This photo was too good to pass up. (Click for larger pic) It’s a display of Motorola M2M (machine-to-machine) modules with the X24 WiMAX version on top. I wrote last week about using the X24 for in-car broadband applications. Other use cases include security and tracking, automated meter reading and electronic points of sale.
Fred Wright touched on wired versus wireless backhaul in his presentation this morning, but I was able to get more details in the Motorola booth. Backhaul is the portion of a network that links a cellular or wireless tower to the network backbone. Many operators currently use T1 lines for backhaul, often leasing them from other network operators for a couple hundred dollars a month. A reasonably efficient model and not very expensive. But WiMAX changes the equation.
Because of the throughput needed for WiMAX, operators need significantly more backhaul bandwidth than they have in the past. Instead of leasing a couple of T1 lines for each wireless tower, they’re looking at needing 15 or 16 now, and that adds up. One alternative is to use wireless backhaul. Motorola has a point-to-point wireless solution called the PTP 600. Where a T1 line supports 1.5 MB in each direction, the PTP 600 supports 300 MB across both directions. It’s also not a lease model, which means operators can buy once and not pay out a monthly fee.
Motorola’s Fred Wright spoke at a keynote breakfast this morning to kick off today’s WiMAX World activities. One of his major points of emphasis was interoperability of WiMAX devices. As much as Motorola is excited about its own WiMAX products, Fred noted how critical it is to have a whole ecosystem of devices available to attract consumers. Last night at the Smart Home event, there were several third-party products operating off of the installed Motorola WiMAX access point – a photo frame, a cordless phone, the OQO handheld. And right now Ron Resnick, president of the WiMAX Forum, is talking about opportunities for new types of devices, like a WiMAX USB dongle that also works as an MP3 player. According to Ron, there are more than 480 WiMAX devices currently under development by more than 80 vendors. Interoperability is critical.
It was extremely useful to be connected to the Motorola WiMAX network at tonight’s Smart Home event, but unfortunately, since no one’s popularized wireless power yet, my on-site blogging/tweeting was still limited. Here’s a short video after the fact. It’s 45 seconds of Motorola’s Dan Moloney welcoming folks to the event with an overlay of some quick clips showing WiMAX-enabled applications. At about the 20-second mark you’ll see streaming video on a handheld device (the OQO) and then the same IP video running on a large-screen TV – all over the WiMAX network. After that is an incongruous but cool clip showing remote automation of some window shades being manipulated from a handheld… using the WiMAX network. Enjoy.