RealTime IT News

Fujitsu, Wi-LAN Team for Broadband Wireless

CORRECTED WiMAX, or last mile, wireless broadband access, hasn't been a reality in the eyes of many to date, but that may be about to change.

Fujitsu Microelectonics America (FMA) and broadband wireless provider Wi-LAN announced Friday that they are jointly producing what they hope will become the world's first WiMAX-certified broadband wireless system.

The WiMAX Certified status is operated by the non-profit WiMAX Forum and exists to ensure interoperability and conformance to the IEEE 802.16 standard for fixed wireless broadband metropolitan area networks and ETSI HiperMAN specifications.

Fujitsu and Calgary, Canada's, Wi-LAN are planning on having System-on-Chip (SoC) engineering samples for fall 2004. The completed system would be available for testing in the first half of 2005 by the WiMAX Forum for certification testing.

"The timeline that Wi-LAN and FMA have set for first-to-market WiMAX Certified systems dovetails nicely with the WiMAX Forum's timeline for certification and interoperability testing," said Dr. Sayed-Amr El-Hamamsy, Wi-LAN's president and CEO, in a statement. "In spite of the hype about early equipment availability from other vendors, the fact is that there can be no certified products before WiMAX conformance specifications are established."

The WiMAX conformance specifications are expected to be completed in November 2004.

"We believe Wi-LAN is the only company that has commercially implemented 256 sub-carrier OFDM, which is the physical layer technology supported by the WiMAX Forum," said El-Hamamsy. "This gives us confidence that our early 2005 LIBRA broadband wireless system that incorporates the Wi-LAN/FMA SoC will be the first system to be WiMAX Certified."

Jupiter Research Analyst Julie Ask is somewhat skeptical about the Fujitsu/Wi-LAN claim that they will be first to market with WiMAX.

"How can they know?" Julie Ask said to internetnews.com. "There are lots of big players in this space, including Intel. And by the way, there is no standard that has been ratified, it's a work in progress." (Jupiter Research and internetnews.com are owned by the same parent company.)

"So, if they are betting on the right technology down to the last detail, they could be first. It might also mean they are taking risks, both business and technical, that other companies are not willing to take."

Whatever the case, interest in WiMAX continues to grow in the industry. Earlier this week the WiMAX Forum announced that it has signed up four new telecommunications service providers as members of the forum.

Corrects headline and second paragraph to include reference to Wi-LAN.