4G Blog by 4Ginfo.com

News, info, reviews, and opinions on WiMAX, LTE, Clearwire, XOHM, and Sprint 4G

Friday, August 29, 2008

More WiMAX expansions!

In Russia, provider Enforta announced that they are adding coverage to 13 cities this September, three more than they had initially planned to add - the public's reception to the system in the first 55 cities has been so positive they are expanding even faster than they'd thought.

Greek Hellenic Telecommunications Organization has installed a WiMAX system that spans 50km using 6 base stations in the remote village of Mount Athos. The terrain is very rough and mountainous and it's quite the accomplishment to be able to provide broadband to the isolated residents.

More to come!

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A good majority of this blog has been dedicated to WiMAX, but not because we're forgetting about LTE! There simply hasn't been much to discuss in that arena, largely because it is much further behind WiMAX in terms of projected debut date and how far along they are in their development of the technology.

Today, though, we've got a little LTE update! Nortel and LG Electronics ran successful tests of the network in Ottawa, streaming HD video (good luck trying to do that on with 3G!) over a network consisting of multiple cell sites and sectors served by Nortel's eNodeB LTE base station and ATCA-based Access Gateway. They used an LG device (no elaboration was provided on exactly what the device IS, unfortunately) while traveling in a vehicle going up to 100km/hr (AKA about 62mph for our sorry non-metric country), proving that the service can continue connecting to and transmitting from different cell sites seamlessly as it travels through coverage areas.

This news is very encouraging for the future of LTE, and it's nice to see some concrete evidence about WiMAX's competitor. Nothing advances technology (and hurries companies up!) like competition.

Discuss Nortel's Ottawa tests on 4G Forums

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Some lucky American's (that's YOU, Baltimore!) are just weeks away from being able to access the brand new XOHM network from Sprint/Clearwire, and you've got some exciting features to look forward to.

Sprint released info today describing the "location-based" features XOHM will include. They are promoting the WiMAX service as having a "geobrowsing" effect, meaning you will be able to access directions, traffic, news, restaurants, points of interest, etc all depending on where you're using your device. They're going to partner up with device manufacturers and service providers so that we can all get the most out of the features.

It looks like different cities are going to be featuring different services. For example, NAVTEQ of Chicago, Ill., will offer customers NAVTEQ Traffic™ real-time local traffic and commuter updates with links to the Traffic.com® Web site for construction, incident and drive time information, and Boston's WHERE service will provide access to local information including restaurant reviews, news, events, and weather (including Yelp, Eventful, Topix, NAVTEQ and Accuweather).

I'm unclear right now as to whether XOHM will be offering different services in different areas - for instance, if you'll only be able to access navigation in some cities and Yelp and similar sites in others. I suppose we'll see as Sprint expands their coverage!

Read the full press release at 4Ginfo.com
Discuss the location-based services on 4G Forums

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Just yesterday I was pondering the future prices of WiMAX service, but we have admittedly little information on which to base our speculations. All we have to go on at this point is what the different carriers are charging for service overseas, and pricing information has been difficult to track down. For the second day in a row, though, we're getting a sneak peak into what these carriers think their service is worth.

In stark contrast to the very affordable rates Packet One Networks is charging for their service in Malaysia, news has surfaced today that South Africans will be shelling out a lot more dough to get their hands on high speed broadband. Vodacom and partner iBurst (who one "clever" website referred to as "Vodaskum" and "iBust") are set to launch their WiMAX network in October, with two separate packages available: one aimed at small businesses and the other, a leased line, at corporate customers...

...Rich business customers, that is. The pricing for Vodafone's service is allegedly in the $79 - $109 range! I know some of us used to pay $79.99/month for EVDO back in the early days of 3G, but isn't WiMAX supposed to be "more cost effective?"

P1's affordable service in Malaysia has already attracted thousands of customers - I wonder how many South Africans will be willing to shell out the big bucks?

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

We've heard a lot of hype about how much more cost-effective WiMAX networks are to create than the current 3G offerings, but thus far we haven't heard any news about what the price to consumers will be. The going rate for EVDO service with both Sprint and Verizon currently stands at $59.99 per month with a 5GB limit, a price tag and usage limit many customers have a problem with.

So, will the "cost-effective" WiMAX be more affordable for consumers? Will the providers pass along the savings to us?

