Leading WiMax silicon suppliers, equipment makers and research organisations have announced a new initiative to accelerate interoperability of the next release of the technology, WiMax 2, based upon the IEEE 802.16m standard.

802.16m builds upon 802.16e by adding new capabilities while maintaining backward compatibility. It meets the International Telecommunications Union requirements for 4G or “IMT-Advanced”, delivering higher system capacity – peak rates of more than 300Mbps – lower latency and increased VOIP capacity.  The performance gains will enable WiMax operators to keep up with the explosion in demand for rich, multimedia mobile applications and devices which increasingly require high speed, on-the-go connectivity.
The 802.16m air interface standard definition began in 2006 in the IEEE as a follow-on to 802.16e, and is expected to be completed in the second half of 2010.
As the 4G wireless broadband industry begins to take shape, it is imperative to evolve the industry model to create a better value chain for service providers.  With this goal in mind, leading WiMax vendors Alvarion, Beceem, GCT Semiconductor, Intel, Motorola, Samsung, Sequans, XRONet and ZTE as well as Taiwanese research organisation ITRI have launched the WiMax 2 Collaboration Initiative (WCI).
The group will work closely with the WiMax Forum to accelerate the implementation of interoperable system profiles for WiMAX 2 equipment and devices with the goal of improving the economics of mobile broadband. The objectives of the group include:
* Technology collaboration and joint performance benchmarking;
* Joint testing of 4G applications over WiMAX 2 solutions;
* Early network level interoperability testing; and
* Plugfests to prepare for WiMax Forum certification.
“Alvarion has been a strong advocate of open standards and interoperable solutions that help foster a complete ecosystem,” says Mohammad Shakouri, corporate vice-president of Innovation and Marketing for Alvarion. “We believe WiMax 2 is a natural evolution of the technology that will allow the operators to strive to seamlessly enhance the performance of their current networks. We look forward to working with the industry leaders to bring the technology early to the market.”
The WiMax industry is seeing a non-linear shift in mobile broadband usage models – similar in magnitude to that experienced when people went from dial-up to broadband. Consumers on some WiMax networks are consuming 7Gb to 10Gb of data per month. WiMax 1 ushered in a new, open model for high speed, wireless Internet and WiMax 2 will keep pushing the envelope to help operators keep up with demand.