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Rolling Out the WiMAX



Rolling Out the WiMAX

A wireless sector development to watch closely is the implementation of WiMAX technology, scheduled for interoperability testing with broad implementation expected by the end of 2005. WiMAX is a licensed networking technology that provides high-throughput broadband connections over long distances. WiMAX can be used in a diverse arsenal of applications, including "last mile" broadband connections, hotspot and cellular backhaul, and high-speed enterprise connectivity for businesses.



Anticipating the impact of the evolving WiMAX technology, the Lumera Corporation will very shortly be introducing their complementary device, a beam forming smart antenna, which can adapt to changing data transmission environments and maximize data communication capacity and quality. This is the first smart antenna to integrate specifically into customer premise equipment. Lumera expects to have their antennas available in early 2005, said Dan Lykken, VP of sales and marketing with Lumera.



Once WIMAX usage becomes more standard, base stations will be deployed, which will necessitate end user reception by either terminals or customer premise equipment. “Although the average range is typically good,” said Lykken, “our smart antenna is designed for longer ranges. What we are hearing from some WiMAX market participants is that a dipole antenna will work up to a distance of 1 – 2 miles, depending on conditions. In contrast, we expect our smart antenna will work for up to 7 miles for rural applications and those needing more range.”



Through its beam forming technology, Lumera’s smart antenna will maximize received energy from the base station by flexibly forming the beam in the proper direction. This eliminates the need for a dish to be positioned with minute accuracy in order to pick up a signal, making deployment much easier than it is now. WiMAX providers are seeking smart antennas so they do not have to ‘roll out truck’ to complete an install thereby reducing costs for business and end users.



Lykken expects that the WiMAX platform will first introduce fixed portable broadband, and, eventually, could offer a fully mobile solution. “Our product is designed for the enterprise portable broadband market, where the antenna will configure itself in the optimum way to communicate with the tower. In addition to WiMAX, when deployed with an access point in the enterprise, it is suitable for MIMO (multiple in, multiple out) applications. “We have been speaking to a number of industry participants about IP data and with broadband IP we expect multiple user applications to be extended to voice and video. Some of our partners want to roll this technology out to provide video for developing countries where they hope to beam video for the last mile. Think of it as ‘broadband on demand’,” said Lykken.



The Smart Antenna in Defense



In addition to the many business and personal communications uses, the smart antenna could also be deployed to benefit the Homeland Defense sector.



In its defense strategy against biological and chemical attacks, the US has established the Project Bioshield Act of 2004, which utilizes a network of environmental sensors to detect biological weapons attacks against major cities in the United States. Biodetectors (which are expected to be introduced soon in many major American cities) collect samples, conduct tests right on location, and send the results to the lab wirelessly.



“One of the benefits that our product presents,” said Lumera’s Lykken, “is that in this scenario smart antenna technology could be deployed. Rather than utilizing a number of fixed antennas pointing at bio-sensors, you could have a smart antenna with beam scanning technology that could scan multiple sensors at once.”

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