• Improved user connectivity—the 802.16-2004 standard keeps more users


connected by virtue of its flexible channel widths and adaptive modulation. Because it
uses channels narrower than the fixed 20-MHz channels used in 802.11, the 802.16-
2004 standards can serve lower data-rate subscribers without wasting bandwidth.
When subscribers encounter noisy conditions or low signal strength, the adaptive
modulation scheme keeps them connected when they might otherwise be dropped.
• Higher quality of service—this standard also enables WISPs to ensure QoS for
customers that require it and to tailor service levels to meet different customer
requirements. For example, the 802.16-2004 standards can guarantee high bandwidth
to business customers or low latency for voice and video applications, while
providing only best-effort and lower-cost service to residential Internet surfers.

• Full support for WMAN service—from its inception, the 802.16-2004 standard
was designed to provide WMAN service. Hence, it is able to support more users and
deliver faster data rates at longer distances than last-mile implementations based on
the 802.11g standard.

• Robust carrier-class operation—the standard was designed for carrier-class


operation. As more users join, they must share the aggregate bandwidth and their
individual throughput decreases linearly. The decrease, however, is much less
dramatic than what is experienced under 802.11. This capability is termed “efficient
multiple access.”

Flexible Channel Bandwidth

As the distance between a subscriber and the base station increases, or as the
subscriber starts to move by walking or driving in a car, it becomes more of a
challenge for that subscriber to transmit successfully back to the base station at a
given power level. For power-sensitive platforms such as laptop computers or
handheld devices, it’s often not possible for them to transmit to the base station over
long distances if the channel bandwidth is wide. The 802.11 channel bandwidth is
fixed at 20 MHz. In contrast, applications modeled on third-generation principles
limit channel bandwidth to about 1.5 MHz to provide longer range.

The IEEE 802.16-2004 and IEEE 802.16e standards have flexible channel bandwidths
between 1.5 and 20 MHz to facilitate transmission over longer ranges and to different
types of subscriber platforms. In addition, this flexibility of channel bandwidth is also
crucial for cell planning, especially in the licensed spectrum. For scalability, an
operator with 14 MHz of available spectrum, for example, may divide that spectrum
into four sectors of 3.5 MHz to have multiple sectors (transmit/receive pairs) on the
same base station.

With a dedicated antenna, each sector has the potential to reach users with more
throughput over longer ranges than can an omni-directional antenna. Net-to-net,
flexible channel bandwidth is imperative for cell planning.

The 802.16-2004 standards have strong commercial backing to go along with its
technical capabilities. The WiMAX Forum, a nonprofit group that promotes 802.16-
2004 technology, has as its goal the certification of interoperable 802.16-2004
standard products, regardless of vendor. In that regard, the forum is following the lead
of the Wi-Fi Alliance, which helped popularize and commercialize 802.11 standard
technologies.
Founded in 2003 by wireless service providers and equipment manufacturers, the
WiMAX Forum now includes almost 70 member companies. Several of them expect
to deliver WiMAX-certified products later this year.
Smart Antenna Support

Smart antennas are being used to increase the spectral density (that is, the number of
bits that can be communicated over a given channel in a given time) and to increase
the signal-to-noise ratio for both Wi-Fi and WiMAX solutions. Because of
performance and technology, the 802.16-2004 standard supports several adaptive
smart antenna types, including:

• Receive spatial diversity antennas—Entails more than one antenna receiving the
signal. The antennas need to be placed at least half a wavelength apart to operate
effectively. Note that wavelength can be derived by taking the inverse of the
frequency. For example, for a 2.5-GHz carrier the wavelength would be 0.13 meters
or 5.1 inches. For a 5.8-GHz carrier the wavelength would be 0.05 meter or 1.9
inches. When considering half a wavelength for the frequencies of interest, we are
talking one to two and a half inches. Maintaining this minimum distance ensures that
the antennas are incoherent, that is, they will be impacted differently by the
additive/subtractive effects of signals arriving by means of multiple paths.

