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Intel Moots Next Generation WiMAX 2 Wireless Broadband Technology

Posted: 13th Apr, 2010 By: MarkJ
mobile broadband logoIntel and Samsung have officially begun working together to develop the next generation of WiMAX (IEEE 802.16 - Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) wide area high-speed networking technology - WiMAX Release 2 (802.16m). The standard would be backwards compatible with WiMAX and could deliver peak download speeds of up to 300Mbps (maybe even 1Gbps).

Presently there are two forms of WiMAX - "Fixed WiMAX" (802.16d) for faster Wi-Fi Hotspot / Wi-Fi ISP style network replacement and "Mobile WiMAX" (802.16e) for use as a 3G replacement by mobile phone operators. Mobile WiMAX can deliver download speeds of up to 144Mbps (35Mbps uploads), though in a real-world environment you wouldn't expect more than 30Mbps.

However we're unlikely to see much of WiMAX in the UK, outside of a few niche deployments in Fixed Wireless ISP environments. Most UK mobile operators and indeed many European ones too have instead opted to deploy the Long Term Evolution (LTE) standard as their pathway from existing 14Mbps HSPA based 3G Mobile Broadband technology to a 4G future.

Mobile operator O2 UK revealed at the end of last year that it had achieved a peak cell download speed of 150Mbps (Megabits per second) during a trial of LTE in the Slough area (here), though future 4G generations of LTE could hit 1Gbps. Initial forms of LTE are more likely to hit up to 340Mbps, though real-world consumers should not expect such performance in heavily shared environments.

In reality, regardless of whether an operator adopts LTE or Mobile WiMAX technology, most end-users are only likely to see speeds of up to around 8-30Mbps (personally we expect far less). Even existing HSPA based Mobile Broadband services, which can technically do up to 14.4Mbps, usually average out around 1-2Mbps. Many operators have capacity limits that cannot be completely overcome by just installing a new technology.
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