WiMax Making Strides

WiMax Making Strides

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Written By Eric Sandler

802.16a has been all hype so far, but several recent announcements suggest that products are indeed on their way.

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WiMax, or 802.16a, has been touted for its potential to make broadband wireless more affordable and easier to deploy, but so far there are no products available using the standard. Behind the scenes, though, there has been a flurry of recent activity focused on bringing the technology to market.

For its part, Calgary, Alberta-based Wi-LAN said that it would produce and license semiconductor intellectual property (SIP) cores incorporating the physical layer (PHY) of the 802.16a standard. The standard, which was ratified in January, provides a wireless alternative to cable and DSL without requiring a direct line of sight to a base station.

Wi-LAN will co-develop the cores with an unnamed SIP supplier, and then license them to semiconductor makers such as Intel and Fujitsu.

The SIP cores lower the barrier to entry for semiconductor companies, said Dr. Sayed-Amr El-Hamamsy, president and COO of Wi-LAN. “A company that decides to do an OFDM ASIC … will now be able to jump in with low risk,” he said. “They can take the core, which contains Wi-LAN’s know-how of how to make this thing work, and then just implement it into an ASIC.”

The cores should be ready in about six months, he said.

Wi-LAN also has an agreement with Fujitsu to develop an 802.16a SoC (system-on-chip) that it will build into its Libra product series. Fujitsu will market the chipset to other companies as well.

Meanwhile, Montreal-based semiconductor company Wavesat Wireless this week unveiled an 802.16a-compliant chip. Wavesat said its chip, the DM216, is now available, along with an evaluation kit.

Yet another Canadian company, Redline Communications of Markham, Ontario, has announced what may be the first 802.16a-compliant system to hit the market. The company’s AN-100 system operates in the 3.5GHz band that has been licensed for fixed wireless access in Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

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