WiMax was the belle of the CTIA ball
Sprint is deploying WiMax, other carriers are considering it
Network World - ORLANDO -- Many themes carried this week's CTIA Wireless 2007 conference, but perhaps none were more prevalent than WiMax.
The show, which catered to all things mobile for consumers, businesses, operators, vendors and content providers, highlighted a variety of hot topics -- mobile TV, advertising, payments, handsets, enterprise services, operator technology and even the use of wireless by a couple of ex-presidents -- but WiMax resoundingly reverberated through the cavernous hallways of the Orange County Convention Center.
"We do need that WiMax coverage and we need it soon," said Conrad Cross, CIO of the city of Orlando, referring to the city's use of Sprint Nextel Corp.'s current generation Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) EV-DO technology for public safety.
Cross may not have to wait long. At the show, Sprint Nextel announced the expansion of its WiMax coverage to 19 cities (Orlando was not one of them -- yet), as well as more handset partners, and the commencement of an ecosystem program linking chip set and handset makers. Sprint Nextel also reiterated plans to hit 100 million points of presence with WiMax by the end of next year.
Sprint Nextel also used the show to proclaim itself the "800-pound gorilla" of WiMax because of its partnerships with device makers and two-year head start on competitors in upgrading its wireless network to fourth-generation (4G) standards (see related story).
Verizon Wireless is also evaluating WiMax as a 4G underpinning, but one executive said the carrier is content to take a "long, long, long" time before making a 4G decision. The operator needs a Frequency Division Duplex (FDD) technology with which to upgrade its EV-DO Revision 0 and Revision A (Rev. A) network, and WiMax currently operates in Time Division Duplex (TDD) mode, said Kyle Malady, vice president of network technology development.
"I don't have any TDD spectrum," Malady said. "We're just looking at the technology right now, and we're working with folks who are inside that ecosystem figuring out what we can do, what we can trial, when an FDD prototype might be available."
Malady said Verizon Wireless is also putting the two other flavors of 4G -- Long Term Evolution (LTE) and Ultra Mobile Broadband -- through their paces. But the operator is in no rush, despite Sprint Nextel's apparent timing advantage.
"We're not going to be forced by time on this," Malady said. "We're going to be riding the Rev. A horse for a long, long, long time."
WiMax vendor Nortel announced a couple of milestones. Reston, Va.-based Mobile Satellite Ventures, a provider of mobile satellite communications services, will deploy an integrated 4G and satellite broadband trial with Nortel WiMax gear. And Wind Telecom, a new network operator in the Dominican Republic, plans to deploy a wireless broadband network based on Nortel WiMax technology to offer high-speed broadband services to urban and rural customers across the country.
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