June 08, 2005, 10:18 AM — Broadband wireless is blowing into Supercomm in Chicago this week just as certification tests are about to begin based on the WiMax fixed-wireless specification.
Redline Communications Inc. demonstrated the equipment it plans to submit for WiMax Forum testing next month, while Aperto Networks Inc. introduced its WiMax line and one major carrier laid out plans for fixed wireless deployments later this year.
Testing is set to begin next month for certification of fixed WiMax systems that are based on the IEEE 802.16-2004 standard. That standard is designed for services similar to DSL (digital subscriber line) or cable, as well as for connecting Wi-Fi hot spots to the main carrier line. The networks could send voice, video and data over several miles to client devices in fixed locations such as homes and offices.
Redline is demonstrating the gear it will submit for WiMax interoperability testing next month, including client equipment based on Intel Corp.'s Pro/Wireless 5116 chip and base stations built around Redline's own silicon. Redline is sending video from base stations in downtown Chicago to client devices on the show floor at the McCormick Place convention center, said Keith Doucet, vice president of marketing and product line management at Redline. One of the towers is about 4.5 miles (7.2 kilometers) from the convention center and the other is about 1.5 miles away. Both connections are running at about 25M bps (bits per second), Doucet said. An indoor demonstration on the show floor is achieving about the same speed, he said. Commercial WiMax services most likely will be shared among many users who will each have less than 25M bps, he added.
One of the subscriber units being demonstrated is in the booth of IBM Corp.'s IBM Global Services business. That company plans to include WiMax among the networks it sets up for service providers and large enterprises, Doucet said.
Redline set up its base stations at points of presence provided by TowerStream Corp., a national wireless service provider, and is using an experimental 3.5GHz license that TowerStream holds in Chicago. The first WiMax gear to be tested will be equipment that uses the 3.5GHz band, which is available for WiMax use in many countries but not yet in the U.S.
Aperto introduced its PacketMax line, which includes three different sizes of base stations, a business-class and a consumer-class subscriber station, and an element management system. Aperto will probably charge service providers between US$400 and $600 for each subscriber station, though the providers can offer the products to subscribers free or at a reduced cost, said Alan Menezes, vice president of marketing at Aperto, in Milpitas, California. The company expects to make commercial shipments of WiMax-certified gear for 3.5GHz services in the fourth quarter.