Evan Kessler


on November 3, 2010   |   1 comment

A recent decision by the International Telecommunication Union to not consider WiMax and LTE valid 4G incarnations has ironically given way to a rash of unjustified 4G quality claims.T-Mobile is the latest in the long line of service providers to proudly boast the next step of Internet quality with an ad campaign that lays claim to “America’s Largest 4G Network.” 

T-Mobile’s proclamation highlights an interesting issue for the likes of CLEAR, Sprint, AT&T, Verizon and other supposed 4G peddlers. While those companies have invested billions of of dollars building out nationwide network, T-Mobile simply slapped a pretty dress on its 3G technology and called it “the sexiest Internet you’ve ever seen.”

So, how can they do that, without the ITU’s approval? Well, they can do that for two reasons: One, because the other companies did it first without living up to true 4G standards; and two, because it’s kinda (and I stress “kinda”) true. Their HSPA+ mobile broadband network has been shown  to be comparable or faster than WiMax and LTE in some instances with “theoretical” download speeds of up to 21mbps.

The claim of “America’s Largest 4G Network” is a monster Sprint, Clear and company created themselves. If there ends up being a service migration to T-Mobile, they’ll have nowhere else to point the finger. The fact of the matter is, the term “4G” is fast being rendered meaningless by its saturation in advertising juxtaposed against actual network specs. If these service providers truly want to wow their customer base, they’re better off improving their individual technologies and boasting their own brands of Broadband Access technology (WiMax, LTE, or HSPA+) to differentiate from their competitors. Perhaps providers could even increase their allure by playing the easy transition card, highlighting current versions of WiMax and LTE ability to upgrade once their actual 4G relatives become available.

Even if they do do that, there’s a chance it won’t necessarily matter to consumers who just want a faster connection to go along with quality service. And are they really that much more desperate for a faster connection? If people are satisfied with the price they’re paying and the speeds at which their cell phones and Internet connect now, then no label promising greener grass on the other side of wireless broadband is guaranteed to garner any takers. People might be more inclined to wait for the real thing (WiMax Read the rest


on November 2, 2010   |   2 comments

The door to broadband progress has been kicked wide open in the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Several weeks ago we ran a story about Swift’ Networks WiMax trials in the nation’s largest city of Lagos; turns out they’re not the only ones trying to bring the benefit of blazing fast Internet to Africa’s most populous land.

Mobitel, one of Africa’s largest broadband service providers, today announced the launch of their Nigerian WiMax network. After its initial deployment in Lagos, funded by a US$70 Million investment, the company is ready to dole out upwards of around $350 million to further expand their network’s reach within its borders by the end of 2012.

The network has been in the making since March 2010, when Mobitel snagged a slice on the 2.3GHz spectrum from the Nigerian Communications Commission. Mobitel has not pinned all of its hopes on WiMax technology, as the buildup plans call for an eventual switch to LTE, though no time frame is mentioned for the transfer. 

It remains to be seen whether Swift Networks is planning a similar buildup and standard switch, but with companies like Beceem (now owned by Broadcom) putting together 4G multi-mode platforms, it’s sure to make the shift an easier option should companies choose flight over fight.… Read the rest


on October 29, 2010  

The many whispers concerning Intel’s WiMax intentions had grown to a deafening roar since the company had shuttered its Taiwan WiMax Program Office in June of this year. The Taiwanese government feared the industry bigwig was withdrawing their support for the format altogether, which didn’t sit well with President Ma Ying-jeou, seeing as his nation had just invested $220 million in related technologies and applications for the high-speed standard. With a nice chunk of that money sunk into Intel’s Taiwan efforts, the nation’s plans to stay the WiMax course would surely take a huge loss if that were the case.

Well, it’s time for Taiwan to exhale as all is well in their WiMax world. Intel’s CEO Paul Otellini met with the president recently to ensure him that his chip-making business was staying the course with the development of the wireless broadband technology within the country.