• Simple diversity antennas—detect the signal strength of the multiple (two or more)
antennas attached and switch that antenna into the receiver. The more incoherent
antennas to choose from, the higher the likelihood of getting a strong signal.

• Beam-steering antennas—Shape the antenna array pattern to produce high gains in


the useful signal direction or notches that reject interference. High antenna gain
increases the signal, noise and rate. The directional pattern attenuates the interference
out of the main beam. Selective fading can be mitigated if multi-path components
arrive with a sufficient angular separation.

• Beam-forming antennas—allow the area around a base station to be divided into


sectors, allowing additional frequency reuse among sectors. The number of sectors
can range from as few as four to as many as 24. Base stations that intelligently
manage sectors have been used for a long time in mobile-service base stations.

WiMAX, a complement to fixed and mobile access


WiMAX integrates perfectly into existing fixed and mobile networks, complementing
them when needed.

WiMAX for fixed wireless access

Nationwide broadband access has become a priority in many countries. In most


developed countries, the average broadband coverage will reach 90% in the coming
years. Still, in some rural areas of such countries, broadband coverage will not exceed
50%.
The service gap can be categorized by two characteristics: the type of area (rural or
urban) and the level of national development. In developed countries, DSL service
deployment has been massive in urban and sub-urban deployments, whereas coverage
of remote areas - smaller towns and rural areas - is lagging behind. Hurdles to
overcome are the poor line quality of the installed copper base, the large distances to
the central offices or cabinets, or the low population density. In this context, WiMAX,
with its QoS support, longer reach, and data rates similar to DSL, is naturally
positioned as a viable first mile option to offer broadband access to residential users.

In emerging countries, the main focus of broadband deployment is on urban and sub-
urban areas, and will remain so in the near future. The low POTS penetration and the
low quality of the copper pair prevent mass scale DSL deployment and foster the need
for alternate broadband technologies. In this context, WiMAX is positioned as an
excellent option. Moreover, the possibility of offering broadband services in
combination with voice services will gradually lead to narrowband WLL substitution.

Parameters such as availability of the copper, distance to the remote unit/central


office, backhauling costs, and teledensity will drive the choice for one or other of
these solutions. For further details, refer to the article "Providing Always-on
Broadband Access to Under-served Areas" in the Alcatel Telecommunication Review
(Q4 2003).

WiMax is of interest for large enterprises with several locations in the same
metropolitan area. WiMax will permit Operator's bypass under license conditions:
building a metropolitan private network of IP lines at a very low cost (no civil works).
The comparison to leased lines rental fee is in favor of WiMax even for two sites
only.

Deployment topologies

Several topology and backhauling options are to be supported on the WiMAX base
stations: wireline backhauling (typically over Ethernet), microwave Point-to-Point
connection, as well as WiMAX backhaul.
With the latter option, the base station has the capability to backhaul itself. This can
be achieved by reserving part of the bandwidth normally used for the end-user traffic
and using it for backhauling purposes.

WiMAX for Portable Internet

WiMAX, the natural complement to mobile and Wi-Fi networks

Mobile networks offer full mobility, nation-wide coverage voice support and
moderate data rates. WiMAX can then be positioned as a complementary solution by
offering higher bandwidth when required, in particular in dense urban areas.

Public WLAN, while offering clear benefits, is limited in coverage and mobility
capabilities. WiMAX by-passes these limitations and offers broadband connectivity in
larger areas (hot zones). Wi-Fi and WiMAX solutions are also complementary, with
Wi-Fi being more adapted for short-range, indoor connections (in particular in the
enterprise and at home) and WiMAX for long- range outdoor connections.

From nomadicity to Portable Internet

While nomadicity offers connectivity within the coverage area of a single base
station, Portable Internet implies session continuity throughout the network. In
addition a new generation of networks with multi-access (3G, Wi-Fi, WiMAX, DSL,
FTTU, etc.) enable end-users to enjoy an "Always Best Connected" experience when
accessing their applications via the best available network at home, on the pause, or
on the move.
WiMAX becomes an additional radio access solution in the global network
architecture.

The WiMAX CPE

In most case, a simple plug and play terminal, similar to a DSL modem, provides
connectivity.

