THE WRAP: Wimax must find its voice

09 Jul 2008

It was the week that saw demand for voice on Wimax and Wi-Fi, as well as spectrum harmonization in Europe and Blackberry security fears allayed in India, while 3G iPhone hype reached fever pitch ahead of Friday's Asia launch.

It's been said for some time now that voice may be a crucial element to Wimax rollouts, and that's turning out to be the case in Korea, where WiBro has not been drawing really big subscriber numbers.

According to, ROA Group analyst Ku Kang says WiBro lacks a killer app, and VoIP could be just the thing - provided legal issues can be overcome. In fact, says ROA, WiBro will need voice if it wants to compete against HSDPA and LTE.

In related news, as voice becomes more and more prevalent over Wi-Fi, the Wi-Fi Alliance said this week it will start a certification program to ensure quality voice over Wi-Fi links. The alliance says it's starting the Wi-Fi Certified Voice-Personal program in response to analyst forecasts of between 250 and 350 million Wi-Fi/cellular phones shipping in 2011.

In other Wimax news for the week, the European Commission issued new regs pertaining to the 2.6 GHz band that allow regulators to be flexible when it comes to the amount of FDD (paired spectrum) and TDD (unpaired spectrum) bands they can award to operators. The intention is to allow the market to decide which technology to deploy in the 2.6 GHz band. The Wimax Forum endorsed the new rules, chiefly because previous rules were more rigid and, according to the forum, tipped the scales in favor of LTE in the band rather than Wimax.

In other Wimax news, Malaysian Wimax licensee Asiaspace awarded Huawei Technologies with a contract to supply the company with an end-to-end Wimax solution. Asiaspace aims to roll out its service in the third quarter of this year, covering 25% of the population in Peninsular Malaysia by year-end, and 40% of the Malaysian population by 2010.

In security news for the week, the row in India over the security risks of BlackBerry services shifted in favor of RIM after India's Telecom Ministry said it doesn't see any security threat from BlackBerry email services, and operators did not need the ministry's approval to offer such services. The row started after security agencies warned that militants could use Blackberry to send untraceable emails, prompting the government to demand that RIM install servers in India to help monitor traffic. RIM said the request was infeasible.

The week's Big Deals included a partnership between CSR and Skyhook Wirelesson Wi-Fi positioning technologies to make CSR's Wi-Fi ICs location-aware, and a tech alliance between JRC and ArrayComm to develop base station radio head products using ArrayComm's multi-antenna signal processing technology, including beam-forming and interference cancellation for MIMO.

Meanwhile, with just over a month to go before the Beijing 2008 Olympics, iPass expanded its Wi-Fi roaming coverage in China through a partnership with Coordinate Technologies Communication Limited (CTCL), a systems integrator that provides the Wi-Fi roaming hub for Chinese carriers. The CTCL deal adds 600 hot spots to iPass' China footprint initially, and that will expand to 1,600, for a total of 2,500 iPass hot spots in mainland China and Hong Kong, iPass says.

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