In a separate announcement, Intel’s director of advanced technical sales and services in the Asia-Pacific region endorsed the format saying, “Intel is fully committed to WiMax” and that “user demand” would determine WiMax’s future as opposed to Intel’s technological whims. So despite what their previous actions may have indicated, for the time being Taiwan need not fear–its investment is safe as long as Intel continues to say the right things.

Taiwan hopes their relationship with Intel can continue to grow into something as strong as the nation’s previous partnerships with mobile network equipment makers in Ericsson and fellow chip-makers at Qualcomm.

 … Read the rest


on October 27, 2010   |   1 comment

One of the early goals outlined by the Obama administration was to make high-speed Internet access a basic privilege of living within U.S. borders. Though the likes of Clearwire, Verizon, and AT&T have the bigger markets covered with their scheduled WiMax and LTE rollouts, those in the nation’s less-populated areas aren’t exactly on the high priority list for that caliber of broadband access.

In an effort to bridge the schism between big city broadband and lagging rural service, more than $500 million in broadband stimulus grants have been awarded to 40 companies by the the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A hefty chunk of the Rural Utility Service Fund’s second round of grants, the money will focus on the buildup of speedy networks in areas that are still stuck in the stone age of dial-up.

The operation will see the deployment of WiMax networks across 22 states from Washington to Mississippi. Two of the bigger ISPs to get government checks for their heartland-helping efforts are Washington state’s EcliptixNet Broadband and Virginia’s DigitalBridge Communications. The former will tackle the task of constructing a WiMax network for 46,000 households in rural Washington, whereas the latter will take on the challenge of spreading similar services across the expanses of Idaho, Mississippi and Indiana and covering around 76,000 rural residents. Those numbers may seem like small potatoes when compared to the national population, but bear in mind that is only the work of two of the forty grant recipients.

Just because these buildouts are subsidized by government grants doesn’t mean rural customers will be receiving their service for free. Bill Wallace of DigitalBridge estimates that his company’s service will cost $30/month for the home WiMax service, and an additional $15 for customers to use a USB device to take it with them.

Regardless of the cost, the fact that wireless broadband is ready to expand to the hard-to-reach regions in between the shining seas, is good news for the buildup of  our national infrastructure. It may not turn Internet access into one of our inalienable rights, but it goes a long way towards helping Americans chase life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness online.

 … Read the rest


on October 25, 2010  

From Teaneck to Cape May, the New Jersey highways are among some of the most heavily traveled roads in the country. 600 Million people traverse the 360 miles of highway made up by the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway each year. Safety and communication are of paramount importance for maintaining order along such important conduits for intrastate and interstate transport.

Though no one’s citing any specific non-Snooki-related situations that have taken place en route to the Jersey Shore, the state’s transit authority found it essential that its technological capabilities allow for an improved travel experience for motorists on the crowded roadway. Airspan, and Pinnacle Wireless will play a pivotal role in the a statewide project  to deploy a system that will enable  better communications, monitoring, and control along state roads.

The operation will divide the space into 100 WiMax sectors on the 4.9GHz band across the entirety of both the turnpike and parkway. Taking advantage of Airspan’s advanced technology HiperMAX base stations, Pinnacle Wireless will deploy a WiMax network that will allow for New Jersey’s Transit Authority to monitor traffic and closed-circuit TV cameras of highway activity. It will also give them speedy access to roadside message signs and weather information systems, should they need to be adjusted.

Despite the project’s “many unique requirements,” Airspan’s President of Sales and Products Amit Ancikovsky sees the NJTA being able “to quickly complete this project ensuring the increased safetyand convenience of millions of drivers.” The familiarity between Airspan and Pinnacle Wireless should help expedite the process, as the two companies have worked together on some other major WiMax deployments across the state– most notably for for the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority with communications coverage of Meadowlands and Monmouth Park.


on October 22, 2010   |   3 comments

People don’t tend to think of Iraq as a place with a heaping helping of  innovation. The events of the past seven years or so often bring to mind explosions, unrest, and other war-like circumstances that we imagine has left them in a state more reminiscent of the stone age than the modern one. Slowly but surely our perceptions of the fertile crescent nation have emerged from the gutter to see a place where civilization is no myth and progress is a reality, and not just on a socio-political level. Technologically, Iraq is doing their part to keep pace with other emerging nations and at the forefront of that effort is Fanoos Telecom.

