Wednesday, December 23, 2009

2010 Prediction: A Mix of WiMAX Smartphones and Low-Cost Devices to Emerge

By Guest Blogger Pascal Deriot, Senior Analyst & Partner, WiMAX & LTE Equipment, Maravedis

In a recent interview, Sprint CEO Dan Hesse commented that not only was its network up and running, but its compelling and cool devices, such as dual-mode 3G/4G smartphones, will make WiMAX a successful adoption. On the same front, Clearwire CEO Bill Morrow explained that the second stage of Clearwire’s business model, targeting the PDA/smartphone market, is to happen in the second half of 2010. Although Yota has proved that smartphones can be a great vehicle to promote the fantastic bandwidth capability of the first 4G technology, we also project that the cost of the WiMAX platform is another angle that needs to be considered.

As previously seen in Wi-Fi or 3GPP/3GPP2 markets, WiMAX chipset vendors have leveraged their first or second generations to further reduce chipset costs by migrating to a smaller geometry process node, and/or by introducing monolithic dies. At the same time, new packaging approaches, such as System-in-Package and optimized Bill Of Material (BOM), have significantly reduced the footprint of the WiMAX platform, allowing device manufacturers to launch a new generation of products that are more appealing, integrated, and that combine 3G and 4G standards.

The new research report released by WCAI member Maravedis in partnership with Reveal Wireless, “WiMAX Wave2 Subscriber Station Chipset Vendors Competitive Analysis” provides a detailed comparison of the key WiMAX chipset vendors, identifying system architectures, estimating chipset and system BOM, and cost of available devices such as CPEs, USB dongles or Express Cards. One of the report’s major findings is that WiMAX mass-market adoption may require sub-US$10 chipsets that are power and performance optimized for each application-specific segment. Maravedis and Reveal Wireless have identified three chipset vendors best positioned to achieve the US$10 price target through base-band and RF monolithic die integration in 65-nm.

Although most of the available chipsets are not highly optimized because they were compelled to cover a broad range of application segments, an additional study revealed that device manufacturers could build a basic WiMAX USB dongle solution for as low as sub US$50, while maintaining healthy profit margins. The figure below presents the breakdown of the cost of the USB dongle: the electronic BOM (eBOM) is composed of all the platform components, excluding the chipset. A basic USB dongle platform can be divided into 3 main sub-systems: base-band, RF and power management sub-systems, bringing the component count to 150-200 components. The rBOM, also called sometimes mBOM, defines the mechanical Bill-Of-Material. It contains the non-electronic components such as connectors, USB plug, antennas, PCB, housing, shielding or screws. Our total manufacturing cost estimation includes the labor cost, profit and SG&A. According to our research the WiMAX chipset, by its complexity and silicon die size, represents 44% of the total cost.

Moreover, our analysis shows that a combination of an aggressive Bill-Of-Material reduction by 20-30%, combined with a second generation chipset and higher production volumes, could further shrink the cost of the USB dongle by roughly 20%, providing a sub-US$40 product in 2010 time-frame.

We believe that WiMAX mass-market adoption requires a ubiquitous coverage and technology maturity, a mixed portfolio of appealing, integrated and low cost devices, and competitive WiMAX chipsets. We have no doubt that all these ingredients will be ready next year contributing to a fantastic growth of the WiMAX market, in all regions.

MARAVEDIS is a leading analyst firm focusing on disruptive technologies including smart networks using WiMAX, IEEE, and 3GPP/LTE. For more information about Maravedis, please visit or contact

Monday, December 14, 2009

Octo-Wireless Solves Insufficient Indoor Coverage Problems for Wireless Broadband Access

Wireless service providers can now meet the biggest challenge of insufficient indoor coverage for wireless broadband access. By providing smaller, powerful and less power consuming base nodes (microcells) in smaller areas, WCAI member Octo-Wireless helps operators in all licensed and unlicensed spectrum bands provide better coverage without a huge capital investment.

Octo-Wireless founders’ wireless experience dates back to the summer of 2002 when they pioneered many of the basic technologies that have driven the wireless mesh revolution over the last seven years. This intellectual leadership remains part of the company’s DNA, as Octo-Wireless continues to introduce wireless technologies to its customers worldwide.

The applications and services now available at home and in the office will become available everywhere. Ubiquitous broadband access will encourage work productivity, personal communications and entertainment on the go. New services and applications specifically suited to mobile usage will appear: mobile office, on-board entertainment, mobile search, fleet management, surveillance and public safety will be the first to be adopted and more will follow. To meet the demand for wireless broadband, carriers, mobile operators, service providers, utilities and enterprises have to explore new technologies when planning for next-generation networks. They want to roll out these services now.

However, one of the biggest challenges service providers are facing today is insufficient indoor coverage for wireless broadband access. The timing of 3G service rollouts is making this problem more relevant, as service providers realize that services will have limited success without addressing the indoor coverage issue. The cost to address these shortcomings with traditional macrocell base station solutions is too high and not feasible for most clients.

A picocell or, as Octo-Wireless prefers to call it, a microcell approach addresses these challenges in a much more cost-effective manner. Octo-Wireless’ goal is to lead the market in providing trusted wireless microcell solutions, which will enable its customers in the utilities, telecom and enterprise markets to access and really enjoy the limitless capabilities of the wirelessly enabled Internet.

A founding member of the WCAI’s 3.65 GHz Working Group, Octo-Wireless is also actively involved in assisting 3.65 GHz licensees in the United States with deployments and expansion of their networks.

