In what is likely a move to stave off the growing threat of TD-LTE, the WiMAX Forum said it has launched a global initiative to accelerate advanced WiMAX features to the current release by more than 50 percent while remaining compliant with the 802.16e standard. That means the technology will have the potential to double peak data rates and increase average and cell edge end user performance by 50 percent, with certified products coming to market in late 2010, the forum said.
The forum also reassured that this initiative won't delay the development of WiMAX Release 2, otherwise known as the 802.16m standard. It is expected to be completed in the second half of this year, with device certification coming in late 2011.
The WiMAX Forum cited unprecedented growth in mobile broadband services as a reason for the fast-tracking of the enhanced features. Clearwire recently reported that mobile users average more than 7 GB of usage per month. In Russia, mobile WiMAX operator Yota sees more than 1 GB per month data traffic from subscribers using their HTC smartphone. For laptops, this figure is 13 GB per month.
"WiMAX operators are providing an unprecedented amount of data, with some networks delivering over 10 gigabytes per month to the average user," the forum said in a release. "Even without dramatic growth in average customer demand, successful expansion of the customer base can threaten network overload. The WiMAX Forum has recognized operator needs for more advanced technologies to future-proof their networks in the face of these inexorable trends."
The forum also made a plug for WiMAX in India, where the auction of mobile broadband licenses are expected to commence shortly. Qualcomm is looking to win a license and push TD-LTE instead of WiMAX, while Ericsson has been trying to build the case for LTE as well. It was thought that WiMAX would be a shoo-in in India but consistent delays of the auctions over a span of years seems to have bolstered the case for LTE there.
"There is no country where this demand is as pronounced as it is in India, where there is less than three percent broadband penetration. WiMAX can address this demand as well as the growing needs around the globe, plus we're committed to taking performance to the next level in an unmatched time frame," said Ron Resnick, president and chairman of the WiMAX Forum.
Enhancements under development include support for additional MIMO antennae on the base stations (4 transmit antennae instead of 2), higher order (64 QAM) modulation on the uplink, downlink beamforming and improved fractional frequency reuse (FFR) to increase performance in reuse 1 deployments while ensuring multi-vendor interoperability.
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