WiMAX approved as 3G standard

Ken Wieland, Contributing Editor

October 19, 2007

2 Min Read
WiMAX approved as 3G standard

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is expected to announce that WiMAX has been approved as a 3G IMT-2000 standard on Friday.

The move will allow WiMAX deployments to occupy globally allocated frequency bands and complement or compete with other 3G technologies.

The agreement is understood to have been reached in an ITU meeting held late Thursday. Negotiators reportedly had a tough time hammering out the details as there were a number of objections to the inclusion of WiMAX as a 3G standard.

Ron Resnick, president of the WiMAX Forum, said the decision to approve the Forum’s version of IEEE Standard 802.16 as an IMT-2000 technology significantly escalates opportunities for global deployment, especially within the 2.5-2.69GHz band.

“This is the first time that a new air interface has been added to the IMT-2000 set of standards since the original technologies were selected nearly a decade ago. WiMAX technology currently has the potential to reach 2.7 billion people. And today’s announcement expands the reach to a significantly larger global population,” Resnick said.

The decision will likely prove a hot topic at the World Radio Conference (WRC-07), which kicks off in Switzerland next week.

The ITU Working Party 8F (WP8F), which was responsible for the decision, has been weighing a proposal by the IEEE and the WiMAX Forum to embrace mobile WiMAX, specifically IP-OFDMA, the basis of 802.16e technology.

The proposal says that WiMAX will complement 3G and offer operators “an additional migration path” to support wireless-broadband services, whether by providing low-cost access in rural environments or by adding capacity in metropolitan areas.

UK, US and Australian administrations in particular pushed strongly for WiMAX’s inclusion but there are those that represent the 3G industry that want to keep the 2.5-2.6GHz spectrum for 3G.

Last year the GSM Association (GSMA) attacked European Commission attempts to pursue technology neutrality in the 2.5-2.6GHz band and, in the UK, O2 and T-Mobile opposed regulator Ofcom’s plan to reopen 2.5-2.6GHz spectrum, as did vendor Siemens and the UMTS Forum.

In Europe, WiMAX-friendly 2.6GHz spectrum has been awarded in the Netherlands and Russia and will be awarded in the UK either this year or more likely, 2008. Norway recently awarded 2.3GHz spectrum.

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