Nortel and Taiwan's Ministry of Economic Affairs (MoEA) in May signed an agreement for the joint development of an end-to-end WiMAX ecosystem in Taiwan, covering joint prototype product development, interoperability testing, support for WiMAX device development, OFDM-MIMO integration, and collaboration on the next-generation of WiMAX standards.
Telecom Asia: How significant is the agreement with Taiwan's MoEA‾
MacKinnon: Basically, what we've done there is we're looking at the fact that there would be certification labs in Taiwan from a WiMAX perspective. Today there really are not enough locations to demonstrate the WiMAX standard. In Taiwan there will be two such labs.
The reason we chose Taiwan is because 90% of the world's WiMAX products come out of Taiwan. The other reason, in terms of standards evolution, is there are some specific initiatives that Nortel is driving and were working on with ITRI and IEEE as part of the MoEA initiative.
Taiwan has a number of WiMAX test deployments this year. Do you see it as the leader in Asia‾
Yes, absolutely. I have been looking at the market as a showcase opportunity for the rest of the world. And Chunghwa, I guess, is the main one. There are two main reasons - one is the opportunity to have several kinds of devices and also to try somebody's applications.
When I mention quality-of-service, we actually thought the other vendors had pretty decent QoS. But what we're finding out is with the experience of Nortel in carrying VoIP and bringing that knowledge to WiMAX, we seem to be uniquely positioned in delivering these service classes in WiMAX.
What that means is not only that you'll see WiMAX for data, which a lot of people associate it with, but you can also do VoIP and video. That's going to change a lot with the adoption of WiMAX, and it's going to have a much broader suite of applications that can be supported. That's the strategic opportunity for us to showcase what we can do.
The second one, Chunghwa, has a 2G and 3G network so that gives us insight in terms of where they see WiMAX products being deployed versus what they already have today.
How important overall is WiMAX to Nortel‾
When Mike Zafirovski [new CEO] came to Nortel in November 2005, there was a review of WiMAX on December 20. He asked if we had a plan to become a leader or we were just starting a product line and spending money. From that meeting onwards, the team really has stepped up and showed him a plan to be a leader in the space.
The investment level has gone up 500% from the first half of 2006 to the second half of 2006. We now have R&D centers of excellence around the world. We talked about Taiwan, but we also now have a strong team in Korea. We've taken the Korean team and cycled 20 of the top Korean guys through our North American labs for them to gain the MIMO expertise. We have a team in China that we have set up as part of the global WiMAX team in addition to what we already have in Ottawa