Wimax Forum speeds up device approval

The Wimax sector is pushing back against LTE with new initiatives to streamline device approval and enhance mobile Wimax.
The Wimax Forum unveiled a new program yesterday that it says will reduce operator testing costs, ensure interoperability and accelerate time-to-market for new devices.
The initiative will create a database of new certified Wimax products that operators can activate and manage over the air, said forum president Ron Resnick.
“A user can buy a device and open the connection manager that shows all available Wimax operators. The operator they select can then reference back to the database to recognize that device and its features and decide whether to accept the device or not,” Resnick said. “Once they accept the device, the user has the option buy a one-day pass, a one-week pass and so on.”
Resnick says the initiative will make it easier for retailers to sell new devices without having to wait for Wimax operators to test and approve them ahead of time.
The Wimax Forum has certified over 130 devices, the majority of them USB dongles, with embedded laptops and netbooks the next largest category.
Resnick said that forum’s certification will start testing under the program next month.
The forum last week said it would accelerate advanced 802.16e features that will enhance the average performance of current Release 1 technology, to include 4 x 2 MIMO antennas, faster uplink speeds via 64 QAM modulation, downlink beamforming, and improved fractional frequency reuse (FFR) to increase performance in reuse 1 deployments.
Resnick said the features were being brought to market now to accommodate subscriber and traffic growth on Wimax networks.
The forum also said it was accelerating its timetable for 802.16m (a.k.a. Wimax 2, the Wimax equivalent of LTE-Advanced) for similar reasons, with commercial products now set to be available by the end of 2011.
However, the 16e and 16m acceleration plan also appears to be a pre-emptive strike against Qualcomm’s plan to bid on BWA spectrum in India on behalf of TD-LTE.
The forum is aiming to emphasize the fact that Wimax has at least a two-year head start on commercial gear and intends to maintain that advantage via the new enhancements, Rethink Research analyst Caroline Gabriel said in a research note