Well... we don't know yet. No US company has provided any information on the subject - they might not even have it figured out themselves just yet - but there is one company revealing information on their cost structure. Packet One Networks, who are currently offering their P1 W1MAX service in Malaysia, have announced that they are offering consumers packages based on fixed speeds. In other words, you pay for the speed you need (or want). Customers can choose between connectivity at speeds of 400Kbps, 700Kbps, 1.2Mbps and 2.4Mbps. Prices range between RM69 and RM209 per month - or around $16-$60 US dollars.

I don't think it is likely that a company like Sprint would choose to offer different contracts based on the max speed you'd like to access (isn't the highest speed possible the point of upgrading from 3G to 4G?), but it is reassuring to see that the highest price does not exceed what we are already paying for EVDO.


We mentioned last week that Malaysia was getting equipped with a WiMAX network, and despite the fact that Packet One Network (the provider) is just about a month into the release, it's already proved to be a smashing success.

In a matter of weeks, the WiMAX subscriber base in Malaysia is already up to 6,000 consumers - including many folks whose towns aren't even in WiMAX-serviced areas yet. The population is so hungry for 4G broadband, they are ensuring they will be able to take advantage of the service as soon as P1 is able to expand their coverage area.

The great news about the initial success and clamoring for the service is that it is pushing P1 and other providers to accelerate their roll-out plans - P1 is planning to greatly expand coverage by the end of the year. Of course, for those of us that don't live in the far East, but we can cross our fingers that Sprint et al take notice of the high demand and accelerate their deployment plans as well!

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Attention, Baltimore!

If you live in the rural communities of northern Baltimore, you're in luck: Altius Broadband has created the first 4G network in your area! Altius is using Maryland Public Television's broadcast towers to transmit WiMAX service to the towns of Owings Mills, Reisterstown, Butler and Pikesville, with a radius of 10 to 15 miles.

Though they're based in Phoenix, Altius has been providing traditional home internet service to the region for some time now and decided to roll out their WiMAX network there because of the success they've had with traditional broadband. They are anticipating a subscriber base of 400-600 users to sign up over the next 6th months.

If you don't live in northern Baltimore, there is more WiMAX on the way. Sprint/Clearwire is still promising XOHM in Baltimore and DC later this year.

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Friday, August 22, 2008

LTE service seems a long way off, but it's still ahead of fixed-wired systems when it comes to that coveted 100+ Mbps benchmark. GSMA is projecting that LTE will be deployed and allowing consumers to access speeds of up to 186Mbps (the max speed LTE's been tested to reach) before traditional broadband providers are able to improve their fiber optic cables. As you can imagine, it is very costly and time-consuming to replace an entire network of physical cabling, while creating new wireless networks obviously doesn't require such physical labor and is much more cost-effective. Wired broadband providers have a HUGE job ahead of them as the wireless industry goes 4G - it seems inevitable that wireless service will surpass traditional fixed-wired offerings quickly as 3G gives way to 4G.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

On the heels of the news that Intel was developing very affordable laptops that will offer integrated WiMAX capabilities, Toshiba has revealed that they too have WiMAX-ready laptops on the horizon. Unlike Intel's computers, which will be available only in India to start, Toshiba is planning to have these ready for sale in the USA as soon as September, when Sprint is planning to launch the Xohm network. The laptops will run on Intel's quad-core processors, which will provide the processing power necessary to take full advantage of WiMAX's speeds.

Sales for WiMAX-enabled computers will probably be slow for quite some time as Sprint and other providers slowly roll out their WiMAX networks in more locals, but I'd look at it as a great option if you're upgrading computers and also interested in getting on board with WiMAX as soon as it's available.

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Get excited, 4G enthusiasts: a lucky city in the USA will be accessing the internet with the highest wireless broadband speeds available very soon!

Pipeline Wireless, the broadband service provider in Boston, MA, announced today that they will begin deployment of a WiMAX network in the downtown area, using Redline's RedMAX 4G products. Pipeline will be the first provider to use Redline's services to create a WiMAX network - but probably not the last.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

While USA and European residents are sitting tight, waiting patiently (or not) for providers like Sprint/Clearwire to roll out their WiMAX services in our regions, other countries are already enjoying the benefits of the latest high-speed developments. India and Pakistan have been the "test markets" for quite some time now, but with the help of companies like Motorola WiMAX coverage is beginning to spread throughout Asia - and Australia!

