Wavesat’s Shark Attack

This week, Wavesat announced the next offering in its WiMax roadmap, a chipset offering basic mobility and portability for laptops and PDAs. Codenamed Shark, the chip is intended to serve as a bridge between fixed (802.16-2004) and mobile (802.16e) WiMax offerings, with key features including subchannelization for indoor applications and hard handover for portability.

According to the company announcement, additional features of the chipset include:

  • Integrating the entire PHY and MAC

  • Small footprint (11x11mm) and ultra low power consumption (<200 mW)

  • Basic mobility in accordance with the WiMax Forum 802.16e ETG profile

  • Sleep Mode for enhanced power savings

  • PCI core for easy interface to motherboard/application processor

  • Encryption core to offload the application processor

Vijay Dube, Wavesat’s Vice President of Marketing, says the Shark chipset is fully backward-compatible with the company’s DM256 line of fixed WiMax products, offering a clear evolution path from fixed to portable and eventually to mobile WiMax. “We certainly see our current customer base migrating to this as they move more into laptop-type applications, but we also see new customers coming on board as they see this capability being rolled out,” he says.

With the entire WiMax CPE available in a Mini PCI module or a USB dongle, Dube says, the idea is to give users a real sense of flexibility and portability. “As they move from their office environment outside, they just plug in this USB adapter,” he says.

And Dube says it won’t be long before you see the Shark embedded in laptops. “We’ve already had some very strong interest from some leading laptop manufacturers who would like to see this embedded inside the PC itself,” he says. “So we’d see, probably sometime later in 2007, laptops coming out which will have WiMax built in.”

Wavesat says reference designs for the dongles will be available by the end of the year. At WiMax World Europe this week in Vienna, the company will be demonstrating a prototype of the solution. “We’ll have video streaming and some other applications running while you’re moving around with the laptop,” Dube says.

Still, Dube doesn’t see these kinds of solutions supplanting Wi-Fi. “In the home or the corporate environment, you will still see Wi-Fi dominating, but we believe that, additionally, people will have WiMax capability for roaming, for being able to move around within a hotzone,” he says.

The real aim of the Shark offering, Dube says, is to offer a transition stage between fixed and mobile WiMax. “We already have a joint agreement with SK Telecom, the biggest mobile operator in Korea, to develop a full mobility product – we’re calling it our UMobile family of products – but our feeling is that that market is going to happen later,” he says.

In the meantime, Dube says, Shark is the best option available for portability in the market today. “This technology that we’re bringing to the market allows you to get to that now, rather than waiting, say, a couple of years to have this technology on laptops,” he says. “We’re enabling this capability to come into laptop environments much, much earlier.”

Jeff Goldman
Jeff Goldman has been a technology journalist for more than 20 years and a contributor to TechnologyAdvice websites since 1999. He's covered security, networking, storage, mobile technologies and more during his time with TechnologyAdvice.

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