WiMAX 802.16m: 1Gbps

The IEEE has started working on a new version of the 802.16 standard that could push data transfer speeds up to 1 Gbit/s.

The IEEE has started working on a new version of the 802.16 standard that could push data transfer speeds up to 1 Gbit/s while maintaining backwards compatibility with existing WiMax radios, reports Unstrung. Dubbed 802.16m, at the IEEE’s January session in London, the group hopes to complete the new spec by the end of 2009.

The IEEE says it wants to develop a “competitive” and “significantly improved” radio access technology that is “compliant with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) R/IMT advanced requirements for 4G” while maintaining interoperability with mobile WiMax.
This will mean up to 1-Gbit/s fixed and 100-Mbit/s data transfer rates and “improved broadcast and multicast and VOIP performance and capacity.”

The muscle behind 802.16m will be multiple-input/multiple-output (MIMO) antenna technology on top of an OFDM-based radio system just like the upcoming “Wave 2″ mobile WiMax products being plotted by several silicon vendors. The Wave 2 profile is expected to achieve mobile speeds of around 5 Mbit/s by using a two-by-two antenna array. 802.16m could up those speeds, in part, by using larger antenna arrays.

Current 802.16m specifications (pdf) include:

  • Very low rate Data: = 16 kbps
  • Low rate Data & Low Multimedia: = 144 kbps
  • Medium multimedia: = 2 Mbps
  • High multimedia: = 30 Mbps
  • Super high multimedia: 30 Mbps ~ 100 Mbps / 1 Gbps

Siemens has a MIMO testbed for 1 Gbits per/sec wireless. They used an RF channel with 100 MHz bandwidth, with 82 MHz occupied by the OFDM signal. The maximum data rate of 1 GBPS is achieved with 64 QAM modulation on all subcarriers.

Insiders suggest that the latest work on the 802.16 and WiMax technologies is increasingly being driven by the wants and desires of carriers plotting next-generation mobile networks that will combine VOIP services with a hefty dose of whiz-bang multimedia services — such as IPTV, streaming video, and fast music downloads.

Some worry that carriers have unrealistic expectations on how fast new WiMax profiles and interfaces can be developed. “They just walk in, snap their fingers, and expect it to happen,” one industry source told us on the show floor yesterday.

The Project Planning Committee is being led by Brian Kiernan. Further discussion of comment preparation was deferred to the Project Planning Committee.

Meanwhile AT&T, which just sold its 2.5 GHz spectrum to Clearwire for $300M, has been pushing the WiMAX Forum to start work on a so-called “wave three” mobile WiMax profile. AT&T wants a mandated “four-by-four” smart antenna array to increase the speed and capacity, perhaps for mobile tv. By contrast, upcoming “Wave 2″ WiMax products use a two-by-two antenna setup, says Unstrung.

A Mobile PlugFest was held last week in Malaga, Spain. It provided an opportunity to test Mobile WiMAX interoperability between some 35 companies prior to the official WiMAX Forum certification process, scheduled for mid-year.

Cellular operators are plotting the next stage for 3G, referred to as 3G Plus or, incorrectly, as 4G, but the standards setters at the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) have dubbed it Long-Term Evolution (LTE), reports EE Times.

LTE also pushes mobile broadband to a theoretical 100 Mbits/second for downlink and 50 Mbits/s for uplink–well beyond what HSPA (the combination of HSDPA and its uplink counterpart, HSUPA) will be able to offer in a year or so.

Cellular’s LTE deployment is expected between late 2009 and 2011, the same time frame as the newly proposed 802.16m Mobile WiMAX standard. LTE may “once and for all, draw the line” between the evolutionary path of the existing network infrastructure and the WiMax-based mobile broadband promoted by new entrants. Or maybe not.

WiMAX Trends reports that delegates at the ITU Working Party 8F meeting in Cameroon last week agreed that it is very likely that WiMAX – or rather, the IP-OFDMA technology underpinning 802.16e – will be adopted as an IMT-2000 standard at the World Radio Conference in October. The decision process for WiMAX is now on a fast track.

IMT-2000 systems are those recognized by the ITU as globally recognized 3G technologies for use in IMT-identified bands – currently, these are W-CDMACDMA2000TD-CDMATD-SCDMA, and EDGE. The fact that WiMAX is not yet on this list means that 3G operators can argue that it should be excluded from 3G spectrum such as 2.5GHz.

To achieve recognition in October, WiMAX will need to have full support at the next meeting of the ITU 8F group in Kyoto, Japan in May, says WiMAX Trends.

Written by: Luke Pensworth

Luke is the managing editor and site manager of Dailywireless. As a wireless enthusiast/consumer, he reviews a lot of services based on his own experience. Disgruntled as he may be, he tries to keep his articles as honest as possible.

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