WiMax 2 Nearly Finalized, Commercial Deployment Coming in 2012

Paul Lilly

It doesn't matter that major carriers will start introducing LTE in 2011, the WiMax forum is forging ahead with the WiMax 2 standard, which it hopes to have finalized by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) this November.

WiMax 2, or 802.16m as it's otherwise known, will run circles around the original WiMax. The goal, according to WiMax Forum VP Mohammad Shakouri, is for the 802.16m to deliver average downstream speeds of over 100Mb/s. Compare that to Sprint's initial Xohm WiMax service, which debuted in 2008 with downstream speeds between 3.7Mb/s to 5Mb/s.

So where does this leave Clearwire, which recently announced it would begin trying out LTE as a compliment or alternative to its current WiMax network?

"We don't think it would be detrimental if Clearwire decided to run both WiMax and LTE," says Declan Byrne, the marketing director for the WiMax Forum industry group, who was admittedly "surprised" by Clearwire's LTE announcement. "In some ways it might be postive for both WiMax and LTE because it would take some of the sting out of the 'either-or' dynamic that a lot of people have been setting up when talking about the two technologies."

Byrne said he expects the IEEE will begin certifying WiMax 2 devices through 2011, with ISPs deploying the standard commercially throughout 2012.

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