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WiMax Forum certifies first batch of gear

802.16-2004 standard gets on track

The WiMax Forum reached a long-awaited goal yesterday, putting its first four seals of approval on a batch of products that use the new wireless broadband technology.

The products include base stations, a base station reference design and a customer equipment reference design for fixed WiMax. This initial form of the technology, based on the IEEE 802.16-2004 standard, is designed as a wireless alternative to broadband services such as DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) and cable modem for homes and businesses. It should deliver at least 1Mbps (megabits per second) of throughput to each subscriber. Another version of WiMax, currently envisioned for certifications by the end of this year will ultimately allow mobile use.

The first certifications come after a long period of WiMax hype and missed predictions on when approvals would begin. In November, a last-minute set of clarifications to the 802.16-2004 standards pushed product testing past the group's end-of-year prediction for certification, but the Forum met a forecast made earlier this month that it would announce the first approvals at the WCA (Wireless Communications Association) International Symposium & Business Expo, in San Jose, California.

The Forum certified that four products conform to the IEEE 802.16-2004 and European Telecommunications Standards Institute HiperMAN standards and are interoperable with each other. It certified Aperto Networks' PacketMax 5000 base station, Redline Communications' RedMax AN-100U base station, Sequans Communications' SQN2010 base station reference design and Wavesat's miniMax customer premise equipment reference design. The Aperto and Redline products are complete systems for sale to service providers, and the Sequans and Wavesat reference designs are sample systems based on those silicon vendors chipsets for sale to system manufacturers.

All the products approved Thursday use radio spectrum in the 3.5GHz band, which today is available for use by carriers in many countries, though not in the US. In later test rounds, the Forum may approve products for use with spectrum in the 2.5GHz band that is available in the US and other countries.

Manufacturers have reserved testing slots for 26 other base station and subscriber products in the first wave of WiMax Forum testing, which covers fundamental standards conformance and interoperability. Additional capabilities, including security and quality-of-service features, will be tested in future waves.

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