For customers located several kilometers from the WiMAX base station, a self-install
outdoor antenna may be required to improve transmission quality. To serve isolated
customers, a directive antenna pointing to the WiMAX base station may be required.
For customers requesting voice in addition to broadband services, specific CPE will
allow the connection of standard or VoIP phones. Ultimately, WiMAX chipset will be
embedded in data-centric devices.
Operator's business case

WiMAX is of interest for incumbent, alternate, and mobile operators. Some business
cases are possible.

• The incumbent operators can use the wireless technology as a complement to DSL,
allowing them to offer DSL-like services in remote, low density areas that cannot be
served with DSL.

• For alternate operators, the wireless technology is the solution for a competitive
high-speed Internet and voice offering bypassing the landline facilities, with
applicability in urban or sub-urban areas.

• The larger opportunity will come with the Portable Internet usage, complementing
fixed and mobile solution in urban and suburban areas. Therefore it will enhance the
business case by giving access to a large potential of end users.

WiMAX, the obvious choice for operators

By integrating WiMAX into their networks, mobile operators can boost their service
with high bandwidth, when necessary, the same applications (messaging, agenda,
location-based services …) being offered on both networks with a single billing and
subscriber profile. Mobile operators can also reuse existing radio sites and
backhauling equipment to facilitate the deployment of WiMAX.

Fixed operators, incumbent or alternate, will offer nomadic and Portable Internet
usage as an addition to their fixed access offering to complement their DSL and Wi-Fi
bundle. For those having deployed WiMAX for fixed access, this is also a natural
evolution of their offering.

The Problems WiMAX Solves


WiMAX is all about delivering broadband wireless access to the masses. It represents an
inexpensive alternative to digital subscriber lines (DSL) and cable broadband access.
The installation costs for a wireless infrastructure based on 802.16 is far less than
today's wired solutions, which often require laying cables and ripping up buildings and
streets. For this reason, WiMAX makes an attractive solution for providing the last mile
connection in wireless metropolitan area networks.

In parts of the world lacking a well-developed wired infrastructure, 802.16 offer a


practical way to extend service to many different parts of a country, such as China or
India. WiMAX could bring broadband access into the homes and businesses of millions
of people in rural and developing markets.

WiMAX can also solve the problem of how to keep wireless notebooks and other
mobile devices connected between 802.11 hotspots. An 802.16e amendment will add
mobility to 802.16. As early as 2006, 802.16 could be incorporated into end-user
devices like notebooks and PDAs, enabling the delivery of wireless broadband directly
to the end-user on the move.

WiMAX is not a new technology. It is a more innovative and commercially viable


adaptation of a technology already used to deliver broadband wireless services in
proprietary installations around the globe. Wireless broadband access systems are
already deployed in more than 125 countries.

What differentiates 802.16 from earlier broadband wireless access (BWA) iterations is
standardization. In these earlier solutions, the chipsets were custom-built for each
broadband wireless access vendor, requiring a great deal of time and cost. Intel, Fujitsu
and others would like to bring economies of scale to broadband wireless-cost savings
that would go a long way toward creating a larger market.

The IEEE 802.16 standard enables solutions that meet the needs of a variety of
broadband access segments.

What will users be able to do via WiMAX that they can't do with existing
technologies?

There are areas of the world - especially in emerging markets and rural areas - where
deploying wired broadband infrastructure is not cost effective. WiMAX is very cost
effective technology to quickly deploy in the regions which otherwise would not have
broadband access. So WiMAX helps spread broadband to more users more quickly
than existing technologies.

Another benefit of WiMAX is the ability to get higher connection speeds farther away
from the transmitter. Right now you can get a really high speed connection in Wi-Fi
close to the transmitter. The other option is that you can get a pretty slow Internet
connection using a cellular technology, which spans a greater distance. WiMAX fits
between those two offerings. You'll get speeds similar to close-up Wi-Fi connections
out to several miles away from the transmitter.

WiMAX will also be much easier to install, which makes it more cost-effective for
service providers and hopefully some of those savings will accrue to users.