The Kurdistan-based carrier boasting “Iraq’s most reliable wireless broadband service” and 250,000 subscribers is going 4G, or more accurately, they’re setting up  a WiMax network to bring their customers what the International Telecommunications Union now considers not-quite-4G. Utilizing Tellabs® SmartCore™ 9160 platform as its chief tool of deployment, the service will offer high performance and interoperability with multiple radio access network vendors. CEO Hiwa Rauf believes this specific equipment set has the ability to help his company “develop a complete network and avoid single vendor lock-in…”   The aim is to “create an interoperable wireless broadband system that’s ready for future expansion,” but  for now they’re concentrating their efforts on focal points in the North, distributing the new network to the cities of Sulaimaniyah, Mosul and Kirkuk. Fanoos hopes to complete their WiMax rollout to those key cities by the end of this year.… Read the rest


on October 21, 2010   |   3 comments

Sprint has been boasting of having the nation’s first 4G network for months now, deploying their WiMax technology across the United States to give their customers access to blazing fast Internet speed. MetroPCS is pushing the Samsung Craft in the few markets where its 4G network, built on the LTE standard, is operational. While the term “4G” has been tossed around rather freely by mobile carriers worldwide, it turns out each claim that they provide the best “4G” service has been a little white lie. We’re not denying their capabilities to actually furnish fast wireless broadband service, but, they technically weren’t providing 4G service– at least not according to the ITU.

As it turns out, in order to provide 4G, the International Telecommunication Union has to agree that it’s actually 4G. That affirmation was not exactly endorsed today when the ITU-R pronounced both WiMax 2 and LTE-Advanced fit as the “true” fourth-generation technologies. These are not the current incarnations of WiMax and LTE being deployed by the the likes of Verizon and Clearwire, meaning that those formats are not completely in accordance with IMT-Advanced requirements, though they may be capable of download speeds of up to 100mbps.  A March 2007 report released by the ITU, stated the IMT-Advanced stipulations as follows:

“The IMT Advanced systems shall be designed to provide best-in-class performance attributes such as peak and sustained data rates and corresponding spectral efficiencies, capacity, latency, overall network complexity and quality-of-service management.

The IMT Advanced system shall support applications that conform to open standards and protocols. This allows applications including, but not limited to, video, full graphical web browsing, e-mail, file uploading and downloading without size limitations (e.g., FTP), streaming video and streaming audio, IP Multicast, Location based services, VPN connections, VoIP, instant messaging and on- line multiplayer gaming.

The IMT Advanced systems shall provide the mobile user with an “always-on” experience while also taking into account and providing features needed to preserve battery life. The connectivity from the mobile terminal to the base station (BS) shall be automatic and transparent to the user as it moves between mobile networks.

The IMT-Advanced systems shall work in dense urban, urban, suburban, rural, outdoor-indoor, pedestrian, and vehicular environments and the relevant channel models shall be applicable. Systems are intended to provide ubiquitous mobile broadband wireless access in a cellular architecture (e.g. macro/micro/pico cells). The system shall support non-line Read the rest


on October 19, 2010   |   2 comments

For all the talk of the impending irrelevance of WiMax, it sure is making a big splash these days in some of the nation's biggest markets. The recent article in the New York Times trumpeting the arrival of WiMax in NYC, LA, and San Francisco via Clearwire may have been a boon for the 4G brand. Even with Verizon's impending LTE rollout, there is a groundswell of WiMax activity occurring as the number of cities covered by Clearwire's 4G network jumps to 57.

