WiMAX forum expands roadmap, harmonization; Intel gets broadband patent

Even as some broadband and wireless connectivity groups are working to cooperate together and open access, big IT has won yet another patent, potentially limiting development. This week at the 4G World Conference & Exposition, the WiMAX Forum® announced an updated industry roadmap supporting the continued evolution of the WiMAX ecosystem. The organization said in its announcement that it is embracing a network evolution path to accommodate harmonization and coexistence across multiple broadband wireless access technologies within a WiMAX Advanced network. Today, Intel, the global technology company announced that it has won a new patent effecting broadband allocation.

The WiMAX Forum is extending its roadmap, WiMAX Advanced, which leverages WiMAX’s all-IP broadband data network capabilities to enable WiMAX operators to access a broader ecosystem of devices and radio access technologies to more easily operate within a multi radio access network environment. WiMAX stands for Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access, and is a wireless technology standard that provides up to 1gbps internet and communications connectivity. WiMAX can be used as an alternative to cable or DSL in areas where those access types are not available for last-mile or in-home access.

WiMAX is also used for portable internet access, smart grid technology, VoIP voice calls (think Vonage) and IPTV (think your cable provider’s triple play bundle without the boxes). WiMAX was considered as a potential replacement technology for the CDMA and GSM services people got on their cellphones, although LTE has been taking more of that market. The harmonization standards outlined in this roadmap will allow for interoperability between standard WiMAX technologies as they exist now, and LTE Advanced services as well as WiMAX advanced services.

Many WiMAX providers had already been investing in and offering these solutions, all of which may help solve broadband access issues in rural and less densely populated areas of the US. WiMAX Release 2.0 is the first generation of WiMAX Advanced. The forum has said WiMAX Release 2.0 certification profiles should be wrapped up at the end of 2013’s first quarter.

“As the creator of the world’s first dual 4G WiMAX + LTE single-chip solution, Sequans applauds the WiMAX Forum’s WiMAX Advanced initiative,” said Georges Karam, President & CEO of Sequans Communications.

Even while the WiMAX Forum was opening its technological standards to add more to its ecosystem, Intel announced that it has received a patent concerning broadband bandwith allocation. According to the patent, Intel can now press for infringement on methods used to determine “a total number of allowable continuous logical resource unit (LRU) allocations for a bandwidth, removing allowable allocations to generate a set of allocations that can be indexed with fewer bits than the total number of allowable allocations, and storing an index of the set of allocations in a memory.”

Essentially, broadband resource planning and storing of that information may now fall under the company’s purview regardless of existing vendor relationships. Patent wars are an old story in IT, although the impact in this area is sort of like staking out claims on water delivery systems, broadband provides critical infrastructure support at all levels of society and many have called for it to be considered a public utility, if not a human right – making the growing presence of patents in this area troubling.

CivSource has long been covering the growing divide between companies who wish to support the growth of this infrastructure and those that do not and we will continue to do so as the ranks of those who are adding hurdles to broadband growth in the US unfortunately grow. “WiMAX has always stood for innovation, open standards and low IPR costs,” stated Dr. Mohammad Shakouri, Chairman of the WiMAX Forum. “Our focus is to preserve these fundamental values of the WiMAX Forum and continue to build a powerful and broad ecosystem that addresses the needs of operators and customers worldwide.”