When 802.16e comes out in 2006, the improvements become more obvious.
Scalability and multi-access capabilities would be added to the fixed OFDM
technology. This will make the channels scalable and the lanes different sizes to
extend broadband wireless access across a larger geography. Fixed wireless access is
known as OFDM, and the industry term for this scalable technology is SOFDMA – or
Scalable OFDM Multi-Access. From the technical side, it's a pretty big change. So it's
very similar in concept to today's more evolved, multi-access cellular technologies.

The WiMAX Forum (the Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access Forum) is
a non-profit corporation formed by equipment and component suppliers, including
Intel Corporation, to promote the adoption of IEEE 802.16 compliant equipment by
operators of broadband wireless access systems. The organization is working to
facilitate the deployment of broadband wireless networks based on the IEEE 802.16
standard by helping to ensure the compatibility and interoperability of broadband
wireless access equipment.

Benefits to Operators

By choosing interoperable, standards-based equipment, wireless operators and carriers


will see new benefits in deploying their wireless systems, such as:

• Economies of scale enabled by the standard to lower equipment costs

• Operators are not locked in to a single vendor, because base stations will
interoperate with subscriber stations from different manufacturers.

• Ultimately, operators will benefit from lower-cost and higher-performance


equipment, as equipment manufacturers rapidly create product innovations
based on a common, standards-based platform.

How does WiMAX compare to 3G?

3G has been built on the foundation of a voice network. And the 3G community is
adding data capability to it. Our objective for WiMAX 802.16e is to be a high speed
data service that can be used to extend and complement 3G service. We know of
several 3G service providers that are worried that as data use grows they will not have
enough spectrum for both their voice customers and their data customers. So they're
interested in WiMAX as a complementary data service technology that they can
deploy with their 3G voice service. So essentially, WiMAX is much targeted for
wireless data, not wireless voice.

There's another big difference between WiMAX and cellular technologies in general.
Cellular grew up – more or less – where the whole system was architected from the
network and base station all the way out to the client – typically the phone – and
different vendors' equipment didn't necessarily work together. Eventually there were a
lot of separate networks. Roaming agreements have been put in place, so that more so
and more so you can work on other people's networks, although you'll be charged
extra for it. With WiMAX we're working to get that type of interoperability and more
- from Day One. That means if you buy a client made out of silicon by Intel, you
could use it on several different networks even if the base stations are provided by
different companies.

What WiMAX Brings to People Everywhere

What makes WiMAX so attractive is its potential to provide broadband wireless


access to entire sections of metropolitan areas, as well as small and remote locales
throughout the world. People who could not afford it, will now be able to get
broadband — and in places it may not have been available previously. It enables
coverage of a large geography very quickly.

For wireless notebook users, 802.16 will provide a big boost to the proliferation of
hotspots, making it more convenient and potentially cheaper to connect. Through
802.16e, WiMAX will also span the gaps in coverage between one hotspot and
another, a home and a hotspot, or an office and a hotspot.

For many businesses, particularly small businesses that are out of reach of DSL or not
part of the residential cable infrastructure, 802.16 represents an easy, affordable way
to get connected to broadband.

For industry, 802.16 provide a standard to rally around and an opportunity to shape
what's been a limited industry into something more marketable and deployable to the
masses. In fact, WiMAX already has an advantage, coming on the heels of Wi-Fi. The
original Wi-Fi specification was interpreted differently by different vendors, resulting
in many interoperability problems as wireless LAN equipment hit the market well
before there was a standard. WiMAX, on the other hand, already has a standard in
place.

"Anywhere, anytime connectivity”

Today, Wi-Fi kind of lives by what we call the "five minute rule." If you live in a city,
most likely you can walk five minutes and find a hotspot. Or if you're in your car in
the suburbs or a village, you can usually drive within five minutes and find one of
those. With WiMAX we're trying to offer that same type of service without having to
drive or walk five minutes. Eventually, you can just open your notebook and get a
connection, wherever you may be.

When WiMAX is fully developed, you'll no longer be limited to 300 feet within the
Wi-Fi hotspot. And you won't have to drive around looking for a connection. Even
though it's only five minutes, it's still five minutes, and that's just not as natural as
getting a connection anywhere.