The residents of South Australia's Yorke Peninsula have until now only had access to dial-up and a limited broadband network, but ISP Internode has created a WiMAX network in the region and is even offering the service for FREE to "eligible users" - not sure what qualifies a person/business as "eligbile," but being able to access a high-speed network free of charge is an amazing contribution to the peninsula by Internode.

Similar progress is being made in Asia, albeit not free of charge. Along with provider NEC, a small network of a Thailand hospital and two nearby clinics has been hooked up with WiMAX service. This is a huge boon to the medical industry, as it will allow the hospitals and their associated clinics to communicate wirelessly, participate in video teleconferences, and share important test results via high-speed broadband. Such a networking solution could really change the way their medical care is delivered and the efficiency with which patients can be treated.

Over in China, ZTE Corp, a telecom equipment and cell phone provider, has reached a deal with Columbia's Emcali service to begin building out a WiMAX network, and REDTone (a service provider) is hard at work in eastern Malaysia creating a WiMAX network using Motorola systems. The Malaysia contract marks Motorola's 21st contract in 17 countries, giving them a huge chunk of the market share. I'd expect to see a lot more of them, from installations to modems when the time comes.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

WiMAX is still a ways off from being available to the masses (except in India and Pakistan, that is), but if you're really jazzed on the technology and are willing to go on a world-wide quest to track down some coverage, Berkely Varitonics Systems has just the product for you. The design and consulting firm has created a portable hand-held WiMAX receiver and analyzer called the YellowFin WiMAX Analyzer that allows the user to locate coverage (complete with an internal GPS), check RSSI measurements, see Carrier to Interference Plus Noise Ratios (CINR), and more as it sweeps the 2.0 - 5.9 GHz spectrums - all with accuracy to within +1.5dB. The Samsung Q1 tablet UMPC interface along with the YellowFin Data Logger software offers a data collecting capability that will log and analyze all the network data received by the device. Here's a sampling of some of the features and specifications:

•WiMAX Packet Analysis
•WiMAX Spectrum Analysis
•RF Direction Finding (using optional antenna)
•RF Interference Detection
•Peak Search / Hold with up to 4 Peak Hold waveform traces
•User Selectable Power Triggers
•Waveform Snapshots of any screen

Bands Supported
2.3 - 3.8 GHz
RF Sensitivity (Wide Band)
-20 to -90 dBm
ID Cell & Segment
RSSI (Channel)
-20 to -80 dBm
Correlated Multipath Measurements
0 to -10 dBm
0 to +20 dBm
Bands Supported
2.0 - 5.9 GHz
Average Noise Floor (no input)
< -100 dBm (reference level -70 dBm, resolution bandwidth=50 kHz)
Dynamic Range
> 40 dB
Level Accuracy
+ 1.5 dB (25º C)
Max Input (safe)
+ 0 dB
Max Input (no saturation)
-20 dB
Reference Level
-20 to -70 dBm (10 dB steps)
Display (iPAQ)
see Samsung Q1 specifications
Operating System
Windows® Tablet XP
User Control Auto or Manual
Packet/Interefrence Trigger Trigger analyzer when input power meets or exceeds threshold (20 MHz span)
Trigger Threshold User settable in dBm
Trigger Delay User settable in mS
Internal GPS Receiver 12-channel GPS receiver
Input Connector SMA Female 50 ohm
Power Li-PO, AC, DC
Runtime Internal Battery > 3 hours
Recharge Time <>
Weight 5 lbs.
Dimensions 1.5" H x 7.5" W x 5" L (water resistant, high-impact ABS plastic case)

The YellowFin is intended for engineers, so they can get a full picture of the wireless scope in any area and aid in installation and research, but I'm sure there will be a smattering of curious consumers and businesses interested in how WiMAX is developing. With any luck, we'll be seeing some data collected in this manner sometime soon!

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Monday, August 18, 2008

A couple years ago, as the 3G boom was reaching more consumers every day, several computer manufacturers debuted various laptops that came equipped with an internal EVDO modem. All laptop owners had to do was sign up for EVDO service and they were ready to surf the net sans an external PCMCIA/ExpressCard/USB modem (the only problem is that there is no way to attach an antenna to boost the signal, but let's not get into that at this juncture). Now, with WiMAX allegedly ready to be rolled out in select locations in a matter of months (cross your fingers), at least one company is prepared to apply that same idea, 4G style!

