The 3rd Global WiMAX Summit authorized by the WiMAX Forum was successfully held in Beijing, in September 2007. In attendance were a range of high level industry experts from carriers, vendors, government officials, and research institutes. Discussion focused on the global WiMAX deployment and its convergence with 3G, and the search for methods of combining industry chain strengths to effectively guarantee the global popularization of WiMAX.
As we know, WiMAX possesses unique superiority in a range of ways such as remote transmission, high-speed broadband access and multimedia communication. WiMAX has entered the application phase, and has already been successfully commercialized by some mainstream operators. In China, 3G is drawing nearer, and the mass testing and deployment of WiMAX has gradually begun.
At the 3rd Global WiMAX Summit, three experts: Mo Shakouri(Vice President of the global WiMAX Forum), Hyun-Pyo Kim( Director of the WiMAX Unit, KT) and Cai Liqun(Ex-President of Huawei WiMAX Product Line, is now in charge of Core Network Product Line of Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd.)offered their views.
WiMAX looking ahead to prosperity
Mo Shakouri: The outcome of our research in the U.S. indicates that wireless broadband will emerge as consumers' largest communications expenditure, and this reflects a considerable shift necessitating much investment. The WiMAX industry offers significant opportunities as current technology and networks have not yet been fully applied. We know that in some emerging and developed countries broadband forms a precursor for increased GDP, economic activity and social value - this is why WiMAX possesses such enormous global development potential.
Cai Liqun: WiMAX has already entered a critical phase. In addition to traditional operators, there are many new operators focusing on WiMAX, such as ISPs. This fully reflects the industry's expectation regarding All-IP based mobile broadband applications. Currently, most operators select wireless access to underpin WiMAX breakthrough, and our mission is to help them meet existing market demands for wireless broadband access so as to realize the WiMAX global strategy, accelerate the industry's development, and lay a solid foundation for future mobile WiMAX development.
Mo Shakouri: WiMAX is a supplemen- tary rather than competitive technology. Though it differs from the Internet in terms of its business model, WiMAX is rich in value. It can meet users' demands for wireless broadband technology, and the number of users is certain to grow at a rapid rate. This achievement has arisen through unstinting efforts made over the past 5 years.
At present, many operators are investing heavily and orienting themselves to the future, and this trend is anticipated in the WiMAX industry. New capabilities and functions are being added to cellular networks, one of which is WiMAX, not least because of its extra broadband and Internet-based capabilities. We therefore believe that both cellular networks and WiMAX will grow rapidly over the long term to reach maturity. Of course, compared with cellular networks, WiMAX is still in its infancy.
Over the next 5 years, however, WiMAX wireless Internet technology is set to take its seat as a significant contributor to global broadband interconnection. We're committed to assist operators fully utilize WiMAX to increase profit streams, while allowing users better broadband and content access. Users who demand more bandwidth are not just concerned with bandwidth itself, but with the derived subsequent content.
Win-win industrial chain cooperation
Hyun-Pyo Kim: KT Wibro has enjoyed considerable success in terms of WiMAX operations. Our first advantage is that we have a range of equipment available for end users, including terminals. Secondly, we've priced our products at an affordable level, for example, the promotional price set for 1G capacity is only USD10. Thirdly, we offer the best quality - compared with existing 3G networks, mobile WiMAX offers the highest uplink and downlink speeds. In addition, we benefit from an open IP-based platform to support converged services, Internet access, and mobile Triple-play services.
After receiving our WiMAX license in January 2005, we began deploying the network in some areas before embarking on wide urban coverage including 17 universities, the suburban campuses for which were joined under the scheme. This was complemented by large-scale promotional and marketing activities prior to its real commercialization in April 2007. Since then we've completed implementation, our network continues to grow, and will soon be supported by the performance enhancing MIMO.
Cai Liqun: To equipment vendors, helping operators achieve fast and low-cost WiMAX networking is an important factor that requires consideration. We know a common problem that operators face is website acquisition and, in view of WiMAX's high bandwidth and band utilization, operators are mostly concerned with issues such as identifying ways of reducing the number of WiMAX websites and how to utilize existing 2G & 3G resources effectively to minimize auxiliary investment. The WiMAX standard is developing and progressing at a steady rate, which requires us to provide a cost-effective platform of products capable of supporting a smooth evolution that protects operators' current investments.
The convergent solution is a key concern for both mobile and fixed operators. Integrating WiMAX with existing NGN and ADSL networks must be realized to offer a wired and wireless convergent network solution, so as to lay a solid foundation for the future strategy of FMC deployment. Achieving this goal is primarily a concern for fixed network operators. Mobile operators, on the other hand, are mostly concerned with giving end users low-cost multimedia service experiences anywhere, anytime by combining WiMAX with 2G & 3G networks to maximize the interworking of their respective advantages. Therefore, our convergent solution must aim at providing a unified service experience for end users through unified services and platforms, unified core networks, unified billing systems and authentication management organization - this would maximally reduce costs for existing operators in a manner that adheres to business convergence.
Mo Shakouri: A crucial issue regarding WiMAX is the authentication of its standard. The first authentication laboratory was set up in Spain in August 2005 and the second in South Korea. We're also establishing laboratories successively in the US, mainland China, and Taiwan, and we're planning a laboratory for Japan. So far, some of the products have already passed authentication, and notebook computer will do so soon. Much more equipment will be authenticated in the year 2009. In WiMAX authentication, equipment represents the ripest portion among all, and surely is a most important portion.
Cai Liqun: The most essential factor for deciding the maturity of the WiMAX industry and its future growth pace should be its required large scale, diversification, and low cost terminals. The demands of different operators vary depending on the stage of WiMAX development and, since our applications mainly rely on fixed and nomadic equipment, the requirements for CPE and PC cards presently dominate. However, mobile WiMAX development will see mobile and multi-mode terminals integrate WiMAX with existing 2G & 3G networks, and these will inherit the mainstream position. In the future, WiMAX, IT and electronic product convergence will bring greater convenience and enjoyment for users. Of course, such preconditions must occur on a suitably wide scale and be underpinned by low cost, diversified terminals and cutting-edge chipsets.
Hyun-Pyo Kim: There are various terminal devices that people currently use based on specific market demands, but multi-mode equipment is set to dominate the market. Some products are already available such as typical mobile devices including Portable Media Player (PMP) with embedded portable PC. Additionally, other electronic equipment such as some digital cameras already integrates WiMAX.
Latest progress across the globe
Mo Shakouri: Global WiMAX development presents a gratifying situation. First if we consider spectrum features, the main WiMAX spectrum allocations include 2.3-2.7GHz and 3.5GHz. The WiMAX network spectrum already covers 2.7 billion people, which is hugely exciting. We must strive to obtain more bandwidth as in some areas operators still share a bandwidth of only 10MB. We hope to help them increase bandwidth and thus accelerate business growth by establishing a viable WiMAX mechanism with an enormous customer base. This will facilitate the efficient operation of the WiMAX value chain.
It is well known that Sprint-Nextel has developed many exemplary services and KT provides another model example, having deployed WiMAX, and covering 2,500,000 users. This is only the start as WiMAX is being currently developed in a host of countries including Pakistan, Chile, Russia and Brazil.
Cai Liqun: Since 2006, Huawei has been strengthening WiMAX expansion in the context of a global market platform. So far we've already communicated with over 100 operators across the globe to discuss the progress regarding the WiMAX standard, as well as the technology, construction and operations. We've already established 30 trial laboratories in the Asia-Pacific, the Middle-East, North-Africa, Europe, Russia, the US, and Latin America, and we're currently constructing 8 WiMAX commercial systems.