ADC shakes up WiMAX, LTE IPR game

We haven't heard much lately about the IPR issues surrounding LTE and WiMAX, but a new report from analyst firm Maravedis should shake things up a bit. The firm has recognized that ADC has some pretty important OFDMA patents. In fact, they are a foundation to LTE and WiMAX.

Robert Syputa, a regular contributor to FierceBroadbandWireless, points out that the prevailing notion surrounding IPR pertaining to the next generation of networks is that essential patents come from leading wireless companies such as Motorola, Qualcomm and Nortel. He said that work done outside of the wireless industry is considered less important because it has not dealt with the unique attributes of wireless. But he notes that it is possible for patents to be so fundamental that they can be applied to multiple standards, regardless of whether the patent holder has been involved in the standards process.

That is the case with ADC, which is best-known in the wireless industry for its in-building wireless solutions. In the early 1990s, ADC launched an R&D effort to break into the broadband data transport market. Spending some $250 million, ADC engineers invented and brought to market synchronized OFDMA and built and deployed more than 100,000 OFDMA modems. ADC said the U.S. Patent Office has issued more than 40 patents based on ADC's work, with dozens of additional applications pending. 

ADC said it will seek licensing deals on a fair and reasonable basis, and it is working to increase the industry's awareness of its contributions. The industry's reaction to ADC should be interesting. Will ADC be challenged since ADC's work wasn't wireless focused to begin with?  And what other players will come out of the woodwork? OFDM itself has a particularly long history and has been developed for a number of industries, including television, DSL, fiber optics and cable. The IPR issues surrounding LTE and WiMAX may have become exponentially more complicated.--Lynnette