The next release of WiMax is coming, and some industry heavy hitters have lined up to support the backwards-compatible 802.16m standard. The group, calling themselves the WiMAX 2 Collaboration Initiative (WCI), is pushing interoperability in the new protocol, basically hoping to scoot things along a little faster to aid in the 4G arms race against LTE. Noticeably absent from the group? Current WiMax superstars Sprint and Clearwire, who made it clear at this year's CTIA that they'll happily jump ship to LTE if and when it's necessary.

Industry Leaders Announce Initiative to Accelerate Interoperable WiMAX 2 Solutions built upon IEEE 802.16m

Building upon the success of WiMAX Release 1, industry leaders announce the creation of the WiMAX 2 Collaboration Initiative (WCI) to accelerate the WiMAX 2 ecosystem

TAIPEI, Taiwan—(BUSINESS WIRE)—Leading WiMAX silicon suppliers, equipment makers and research organizations have announced a new initiative to accelerate interoperability of the next release of WiMAX technology, WiMAX 2, based upon the IEEE 802.16m standard. 802.16m builds upon 802.16e by adding new capabilities while maintaining backward compatibility. It meets the International Telecommunications Union requirements for 4G or "IMT-Advanced," delivering higher system capacity – peak rates of more than 300 Mbps – lower latency and increased VoIP capacity. The performance gains will enable WiMAX operators to keep up with the explosion in demand for rich, multimedia mobile applications and devices which increasingly require high speed, on-the-go connectivity.

The 802.16m air interface standard definition began in 2006 in the IEEE as a follow-on to 802.16e, and is expected to be completed in the 2nd half of 2010.

As the 4G wireless broadband industry begins to take shape, it is imperative to evolve the industry model to create a better value chain for service providers. With this goal in mind, leading WiMAX vendors Alvarion, Beceem, GCT Semiconductor, Intel, Motorola, Samsung, Sequans, XRONet and ZTE as well as the Taiwanese research organization, ITRI, have launched the WiMAX 2 Collaboration Initiative (WCI). The group will work closely with the WiMAX Forum to accelerate the implementation of interoperable system profiles for WiMAX 2 equipment and devices with the goal of improving the economics of mobile broadband. The objectives of the group include:

* Technology collaboration and joint performance benchmarking;
* Joint testing of 4G applications over WiMAX 2 solutions;
* Early network level interoperability testing;
* Plugfests to prepare for WiMAX Forum certification.

"The Taiwanese device manufacturing ecosystem is already providing all manner of clients today – standalone modems, USB dongles, embedded modules for PCs, mobile Internet devices, handsets and CE devices - for Release 1 of WiMAX," said Dr. Cheng-Wen Wu, General Director of Information & Communications Research Laboratories and VP of ITRI (Industrial Technology Research Institute). "ITRI has demonstrated great dedication to developing WiMAX technology and will strongly support early commercialization of 802.16m."

"UQ is very pleased with the creation of the 802.16m Collaboration Group. UQ believes WCI will contribute to accelerate build up of the 802.16m ecosystem. UQ has a strong intention to upgrade its network to 802.16m to provide an even higher level of mobile broadband services to our customers," said Dr. Fumio Watanabe, CTO of UQ Communications, Inc."

The WiMAX industry is seeing a non-linear shift in mobile broadband usage models – similar in magnitude to that experienced when people went from dial-up to broadband. Consumers on some WiMAX networks are consuming 7-10 GB of data per month. WiMAX 1 ushered in a new, open model for high speed, wireless Internet and WiMAX 2 will keep pushing the envelope to help operators keep up with insatiable demand.

"The wireless industry is convinced that the growing volume of data consumers are eating up is a bad thing," said Mike Sievert, Chief Commercial Officer, Clearwire. "But for us, our spectrum position gives us tremendous capacity and the ability to meet the explosive demand for mobile broadband. Today our CLEAR mobile customers are using an average of more than 7GB of data per month on our network. And while other companies are considering how to curtail usage, we simply say to our customers, here's the Internet: the world in the palm of your hand – enjoy it."

"These improvements are a great forward step for the WiMAX community in meeting the capacity demands of 4G customers all over the world," said Iyad Tarazi, Vice President of Network Development at Sprint.

The group will issue detailed milestones and delivery schedules within the next 3-6 months with the goal to support the WiMAX Forum's readiness to certify commercial products by late 2011. The group includes the top suppliers of WiMAX silicon and equipment, providing solutions to more than one hundred Mobile WiMAX operators worldwide.

[BusinessWire]