When people have a broadband connection they tend to use their computer more, they
leave it on and they integrate it more into their lifestyle. WiMAX technology extends
the range of broadband wireless access to more users in more geographies. This
happens first with last mile connections where anyone wants them, and eventually in
notebook mode for mobility. We believe WiMAX can be deployed in any metro area,
using the licensed spectrum that we are working with today, and it moves around the
world.

Progress on the WiMAX Standard


The core 802.16 specification was an air interface standard for broadband wireless access
systems using point-to-multipoint infrastructure designs and operating at radio
frequencies between 10 GHz and 66 GHz. That standard wasn't complete in many
peoples' minds. It applied only to line-of-sight deployment in the licensed spectrum,
didn't offer any conformance guidelines, and ignored ongoing development of the similar
European HiperMAN standard.

The 802.16a collection of amendments takes into account the emergence of licensed and
license-exempt broadband wireless networks operating between 2 GHz and 11 GHz, with
support for non-line-of-sight architectures that could not be supported in higher frequency
ranges. The 802.16a version adds three new PHY-layer specifications: a single-carrier
layer, a 256-point FFT OFDM (fast Fourier transform orthogonal frequency division
multiplexing) layer, and a 2048-point FFT OFDMA layer. The 256-point waveform is
employed by both WiMAX and the European Telecommunications Standards Institute
(ETSI)'s HiperMAN standard, ensuring worldwide interoperability.

The amended standard allows WiMAX deployment in varying channel capacities to


address the different amounts of spectrum that carriers own from market to market and in
different parts of the world. The inclusion of time division duplexing (TDD) and
frequency division duplexing (FDD) adds to WiMAX's international potential. The
802.16a version also makes enhancements to the Media Access Control (MAC) layer, and
adds quality of service features.
While 802.16a does much to improve on the original standard, the core standard has had
enough amendments attached to it that the IEEE is now redrafting the specification. The
new standard, referred to as 802.16 Revision D, was approved as an IEEE standard in
June 2004. The new core specification will include everything that has changed about the
standard thus far. Then in 2005, the IEEE plans to produce 802.16e, the amendment
introducing mobility.

The WiMAX Forum will conduct testing and label compliant products "WiMAX
Forum Certified." This will guarantee they have been independently verified to
conform to the standard and be interoperable with other vendor equipment. Service
providers will consequently be able to purchase equipment from numerous vendors,
reducing investment risks and creating a price-competitive marketplace.

What will it take to put WiMAX out around the world?

We really only need to make sure we have access to spectrum – the same frequencies
– all the way around the world. We're specifically working on three frequencies for
WiMAX deployment worldwide. 5.8 GHz unlicensed is the same spectrum as Wi-Fi,
and so all the benefits of that Wi-Fi spectrum can be made available with WiMAX
technology. However, because it's unlicensed, we'll be limited on the distance we'll be
able to transmit. In the licensed frequencies we've targeted for WiMAX – 2.5 GHz
and 3.5 GHz. The WiMAX community and Intel are working with various
governments around the world to allow the use of WiMAX in this spectrum.
WiMAX Technology Challenge
WiMAX, more flexibility and security

Unlike WLAN, WiMAX provides a media access control (MAC) layer that uses a
grant-request mechanism to authorize the exchange of data. This feature allows better
exploitation of the radio resources, in particular with smart antennas, and independent
management of the traffic of every user. This simplifies the support of real-time and
voice applications.

One of the inhibitors to widespread deployment of WLAN was the poor security
feature of the first releases. WiMAX proposes the full range of security features to
ensure secured data exchange:
• Terminal authentication by exchanging certificates to prevent rogue devices,
• User authentication using the Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP),
• Data encryption using the Data Encryption Standard (DES) or Advanced
Encryption Standard (AES), both much more robust than the Wireless Equivalent
Privacy (WEP) initially used by WLAN. Furthermore, each service is encrypted with
its own security association and private keys.

