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WiMAX’s role in IMS, FMC, MANs, and 3G

May 18, 2006 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

WiMAX and WiFi mesh networking, IMS (Internet multimedia services/subsystems), FMC (fixed-mobile convergence), and real-world MANs (metropolitan area networks) are among the topics discussed by Peter Jarich, principal analyst of wireless infrastructure for market research firm Current Analysis, in an in-depth, moderated Q&A published by Wireless Week.

Jarich expects 802.16e, aka “mobile WiMAX,” to win out over the earlier 802.16d variety, due to the compelling advantages of mobile, and the ability of 802.16e technology to serve in fixed-location capacities. However, WiMAX will not be ready to compete with 3G in terms of mobility for some time, despite expectations that it could be a disruptive technology for carriers.

Nor will WiMAX be able to meet consumer FMC expectations, such as seamless handoff, at least not right away. This is in part because carriers will not have adequate access to the licensed frequencies initially allocated for WiMAX. Licenses are allocated in order to ensure multi-operator opportunities.

On the other hand, some operators may choose to deploy WiMAX-like OFDM (orthogonal frequency division multiplexing) radio networks lower in the radio spectrum, where they do have licenses, Jarich suggests.

Jarich refrains from guessing whether Qualcomm's efforts to collect royalties for OFDM technology used in WiMAX will bear fruit; however, he suggests that technically, Qualcomm's IPR (intellectual property rights) may not be foundational to WiMAX at the lowest level, and hence could in theory be worked around. Meanwhile, analyst firm ABI Research issued a report today, as part of its new Mobile Broadband Research Service, advising WiMAX operators to build Qualcomm royalties into their business plans.

As for WiFi, WiMAX will not replace it, but instead will augment it, for example in backhaul applications, Jarich believes. Jarich appears to be highly skeptical of MANs such as that being built by Earthlink in Philadelphia — he expects dialup-like speeds due to interference, and spotty coverage, especially indoors. No amount of homework will enable planners to avoid such problems, he suggests.

The complete interview can be found here.

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