Although the WiMax industry has kept a lid on FDD WiMax, “that cat is now truly out of the bag and is now frolicking amongst the pigeons,” says Dean Bubley of Disruptive Analysis. “I’d had some hints about this before, but I’d thought the main aim was to get WiMax working in paired-spectrum 700MHz bands in the upcoming U.S. auction.”
The WiMax Forum is making a profile for mobile WiMax that uses “paired” FDD (frequency division duplex) signalling, with separate channels for uplink and downlink. Telcos and regulators such as the ITU prefer FDD, and most of the spectrum for 3G and 4G networks requires it. WiMax standards and equipment have focussed on TDD (time division duplex), in which uplink and downlink signals have separate time slots on a single channel - but which is limited to smaller bands of spectrum.
The ITU endorsed WiMax for 2.6GHz spectrum in May 2007, but operators have expected to limit its deployment to a smaller part of this spectrum which would be designated for TDD technologies: 50MHz in the middle of the band, sandwiched between two paired 70MHz chunks for FDD.
FDD WiMax could well be pitched head-on against HSPA, EVDO, LTE and other 3G technologies in the 2.5-2.6 Ghz band, according to Bubley. But he wonders if that means that Ofcom and other regulators need to go back to the drawing boards and re-work their interference assumptions for a possible cellular/WiMax mix across the whole band.
- New WiMAX spectrum has been licensed in Japan and New Zealand. The KDDI-led consortium Wireless Broadband Planning (WBP) and PHS operator Willcom were awarded the two Japanese 2.5GHz licences, taking 30MHz of spectrum each. WBP also includes among its investors Intel and Kyocera. WBP plans to have its 802.16e network reach nine per cent of the population by March 2009. It is aiming for 55 per cent coverage by March 2010 and 93 per cent coverage by March 2013.
- New Zealand’s December spectrum auctions resulted in Telecom New Zealand and Canada’s Craig Wireless each with 40MHz chunks of 2.5GHz spectrum. Vodafone bought 35MHz while CallPlus acquired 30MHz of the airwaves.
CallPlus has already launched WiMAX in the Auckland area using 3.5GHz spectrum while both Telecom New Zealand and Vodafone New Zealand have been testing WiMAX. Craig Wireless, meanwhile, has now added New Zealand spectrum rights to its recently acquired holdings in Norway and Greece.
In the simultaneous 2.3GHz auction the state-owned telecoms group Kordia walked away with 35MHz of 2.3GHz spectrum and Woosh Wireless also won 35MHz of airwaves. Woosh has announced its intention to migrate its existing wireless broadband services to WiMAX
- Hong Kong’s Office of the Telecommunications Authority said in mid-December that it intended to auction spectrum at 2.3GHz and 2.5GHz in 4Q08. About 150MHz will be reserved for operators at 2.5GHz, with roughly 90MHz of spectrum earmarked for 2.3GHz.
- Thailand’s Bangkok Post reports that the National Telecommunications Commission had granted 12 permits to test WiMAX. The 12 operators included True Move, True Universal Communication, Shin Satellite, Siemens and, perhaps surprisingly, Ericsson.
- Asia is predicted by Informa Telecoms & Media to account for 40 per cent of WiMAX subscribers worldwide in 2012, and there were further signs of WiMAX momentum in the region from Korea and India.
- Korean Mobile WiMAX pioneer Korea Telecom has now officially reported over 100,000 WiBro subscribers while a Samsung executive at CES claimed that WiBro now had 140,000 subscribers. KT plans to expand its WiBro deployments beyond Seoul to some 80 cities in 2008 and is targeting 350,000-400,000 WiBro subscribers by year-end.
It has also teamed up with POSDATA to build a “Mobile WiMAX town” in the city of Pohang, Korea. POSDATA will provide KT with MIMO-enabled mobile WiMAX base stations, ASN-gateways, network management systems, as well as WiMAX terminals. The partners expect to launch commercial services in Q3 2008. Until now, KT has used WiMAX equipment from Samsung and LG.
- Indian telco VSNL, soon to become Tata, will launch WiMAX services in Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad this year. Later, services will be extended to 35 other cities. VSNL is supplied by Telsima, which has been running VSNL’s pilot WiMAX project in Bangalore.