WiMAX, a very efficient radio solution

WiMAX must be able to provide a reliable service over long distances to customers
using indoor terminals or PC cards (like today's WLAN cards). These requirements,
with limited transmit power to comply with health requirements, will limit the link
budget. Subchannelling in uplink and smart antennas at the base station has to
overcome these constraints.

The WiMAX system relies on a new radio physical (PHY) layer and appropriate
MAC layer to support all demands driven by the target applications.

The PHY layer modulation is based on OFDMA, in combination with a centralized


MAC layer for optimized resource allocation and support of QoS for different types
of services (VoIP, real-time and non real-time services, best effort). The OFDMA
PHY layer is well adapted to the NLOS propagation environment in the 2 - 11 GHz
frequency range. It is inherently robust when it comes to handling the significant
delay spread caused by the typical NLOS reflections. Together with adaptive
modulation, which is applied to each subscriber individually according to the radio
channel capability, OFDMA can provide a high spectral efficiency of about 3 - 4
bit/s/Hz.

However, in contrast to single carrier modulation, the OFDMA signal has an


increased peak: average ratio and increased frequency accuracy requirements.
Therefore, selection of appropriate power amplifiers and frequency recovery concepts
are crucial.

WiMAX provides flexibility in terms of channelization, carrier frequency, and duplex


mode (TDD and FDD) to meet a variety of requirements for available spectrum
resources and targeted services. An important and very challenging function of the
WiMAX system is the support of various advanced antenna techniques, which are
essential to provide high spectral efficiency, capacity, system performance, and
reliability:
• beam forming using smart antennas provides additional gain to bridge long
distances or to increase indoor coverage; it reduces inter-cell interference and
improves frequency reuse,
• transmit diversity and MIMO techniques using multiple antennas take advantage
of multipath reflections to improve reliability and capacity.
System performance

WiMAX Spectrum and Regulation Issues


WiMAX-compliant equipment will be allowed to operate in both licensed and
unlicensed bands. The minimum channel bandwidth for WiMAX usage is 1.75 MHz
per channel, while 10 MHz is considered as an optimum.

Although 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz non-licensed bands are largely available, their usage
could be limited to trials because of the risks of interference preventing QoS
commitments.

The 2.5 and 3.5 GHz licensed bands will be the most common bands for WiMAX
applications. It should be noted that the 5 GHz band is also partially licensed in some
countries.

Most countries have already allocated licensed spectrum, generally to alternate


operators. Nevertheless large quantities of spectrum are still in process of allocation,
and some countries have not even defined any WiMAX licensed bands yet.

WiMAX is designed to accommodate either Frequency Division Duplexing (FDD),


which is more suited to enterprise traffic, or Time Division Duplexing (TDD), which
is more adapted to asymmetrical traffic. Cohabitation of FDD and TDD techniques is
possible within the same bands, provided guard bands are implemented.

Conclusion
The latest developments in the IEEE 802.16 group are driving a broadband wireless
access (r)evolution thanks to a standard with unique technical characteristics. In
parallel, the WiMAX forum, backed by industry leaders, helps the widespread
adoption of broadband wireless access by establishing a brand for the technology.

Initially, WiMAX will bridge the digital divide and thanks to competitive equipment
prices, the scope of WiMAX deployment will broaden to cover markets where the low
POTS penetration, high DSL unbundling costs, or poor copper quality have acted as a
brake on extensive high-speed Internet and voice over broadband.

WiMAX will reach its peak by making Portable Internet a reality. When WiMAX
chipsets are integrated into laptops and other portable devices, it will provide
high-speed data services on the move, extending today's limited coverage of public
WLAN to metropolitan areas. Integrated into new generation networks with seamless
roaming between various accesses, it will enable endusers to enjoy an "Always Best
Connected" experience.

The combination of these capabilities makes WiMAX attractive for a wide diversity
of people: fixed operators, mobile operators and wireless ISPs, but also for many
vertical markets and local authorities.

Alcatel, the worldwide broadband market leader with a market share in excess of
37%, is committed to offer complete support across the entire investment and
operational cycle required for successful deployment of WiMAX services.