Octo-Wireless is an ideal partner for operators that work toward reducing their networks' carbon footprints. Octo-Wireless ships products and solutions that meet or exceed industry standards and comply with the European RoHS requirements thus creating environmentally friendly technology advanced green products.

For more information on Octo-Wireless, please visit or contact Frank Koopman at

Friday, December 4, 2009

Airspan 3.65 GHz Band FCC Certification Redefines U.S. WiMAX Arena

By Guest Blogger Dori Erann, Senior Director of Marketing Communications, Airspan

Due to recent Airspan developments, wireless operators are now able to take advantage of the full 50 MHz (lower and upper) 3.65 GHz frequency band. Until now, the lightly licensed frequency band made only the lower 25 MHz available for WiMAX operation. But earlier this week, Airspan, a WCAI member, announced that it has received the first-ever certification for a WiMAX system to operate in the upper 25 MHz (3675-3700 MHz).

Airspan has been a dominant player in the 3.65 GHz band in the U.S., with a majority market share as well as the first WiMAX system to be certified by the FCC for both portions of the band.

Implementing the FCC’s contention protocol, the Airspan HiperMAX system is now certified for use in the full 3.65 GHz. Existing Airspan customers can take advantage of this certification and can immediately apply for use of the upper 25 MHz. New operators will be able to apply for the full spectrum in their FCC registrations.

The certification applies to both fixed 802.16d as well as 802.16e applications.

There have been many speculations by industry players as to whether the upper ‘unrestricted’ band would be made available by the FCC. Operators nationwide have expressed strong interest and support for this move in order to allow added capacity and range, enabled by the additional spectrum.

Airspan clearly has a market advantage with this surprise certification. And, with double the amount of spectrum, Airspan 3.65 GHz customers will benefit greatly with the ability to integrate more cost effective business models, while better serving their customer base.

The timing of this new Airspan certification is ideal, allowing Broadband Stimulus applicants to incorporate new deployment and business models into their network plans, better meeting agency requirements by extending coverage with double the capacity and/or double the range.

For more information on Airspan’s equipment, please visit or contact Declan Byrne, Chief Marketing Officer for Airspan at

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

WCAI Congratulates Airspan on Industry-First FCC Certification for Upper 25MHz of 3.65GHz

WCAI member Airspan Networks announced today that the FCC certified its WiMAX equipment to operate over the full 50 MHz of the 3.65 GHz lightly licensed band in the United States. The certification for the first time allows U.S. 3.65 GHz operators to use the upper "unrestricted" 25 MHz of this lightly licensed frequency band.

The announcement is a major first step on the way to unleashing the potential of the 3.65 GHz band in the United States. This industry-first certification unlocks 25 MHz of valuable spectrum and opens the door to hundreds of licensees who stand ready to bring advanced wireless broadband services to rural America.

Led by some of the major players in the band, WCAI recently launched an effort to harmonize the 3.65 GHz frequencies by addressing its remaining regulatory and technical challenges. Airspan is an active member of the WCAI’s 3.65 GHz Working Group, which is also supported by major manufacturers and licensees in the 3.65 GHz band. We look forward to working with the FCC and the industry to unleash the value in the band to the benefit of operators, equipment vendors and the public.

WCAI Launches Industry Effort to Unlock 3.65 GHz Band Potential

Building on a solid track record of successful government advocacy in wireless broadband in the United States and globally, WCAI has launched an industry-led effort to unlock the potential of the 3.65 GHz band by addressing its remaining regulatory and technical challenges.

Earlier this month, we formed the 3.65 GHz Working Group to:

(1) Develop a synchronization protocol in the band to promote coordination and mitigate harmful interference among operators;
(2) Promote coordination between suppliers and operators; and
(3) Address regulatory issues within the band.

Leading the initiative is Jason Lazar, Vice President of Corporate Development and General Counsel of KeyOn Communications and Chair of our 3.65 GHz Working Group. KeyOn is a wireless broadband provider operating in the 3.65 GHz and other bands that serves customers in 11 states, primarily in rural markets.

“Our vast regulatory and technical experience makes WCAI an ideal vehicle for an industry-led 3.65 GHz Working Group,” said WCAI President Fred Campbell, who played an instrumental role in developing the rules for the 3.65 GHz band in his previous position as an FCC Wireless Bureau Chief. “This new initiative will help unlock the full potential of the 3.65 GHz band for the benefit of the industry and consumers alike.”

The 3.65 GHz band presents a unique opportunity to operators in the United States to expand their coverage to new markets and improve the economics and performance of their networks. Over 1,100 operators nationwide have applied for or received a license to operate in these lightly licensed frequencies since they were made available by the FCC in 2005. However, the band has still not reached a critical mass of deployment and harbors significant potential for growth.

“The establishment of a 3.65 GHz Working Group within WCAI represents a significant step forward for those using the band to deliver wireless broadband services,” said WCAI Counsel Paul Sinderbrand of Wilkinson Barker Knauer, LLP. “Whether working with industry to develop best practices that can be implemented without the need for new FCC rules, or working with the FCC to develop new rules where necessary, WCAI has a track record of unleashing the value in wireless broadband spectrum to the benefit of operators, equipment vendors and the public. WCAI was actively involved when the current rules governing the band were adopted, and the 3.65 GHz Working Group will continue WCAI's role in the growth of the band as a vehicle for wireless broadband distribution."

WCAI held an informative webinar presentation to launch the group.