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WiMAX Certification

And the news keeps rolling. In addition to a new WiMAX contract in France, Motorola announced today certification of its WiMAX WAP 25400 base station by the WiMAX Forum. The certification process for 2.5GHz WiMAX products is completely new and extremely welcome. It’s what the WiMAX forum was put in place to do – certify WiMAX products for interoperability.

According to Peter N. Jarich of Current Analysis,

For the service providers looking to deploy WiMAX, certification is critical. It proves interoperability, it gives a pathway to scale, it provides us with some way to get to that ecosystem that will help users get access to WiMAX services and do what they want with the WiMAX network.

More info and a short video available here.

Side note: for general information on all things WiMAX, check out analyst Paul Kapustka’s blog, Sidecut Reports.


If you think about GPON in the US at all (Gigabit Passive Optical Networks – a fiber-to-the-home network standard), you think about Verizon. Verizon’s been high-profile on its fiber deployments and the migration from BPON technology to GPON. However, it’s not the only operator making a GPON move. Two smaller telecoms announced today that they’re committing to GPON deployments with Motorola gear: D&P Communications, headquartered in Michigan, and PBT Communications, headquartered in South Carolina.

What’s particularly interesting about the news is that both D&P and PBT are using RF overlays with their fiber networks. In other words, for the video portion of their services, both operators will start with RF signals, translate and transport those signals via IP, and then translate the electrical signals back to RF at the consumer house (via a Motorola ONT). The reason for this is so they can continue to use existing set-tops and headend equipment. At the same time, the operators still get the flexibility of an IP fiber network, including the ability to offer massive broadband data speeds. RF video plus IP data equals cost-effective next-gen network.

Femtocell Primer

There’s a lot going on this week and next. Both NXTcomm and the WiMAX Forum Global Congress are taking place now, with SCTE following next week. Expect some heavy posting here as I do my best to keep up with all that’s going on.

Before addressing the flood of news, here’s a quick primer with Motorola’s Alan Lefkof on femtocells, which are a hot topic in telecom at the moment. I’ve covered femtocells before (new CDMA femtocell, and region-by-region look at the market), but thought it worth taking a step back to go over the basics. Wondering what a femtocell is? Start here:

Q&A with Alan Lefkof

What exactly are femtocells and how do they work?
Femtocells are low-power, wireless access points that operate in the home or small office to connect standard mobile devices to a wireless operator’s network using residential DSL or cable broadband connections. Essentially, they enhance the wireless signal within the home so that users don’t have to deal with dropped calls or spotty reception, which can happen in home or building environments.

What is Motorola doing in the femtocell arena? Do they currently have any trials going on?
Femtocells can help drive the convergence of fixed and mobile voice and data communications, so our femtocell solutions address everything from the device itself to the remote management of the femtocell. Our femtocell trials are being conducted this year, with commercial launches expected to begin in 2009.

Why would I want a femtocell in my home? What are the benefits?
Consumers who primarily use their mobile phones at home even when they have a fixed line telephone can leverage their existing home broadband connections to enjoy high-speed Internet access with their wireless mobile devices while indoors for seamless communications. They can also enjoy inexpensive high quality voice and data calls without worrying about losing their cell signal once they enter their home.

Service providers and operators have the opportunity to improve user’s wireless experience in the home and this is essential for reducing customer churn and gaining market share – and new revenues. Femtocells also offer a lower cost of delivery for wireless traffic in comparison to the macro cell network and can be used as a means of off-loading backhaul traffic.

This technology could be one of the most exciting developments in home networking since the arrival of Wi-Fi – both are enabling operators to better meet consumer demands for seamless connectivity.

What are some of the current challenges in today’s marketplace for femtocells?
There are a variety of challenges that femtocells face in today’s marketplace — It must perform in a hostile RF environment; it must meet the high expectations of a mature cellular subscriber base; it must integrate seamlessly with existing access networks; it must be capable of being deployed and supported in high volume; it must extract maximum performance from backhaul and it must be capable of being remotely managed without excessive operator effort. Motorola offers this type of centralized remote provisioning, troubleshooting and management through our NBBS device management platform, providing carriers with the service assurance needed to deploy advanced services, such as femtocells, and optimize their networks with confidence.

These “must have” attributes are required for any operator to put in place an end-to-end femtocell solution that will in turn increase ARPU, grow market share, and enable partnerships with wireless service providers.

From both a market and technology perspective, femtocells represent a lot of opportunity; what are some other possibilities you see as 3G becomes more “ubiquitous”? Continue reading