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WiMax standard certification held up

More adjustments required

The standard for fixed WiMax products has not yet been agreed. Initial standards were released in November, but these have not yet been ratified, the WiMax Forum said yesterday.

Tomorrow, the industry group will provide an update on product certification at the Wireless Communications Association International Symposium & Business Expo, said Jeff Orr, the WiMax Forum's director of marketing. Though it's possible some certifications will be announced then, the group can't commit to it, he said.

WiMax is intended to be an interoperable standards-based form of wireless broadband. The first generation of WiMax products are based on IEEE 802.16-2004, which was ratified by the IEEE (the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) in 2004 and defines a system for broadband to a home or office. Products are expected later this year. A later form of WiMax will allow for mobile use.

The WiMax Forum had said last year it expected to certify at least three products as interoperable WiMax gear by the end of 2005. By November, working with the European Telecommunications Standards Institute, it had already defined the tests to be run at Cetecom, a networking test facility in Spain. But a routine package of clarifications to the IEEE standard, called a corrigendum, forced the group to create additional tests and make other changes to the process, Orr said. By the time those changes had been made and the group was ready to start actual certification testing of products, the year had run out. The testing began in the first week of this year.

In December, a WiMax Forum official had said the group hoped to announce the first certifications at this week's WCA conference, but even that may have been overly optimistic.

"At this moment in time, certification of specific products has not been completed, but we see that certification as imminent," Orr said in an interview yesterday.

He defended the time-consuming changes made after the corrigendum was issued, saying they were unavoidable.

"If we had opted not to do it now, we would be doing it in the future," Orr said.

The first wave of certifications will cover only the basic standard, leaving additional features for security and guaranteed quality of service for later tests. Nevertheless, 30 products have been submitted for testing in the first wave, Orr said. When the WiMax Forum announces its first certifications, they won't necessarily include 30 products, he added. Only three products are needed to establish interoperability under the group's rules.


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