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WiMAX chip providers gearing up for 700MHz band

Posted: 13 Aug 2007     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:WiMAX  Ultra Mobile Broadband  700MHz band 

Intel Capital disclosed that WiMAX proponents are gearing up to push for new networks in the spectrum at 700MHz bands.

At least two unannounced companies Intel Capital has invested in plan chips, devices or network products for WiMax at 700MHz, said Sriram Viswanathan, a VP of Intel Capital who runs Intel's overall WiMAX program and helped lobby the Federal Communications Commission about its 700MHz ruling.

In the end, carriers who win the spectrum will choose a technology based on the lowest dollar per bit per Hertz. That's an area where WiMax competes with alternatives such as Ultra Mobile Broadband (UMB) and Long Term Evolution (LTE), Viswanathan said. In addition, UMB and LTE are based on intellectual property fairly closely held by a few companies such as Ericsson, Nokia and Qualcomm, he added.

"WiMAX is built on a fairly broadly held patent portfolio," he said.

WiMAX does not have a defined profile for 700MHz yet, but Intel and others said that work will get done.

"All the current WiMax chip providers will be in the [700MHz] market, and those who don't have the luxury of their own RF transceivers will like to join with companies that do have the RF, like Freescale, TI and Maxim," said Will Strauss, principal of market watcher Forward Concepts.

"Many [WiMAX] chip companies including Fujitsu are reviewing their internal development programs to determine how to best align their chip strategies and implementation plans with this expanded spectrum opportunity," said George Wu, director of the wireless group at Fujitsu Microelectronics, a WiMAX chip vendor. "We have received wish list comments from some of our customers about the 700MHz band and are reviewing their requests while keeping a close watch of the open access policy development," he added.

TI announced this spring it is supplying WiMAX chips to Motorola, which will supply systems for a WiMAX network Sprint will deploy in early 2008. However, the company would not reveal details of those chips or say whether TI has any plans to support 700MHz for any of the other technologies.

Meanwhile, Qualcomm officials note WiMAX currently supports time division multiplexing (TDD) rather than frequency division multiplexing used in most cellular technologies. TDD can cause actual throughput to fall off dramatically at the edge of a cell site.

Viswanathan said both the IEEE and the WiMax Forum are developing FDD standards for WiMAX, although they will not be completed until late next year at the earliest. Intel began sampling prototypes of its Echo Peak chipset, a module that supports both 802.11n and WiMAX. The module will be part of Intel's Montevina notebook platform that ships in late 2008.

- Rick Merritt
EE Times

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