According to Business Standard, Intel is aiming to release WiMAX-ready laptops in India for just $300-$400. Interestingly, it was only very recently that 3G services even became available in the country, but Intel is ready to capitalize on the widespread popularity (6-7 million new subscribers every month!) of wireless technology and offer the faster, more cost-effective WiMAX service ASAP. It is estimated that the market could reach $5 billion over the next 3 years, and Intel's Managing Director for WiMAX division C S Rao is hoping 7-8% of that market share will be WiMAX subscribers.

Besides Intel's laptops, there is no word on other WiMAX devices at the moment - USB modems, etc. It will be interesting to see how the laptops do in the test market and whether they become the popular choice over traditional external modems when the technology finally makes its way to the US.

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Friday, August 15, 2008

LTE technology, the WiMAX competitor and 4G network that carriers such as Verizon, China Mobile, and Vodafone have hitched their wireless star to, isn't expected to be widely available until 2010 at the earliest, but tech research experts are already predicting it to be a huge hit with subscribers. The ABI Research Institute is estimating that 32 million people will be subscribed to LTE service with one of the carriers by 2013 - just a few short years after it becomes commercially available.

The majority of those future subscribers will likely hail from Asia, mainly because they don't currently have much in the way of 3G technology. With their lack of 3G services, it seems to make sense that carriers would opt to forgo all the research, development, and implementation that equipping the area with 3G would entail in favor of waiting just a couple years to get a 4G system rolling. The rest of the 32 million subscribers are expected to be split between North America and Western Europe.

It's interesting that ABI is expressing such lofty confidence in the market share potential of LTE. I'd like to see their thoughts and predictions regarding Sprint's (and others') future WiMAX services and predict the popularity of that side of the technology.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Hungry for more news on all things WiMAX? Make sure to keep your eye out for news on the 5th annual WiMAX World event, a conference that will be taking place from September 30th through October 2nd in Chicago. 150+ exhibitors will be showing off products, developments, and research, and lots of big names in the 4G universe will be there serving as keynote speakers - including representatives from Clearwire, Motorola, Redline, and Sprint's XOHM Network. There will also be several workshops and seminars, such as network deployment. The conference should prove to be very interesting and hopefully we'll find out more information on where carriers are at with their deployment plans and what products we can expect to see hit the market.

A particularly interesting aspect to the conference will be to find out how things are developing in light of the recent reports that WiMAX spending is down across the board this year. The hope, obviously, would be that despite the economic downturn the carriers are still able keep on target with their planned deployment/test dates. The truth, though, is that developing an entirely new sector of technology and accompanying products is not a cheap endeavor, and I would not be surprised if we end up waiting longer for WiMAX than we would like.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Despite all the recent developments in the 4G world - including CTV Infotech's move to using WiMAX over satellite for their wireless triple play product - there are recent reports indicating that overall spending by the carriers has actually dropped over the last quarter.

Netwave is blaming the slowing global economy for the delay in their WiMAX network deployments and they also say that they anticipate the economic downturn will impact sales of their future WiMAX semiconductor products; Airspan also reported a 3% drop in Q2 revenue. For their part, while Alvarion had troubles they remain optimistic about their own future: "Current customers are expanding their networks, bookings are strong, and the pipeline of potential new business is large and growing. This further increases our confidence in our ability to achieve the upper end of our target revenue range of $275 to $300 million for 2008," said CEO and President Tzvika Friedman. It seems like Clearwire is really feeling the crunch though, because of their merger with Sprint: they reported a net loss of $199.1 million for this year, compared with a net loss of $118.1 million this time last year.

What will this mean for the future of WiMAX? Obviously it's going to take a lot of spending to get 4G service available to the public, between research, testing, beta releases, etc. If the economy doesn't pick up and providers are unable to increase their spending, will we see a delay in development?


4G technology continues to pick up speed, with successful WiMAX implementation currently underway in China and Taiwan. WiMAX carrier Proxim has partnered with CTV Infotech, a subsidiary of Chinese Television Company Ltd, to provide them with WiMAX equipment for their wireless "triple play" product. CTV has replaced their old satellite system with the new Proxim equipment to deliver their IPTV and VOIP and provide a solution for real-time news capabilities.

With Proxim's setup, CTV is able to take advantage of the larger bandwidth, higher capacity, and longer range available from WiMAX to increase the amount of programming available to consumers. They've managed to increase the amount of real-time news information as well as the number of locations from which they can gather news. CTV Infotech's customers can access up-to-the-minute video and audio straight from their wireless devices.

