With the IEEE 802.16e specification for mobile WiMax slowly moving toward approval, Motorola and Intel are now teaming up to help lay the groundwork for the next phase of standardization: establishing WiMax Forum profiles for implementing the mobile version of the wireless broadband technology.
The companies will work together in labs, test their products for interoperability, and come up with recommendations on profiles, or the guidelines that the WiMax Forum will set for implementation of mobile WiMax, said Tom Mitoraj, director of WiMax business development at Motorola.
The WiMax Forum, a consortium that includes vendors and service providers, currently is working on certifying fixed WiMax products based on the IEEE 802.16-2004 standard. Those products won't allow subscribers to use WiMax while in motion.
The IEEE 802.16e standard, still being developed in draft form by a working group of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, won't define mobile WiMax closely enough to immediately create a high-volume set of products, he said.
"The specification is a long list of ingredients that can be put together to cook up WiMax," Mitoraj said. The WiMax Forum's role is to come up with recipes, he said. "If we all want to be interoperable, we all have to build equipment that's based on the same recipes."
For example, the IEEE standard allows for the use of a wide range of radio frequencies and different sized spectrum bands, said Adolfo Masini, vice president for business development in the Wireless Broadband Group of Motorola Networks. The world is full of different national radio regulations, but not all of these can be addressed exactly, he said.
"We don't want to have to build an infinite variety, otherwise the economies of scale start to suffer," Masini said.
By working together now, Motorola and Intel hope to get some work done ahead of time, coming up with smart approaches to mobile WiMax that they can later share as part of overall collaboration among all WiMax Forum members. Cooperation between two of the major vendors in the field should reduce the amount of work required later by the full group, Mitoraj said.
"This is evidence of that collaboration starting," Mitoraj said. What Motorola hopes to bring to the table is insight into mobility issues, such as battery life and heat generation, that have not been relevant to the fixed WiMax technology now being certified by the WiMax Forum.
"We can ensure that some of the essential elements are given proper consideration and that we take advantage of the 20 years of cellular and mobile experience that we have and avoid a bunch of false starts," he said.
Motorola emphasized it will cooperate with other vendors. However, Gartner analyst Ken Dulaney warned Motorola and Intel may be looking to make their own technology approach dominant at the group.
"Don't be so sure these companies have the interests of the WiMax Forum at heart," Dulaney said.