WiMax certification not enough for some vendors

Interoperability between products from different vendors is important for WiMax's success, and some vendors wish certification would happen faster

The WiMax Forum has announced the first certified products for Mobile WiMax, but it won't help operators in Europe and the U.S.

The certification process -- which assures interoperability between products from different vendors and makes it possible for operators to mix and match -- is important for WiMax's success.

"For mobile WiMax to be seen as a truly open standard, products need to be interoperable," said Ben Ansell, WiMax solutions marketing manager at Motorola.

The eight products announced as certified by the WiMax Forum support 2.3GHz, which is the frequency used in Korea, instead of 2.5GHz or 3.5GHz, which will dominate in the rest of the world. Sprint uses 2.5GHz, for example.

"The announcement will only have a marginal impact, but it shows the certification process is moving forward," said Bruno Potdevin, vice president, business development and marketing for WiMax at Alcatel-Lucent.

Motorola and Alcatel-Lucent want certification of more frequencies, and support for Wave 2, which includes advanced features. The certified products support Wave 1, which includes just basic features.

The WiMax Forum expects that to happen during the third quarter, but that is not soon enough.

"We can't wait. We are installing networks now," said Potdevin.

To maintain momentum, and ease the minds of worried carriers, both companies are conducting interoperability tests, at the same time they still support the certification process.

Mobile WiMax is being closely monitored, and it's all about appearance. The wait for certified products may have an impact on some, according to Ansell.

"We had hoped the certification would happen faster, but it will happen," he said.

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