On top of the advancement of their mobile broadband network across the American expanse, Clear is seeing increased interest from one of the largest names in the media world. Time Warner has announced that they'll be tapping into WiMax 4G, using Clearwire's technology, in order to bring faster Internet to NYC. The cable giant's service will give customers access to  nationwide 3G service and 4G coverage in the ever-growing list of cities where Clearwire's network exists, so long as users subscribe to another of the company's cable services.

The partnership has its pros and cons for Clearwire. One of the original selling points for their own brand of 4G WiMax was that it offered customers a faster alternative to those who felt there was little available alternative to the vertically integrated services offered by their own cable providers. I know, as a Time Warner customer, I've often been dissatisfied with the frequent internet speed issues that plague my apartment. By allowing Time Warner to get in on their WiMax efforts, they, in effect, give users access to the same technology and the ability to roam with it without the inconvenience of dealing with multiple providers. Thus, the possibility of needing to pay more than one bill is eliminated. Sure, Clear's mobile internet service has a different and somewhat more convenient price point for those hard up for cash, but when one-stop shopping is the name of the game, you'd be surprised how little customers might take that into consideration. Not to roll over and die on the issue of vertical integration by corporate behemoths, but sometimes it's just easier to get all your stuff from one place. Does the name Wal-mart ring a bell?

On the flipside, the diversification of Clearwire's efforts to bring their WiMax technology to the masses via cable, a tad before Verizon brings LTE to the market, could prove a masterstroke … Read the rest


on October 14, 2010   |   1 comment

WIth WiMax availability quickly expanding throughout the U.S., the forward-thinking minds at Toshiba's Digital Products division thought it might be a good idea to take advantage of the burgeoning 4G capabilities of many of those major markets. 54 cities are expected to utilize the 4G WiMax technology by the end of 2010 and it's a healthy assumption that consumers will be hungry to experience the increased network speed. Instead of dangling a Snickers in the face of techies to satisfy that hunger, Toshiba decided to get with the times. On top of a bevy of laptops released in September, their most most revered laptop model– The Portégé R700– is now a WiMax-ready instrument capable of getting the best broadband experience possible.The world’s lightest 13.3-inch full-performance ultra-portable laptop featuring an integrated DVD drive just got an upgrade.

According to Carl Pinto, vice president of product development for Toshiba America Information Systems, with the new-and-improved model "business professionals will be able to enjoy the benefits of having citywide connectivity at their fingertips.” While many industry professionals are ready to proclaim the death of WiMax, such improvements geared towards embracing the technology seem to indicate it still has a pulse. Whether or not that pulse quickens or slowly fades out depends on just how long others are willing to hold off for the launch of LTE and subsequent improvements in the interoperability of Wimax and LTE.… Read the rest


on October 12, 2010   |   1 comment

Just because a nation is saddled with "third world" status, doesn't mean it should only be covered with 3rd generation (3G) wireless broadband service. A speedy internet connection can help lift a city's infrastructure out of the doldrums of an impoverished past, by picking up the pace with which it communicates with the rest of the world– and within its own.

Hoping to give Lagos –Nigeria's largest city–a bit of a boost in its online interactions, Swift Networks has begun trials on its WIMAX Network and backend systems. The tests will focus on 500 users of both the business and personal variety located in different sections of the city. The WiMax guinea pigs were chosen to participate based on volume of their broadband Internet needs. Amongst those hoping to have their business buoyed by the new service are banks looking to connect their branch offices to their main offices.

The chief goal of the trial, according to COO Chuma Okoye, was to showcase the speed of the 4G WiMax network working in concert with Swift's offerings in the realms of video, fax, phone service, and the world wide web. While there's no word yet on how the preliminary run is going, Swift is confident the end result will be a much improved customer experience and an all around faster Internet. We wish them "Goodluck," and not just because it's the first name of their president.… Read the rest