Another bonus? The new WiMAX system is much more cost effective than the old satellite setup!


Monday, August 11, 2008

Verizon and Alltel have been working on developing products to utilize the upcoming high-speed data service LTE for quite some time now, and now another carrier has jumped on board the popular LTE train: MetroPCS announced during their 2nd quarter conference call that they too have decided to use LTE for all of its 4G technology plans.

President/CEO/Chairman Roger Lindquist expressed his excitement about his company's plans, saying "...4G represents a great opportunity for us because we see that as capacity expansion, higher data rates imply capacity expansion, not just combining speed and download capability.” During the call, Lindquist also said that he anticipates that we'll be seeing "interesting developments" in the arena as soon as within the next year, though he didn't elaborate on what those developments might be. Beta testing? Unveiling products? We shall see...


Thursday, August 07, 2008

4G technology is on the way, and while most of us tech-heads are excited about the advent of the promised high speeds and new devices, there are some folks that aren't so sure about the timing of the release and the necessity of the rush.

One such skeptic is Andrew Seybold of fiercewireless.com, a site that focuses on everything wireless, from handsets to the latest 4G info. He offers some interesting arguments on the subject, considering whether perhaps carriers should instead be focusing on the advancement of 3G and if LTE will really be able to perform as advertised based on the spectrums on which it operates:

"We are hearing wonderful things about LTE, but the data rates and capacity increases being bandied about are theoretical and based on using 20 MHz of spectrum. One reason the WiMAX community can claim data speed and capacity gains over today's EV-DO Rev A and UMTS/HSPA is due to the amount of bandwidth it uses. EV-DO Rev A occupies only 1.25 MHz of spectrum per carrier and UMTS/HSPA occupies 5 MHz per carrier. The WiMAX community is basing its claims on bandwidths of 8 MHz or more. If you normalize these three technologies in 10 MHz of spectrum, you find they offer about the same data rates and capacity.

Not many network operators have 20 MHz of contiguous spectrum to use for LTE, but LTE can run in any amount of spectrum from 1.25 MHz up to 20 MHz so it will fit almost anywhere. The caveat is that when LTE is used in less than 20 MHz of spectrum, data speeds and capacity are lower than the published specifications and, in most cases, are about the same as the next revisions of UMTS/HSPA+ and EV-DO Rev B."
Andrew's essential point here is that it may be unlikely that carriers will have the necessary capability to operate on the 20 MHz spectrum and that if it is running on a lesser spectrum the promised speeds will simply not be achievable. His feeling is that Verizon, AT&T et al are rushing LTE to compete with Sprint/Clearwire's soon-to-be deployed (in beta form) WiMAX when their time and resources would be better spent continuing to advance 3G technology.

Discuss this subject and all your thoughts on the LTE/4G developments over on 4Gforums.com!


Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Clearwire has made another step towards providing the world with their high-speed 4G internet service, WiMAX by rolling out beta tests in Portland, Oregon with plans to expand to Las Vegas, Grand Rapids, and Atlanta in 2009.

Back on July 2nd, Clearwire leased 3 1-year licenses on the 39 GHz spectrum from IDT Spectrum, the company that owns myriad spectrums across the nation (expect to hear a LOT about them as Clearwire et al buy up spectrums so that their service and equipment actually work!), meaning that they've now got the hardware (mainly provided by Motorola) and necessary spectrum to really get their XOHM tests going.

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Monday, August 04, 2008

We mentioned last week that there is some hoopla surrounding AT&T and the upcoming (hopefully sooner rather than later) WiMAX 4G technology but that it is unlikely that AT&T will be able to effectively put the kibosh on the release of WiMAX - we can probably get ready/excited for the debut by the end of the year.

The release may be a little ways off, but we've got a sneak peek at a couple WiMAX compatible devices for y'all. Most of them were just non-functional prototypes at the time (CTIA), but they are interesting nonetheless. Let's take a gander:

USB and PCMCIA modems. Wait, PCMCIA? Who uses that anymore?

A USB modem compatible with both EVDO Rev-A as well as WiMAX. I anticipate this will be a very popular device, particularly while we wait for WiMAX to become available across the country. Very smart of them. (PS: Look at those promised speeds!)

Two LTE and WiMax compatible routers - and interesting conversation pieces. Who wouldn't want to plug their modem into a mini R2D2?

Are you ready for the commencement of 4G?

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