Mobile WiMAX certification labs coming on line

26 Apr 2006

Now that IEEE has ratified the 'mobile' amendment to the WiMAX standard, the WiMAX Forum is moving quickly to set up certification labs for testing of mobile products to be introduced later this year.

Last December, the IEEE ratified the 802.16e amendment to its 802.16-2004 Air Interface Standard. In short, IEEE 802.16e adds mobility to WiMAX. And now that 'e' is ratified, WiMAX Forum's Mobile Technical Group is quickly moving ahead, developing the system profiles that will define the mandatory and optional features of the amendment that are necessary to build a mobile WiMAX-compliant air interface.

One of the key technologies incorporated in the amendment is scalable Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access technology for improved multi-path performance in non-line-of-sight environments. In the IEEE 802.16e amendment, Scalable OFDMA supports scalable channel bandwidths from 1.25 to 20 MHz. However, the Mobile WiMAX Release-1 profiles will only cover 5-, 7-, 8.75- and 10-MHz channel bandwidths for licensed spectrum allocations in the 2.3-, 2.5- and 3.5-GHz frequency bands. (The 2.3-GHz has been allocated in Korea for WiBro, the 2.5-GHz band is available in the US and the 3.5-GHz band is available in many other countries.) The goal is to have certified mobile WiMAX products available in the latter half of this year.

Critical to bringing certified products to market by the end of the year will be having certification test labs operational by mid-year.

Avoiding backlog

Last year under contract to the WiMAX Forum, Centro de Tecnologia de las Comunicaciones (CETECOM) set up a certification test lab for fixed WiMAX systems. The lab is now certifying WiMAX-compliant products for fixed services, specifically products for the licensed 3.5-GHz band and licensed-exempt 5.8-GHz band. But so to not cause a backlog for mobile-product testing, the WiMAX Forum is setting up a second certification lab in Korea. Both labs - TTA and CETECOM - are expected to be fully operational for mobile WiMAX profile certifications by the third quarter.

Just last month, the WiMAX Forum signed a contract with Aeroflex and CETECOM to develop the protocol conformance test solution. Aeroflex brings protocol conformance expertise to the partnership while CETECOM brings is RF conformance testing capability and ongoing involvement in the development of the WiMAX standards to the partnership.

The first product that the Aeroflex/CETECOM partnership will bring to market is a base station emulator to be used for protocol conformance testing of mobile stations executing ETSI approved TTCN-3 test cases. Early functionality will be available to support product development efforts with a fully functional development system available later. A mobile emulator for base station testing will follow shortly after. Aeroflex anticipates that delivery of the WiMAX 802.16e protocol conformance test solution will be in the second half of 2006.

In another development, picoChip will supply its multi-core processor arrays and software to be incorporated into the protocol conformance tester. The CETECOM WiMAX test suite will incorporate a test base station and a subscriber station that are used to simulate a complete link when characterizing the BS and SS equipment under test. picoChip's PC102 picoArray and PC 8530 software stack will be used in the same way in these test stations as they will be in an operating network. This offers the advantages of rapid reconfigurability using only upgrades to the software.

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