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WiMAX deployments pass the 300 mark

In his keynote presentation at the inaugural WiMAX Forum Global Congress this week, Ron Resnick, president and chairman of the WiMAX Forum, announced that the number of WiMAX deployments around the world now stands at 305 in 118 countries.

It’s a significant jump from the 260 WiMAX deployments in 110 countries, which was announced by the WiMAX Forum at its Congress Asia event held in Singapore little more than two months ago.

“WiMAX is here today and the number of deployments keeps on growing,” Resnick said on the eve of the Global Congress. “This is the year that WiMAX product shipments really take off. It reflects the growing recognition by operators that the WiMAX business model is viable.”

Key to Mobile WiMAX progress is product certification. The first batch of WiMAX Forum Certified Mobile WiMAX products, in the 2.3GHz frequency band and at Wave 1, was announced at Congress Asia.

The WiMAX Forum will be making an announcement at its press conference later today-16.30 in the RAI Exhibition and Conference Centre-on the latest developments surrounding its Mobile WiMAX certification programme.

Resnick adds that he expects to have over a 100 certified Mobile WiMAX products by the end of this year.

“Through studies done by the WiMAX Forum, we have found there are around 480 Mobile WiMAX products under development from vendors all around the world,” he says. “The WiMAX Forum will be publishing this week which suppliers are producing these products.”

To scale up capacity for Mobile WiMAX product certification, the WiMAX Forum intends to open two new testing labs this year-one in India and one in Japan-as well as another in Brazil in 2009. This will add to its six testing labs currently active in the US, Spain, China, Korea and two labs in Taiwan.

At a standards level, the pace of progress is also increasing. Last month, the WiMAX Forum’s board of directors approved a proposal-following a period of consultation with the IEEE-to enhance the performance of the 802.16e interface. This will be submitted to the ITU-R Working Party 5D meeting later this month.

The intention is to evolve the WiMAX OFDMA TDD standard, which was accepted into the IMT-2000 family of 3G standards in October 2007.

Significantly, the submission to the ITU Working Party will include an FDD option. That should increase the attraction of WiMAX to cellular operators, since the majority of them already have FDD spectrum.

In parallel with OFDMA TDD enhancement, the WiMAX Forum-says Resnick-is “actively involved” in working with the IEEE in developing a Release 2.0 of Mobile WiMAX, or 802.16m, which fulfils the ITU criteria for IMT Advanced (4G) networks.

The WMAX Forum predicts there will be 133 million WiMAX users by 2012. “Analysts are saying that LTE will only have around 20 million subscribers by that time [2012], so we have a clear lead,” says Resnick. “And trade shows like the Global Congress will speed up WiMAX deployment announcements further. It’s going to be a place to bring equipment vendors, operators and application developers together to take care of business.”

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