IEEE Group Forms New Standard For Wireless Networking

The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers’ Standard Board last
week formally approved IEEE Standard 802.16 (“Air Interface for Fixed
Broadband Wireless Access Systems”) laying the groundwork for what could
turn into widespread deployment of 10 to 66 GHz wireless metropolitan area
networks (MANs) as an economical method of high-speed “last-mile” connection
to public networks.

“The new WirelessMAN standard is a groundbreaking development that
changes the landscape for providers and customers of high-speed networks,”
said Roger Marks, chairman of the 802.16 Working Group on Broadband Wireless
Access.

The 802.16 standard creates a platform on which to build a broadband
wireless industry using high-rate systems that install rapidly without
extensive metropolitan cable infrastructures. It was created in a two-year,
open-consensus process that involved hundreds of engineers from the world’s
leading operators and vendors, the IEEE explained in a press release.

If successful, the standard could be a boon for companies such as Runcom
Technologies Ltd. of Israel, which has been developing proposals for voice
and data transmissions using Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing
(OFDM) as a modulation scheme — the same one used by 802.11 devices.
However, unlike the current 802.11b specification, 802.16 advocates argue
that the higher-quality standard is better suited for interactive TV.

“The standard makes highly efficient use of bandwidth and supports voice,
video and data applications with the quality that customers demand,” Marks
said.

The standard enables interoperability among devices from multiple
manufacturers. It includes a medium access control layer (MAC) that supports
multiple physical layer specifications. The physical layer is optimized for
bands from 10 to 66 GHz. Extensions to the 2 to 11 GHz bands are expected to
be completed next summer in the Working Group’s 802.16a amendment.

The global IEEE 802.16 WirelessMAN air interface standard is the
first broadband wireless access standard from an accredited standards body.
It will be published by January 2002. Until then, the approved draft can be
purchased on the IEEE’s Web site.

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