Feature Articles

IDF Spring 2006 - Merom, WiMAX, UMPC and Viiv

IDF Spring 2006 - Merom, WiMAX, UMPC and Viiv



On Wireless and WiMAX

On Wireless and WiMAX

You saw the ultimate mobile platform drive into IDF Spring 2005 on a customized Chrysler 300. Now get ready for the next generation mobile platform to ride into IDF Spring 2006. Sean Maloney showed what would potentially be the future of wireless mobility with the first ever mobile WiMAX demonstration in the US. A WiMAX decked out scooter was rode onto the stage that showed not only live WiMAX video streaming from a forward attached webcam, but also internet directions and mapping, media and live video blogging. Most importantly was that the demo was done with a 2Mbps WiMAX connection. Consumer WiMAX technology, when they are launched is expected to have much higher bandwidth capabilities (though we are sure ISPs will have their way in making consumers pay for them).

We managed to catch a roundtable with Intel to talk a little bit more on WiMAX 802.16 updates and it seems Intel's WiMAX initiatives are progressing really well, from working with standards bodies, worldwide service providers and governments into clearing up frequency bandwidth and even announcing the world's first multi-band radio chip that is both WiFi and WiMAX capable. Intel will also have the first WiMAX PC cards available by H2 2006. As WiFi has around a 90% penetration rate on notebooks, adding WiMAX capabilities onto WiFi is the best choice and there isn't much overhead in performance. In tests performed by Intel, both WiFi and WiMAX would pretty much perform similarly in terms of power usage and battery levels on VoIP calls. We were told that the timeframe for WiMAX capability integration into notebooks would be around 2008.

Since Intel will be working along licensed spectrums, WiMAX around the world is currently divided into three geographical implementations. Asia will operate at the 2.3GHz / 2.5GHz bands, US will be on the 2.5GHz band and Europe looking at the 3.3GHz to 3.8GHz bands. WiMAX will see first light in Asia with South Korean operator KT already having their WiBro services launched in November last year. WiMAX services in Japan and Taiwan are steadily moving along and Singapore on the brink of launching commercial WiMAX services this year. The US will have a slightly delayed launch, but will come with advanced features like MIMO and RF beamforming on day one.

Another interesting feature that Intel announced is their work to get SIM in notebooks for heterogeneous wireless authentication across 3G, WiFi and WiMAX networks. This is the same technology we've reported on a few days ago called Seamless Access.