silicon.com | Tuesday 19 April 2005
By Jo Best
It's good for outdoors, it's good for indoors and it's not bad for 3G
Intel's Mr WiMax – Scott Richardson, GM of the broadband wireless division – has been touting the possibilities of the long-range internet access technology beyond backhaul, claiming WiMax will make 100 per cent broadband more than just a fat-pipe dream.
With Intel releasing its first WiMax chipset, Rosedale, this week, Richardson claimed that the next one billion internet users will connect via wireless technologies such as WiMax. "There are places on the planet that may never actually see cable and DSL," he said.
While WiMax has been around for some years already, Richardson believes the drop in price and advent of 'plug and play' self-installation units will mean a boom for the technology, both for backhaul and in terms of supplying connectivity to homes and businesses.
"There are 100 trials in the pipeline for fixed WiMax," he said. "Most service providers are willing to explore the business model."
BT, for one, is already involved and has trialled WiMax in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and has received positive feedback from the experiment.
Chet Patel, GM of BT's wireless access group, said: "Eighteen months ago, it was all about getting broadband coverage to 100 per cent... We were scouring the globe to see what other operators were doing. The focus was on technology – which emerging technologies would work."
"We're very focused on the fixed [WiMax] and using the technology to infill any gaps."
Patel believes DIY WiMax units and WiMax for mobiles will be on the mainstream market sooner rather than later.
"We're very focused on the fixed access technology. It will be another year to two years before we get to the stage where the technology will be available. We're hoping in 18 months that a type of plug and play service will be more widely available."
However, while there has been murmuring from some quarters that the launch of Rosedale means as much for WiMax as the launch of Centrino did for Wi-Fi, Intel's Richardson was cautious on how far the technology has progressed.
"We're not there today – we’re in 1999 for WiMax," he said, adding that WiMax as the connectivity of choice for the majority is "some years out".
"Wherever you see Wi-Fi today, we envision you'll see WiMax tomorrow. Our vision is that Wi-Fi and WiMax go together from a technology point of view."
And, unlike some analysts, Richardson was coy about labelling WiMax a 3G killer. "We invest more on 3G silicon development than we do in WiMax right now," he said.
silicon.com | Universal broadband: BT targets trouble-spots | Wednesday 14 September 2005 | By Graeme Wearden
BT will begin a series of trials later this year to attempt to push broadband coverage in the UK closer to 100 per cent.
At present, around 0.2 per cent of people who are connected to an ADSL-enabled exchange can't actually get broadband. In some cases, this is because they live too far from the exchange for ADSL to work, or because their line quality is too poor. In other cases, it's because they are connected to their local exchange by legacy fibre-optic cables known as TPON (Telephony over Passive Optical Networks). TPON, unlike copper, can't carry an ADSL signal.
BT announced on Monday that over the next few months it will run trials aimed at resolving both problems. Trials in rural Yorkshire and Northern Ireland will put broadband DSLAM equipment into street cabinets close to subscribers and linked back to the exchange by fibre-optic cables. In effect, the cabinet becomes a digital extension of the exchange.
A second set of trials starts in December, and also connects local DSLAMs to exchanges via fibre-optic, in this case replacing TPON installations. TPON was rolled out by BT in the 1980s and early 1990s, typically to bring telephone services to new housing estates.
Back in 2003, BT announced it was planning to run copper alongside the TPON fibre links to allow ADSL signals to be supported. A BT spokesman explained on Tuesday that this copper overlay programme was continuing but that it did not address the needs of some people who are based a long way from their local exchange.
BT's trials will not address another issue holding the UK back from universal broadband, the fact that some of the most remote local exchanges remain incompatible with ADSL; BT has said technologies such as wireless rather than ADSL could play a part here.
Graeme Wearden write for ZDNet UK
WiMax will be key to BT's 21st Century Network project
June 09, 2004, 17:25 BST
BT's radical plan to upgrade its telecommunications network to cope with the demands of a converged world will rely on the latest wireless technologies
WiMax is set to play a major role in BT's 21st Century Network project -- the company's programme to upgrade the UK's telecoms infrastructure into a pure IP-based network.
Matt Beal, director of 21st Century Network implementation and strategy, told ZDNet UK on Wednesday that fibre and wireless will play an increased role in delivering broadband over the new network.
WiMax, also known as 802.16, is a high-speed wireless metropolitan area network (Wireless MAN) technology that provides broadband wireless connectivity to fixed, portable and nomadic users. It comes in two flavours -- 802.16d, which is used for fixed point-to-point networks, and 802.16e, which will support mobility.
BT is a member of the WiMax forum and is already testing 802.16d in four rural locations across Britain as a way of reaching people who cannot access its high-speed copper-based ADSL network.
ADSL coverage is expected to reach more than 99 percent by next year, leaving just a few hundred thousand homes and businesses who aren't connected to a broadband-enabled exchange.
Beal said that WiMax wouldn't just be used to fill these rural gaps, but could also have a role in metropolitan areas. He declined to elaborate further on plans for 802.11d, but his comments could be seen as referring to those people who live in an ADSL-enabled are but who can't get the technology because their phone line is too long or of too poor quality.
Beal also indicated that BT is investigating 802.16e. Under the 21st Century Network, BT will turn its existing telecommunications infrastructure into an IP-based network, and ditch its existing ATM and PSTN voice network. Earlier in the day Paul Reynolds, chief executive of BT Wholesale, explained that the 21st Century Network project was aiming to provide broadband anywhere in the UK. As BT no longer operates its own mobile network, building an 802.16e network is one way of plugging this gap.
BT sees DIY WiMax in 18 months
April 19, 2005, 12:25 BST
With Intel's Rosedale chip now out, the UK's incumbent telco predicts that it will soon be offering self-installation WiMax kit
BT could be offering self-installation kits for WiMax to businesses and home users with 18 months, the telco claimed on Tuesday.
Speaking at the UK launch of Intel's Rosedale WiMax chip, BT Retail's Chet Patel said that the company was looking to mimic the services already available on Wi-Fi and duplicate them for WiMax.
"For fixed broadband, they [self-installation kits] took 2 to 3 years", said Patel, a general manager for the telco. "Today is the start of it for WiMax. It will be a year to two year until the equipment and networks are available. We're hoping it will be 18 months until plug and play is available".
The launch of self-installation ADSL kits in January 2002 helped to drive the take-up of broadband in the UK, as users no longer had to pay for an engineer to visit their premises to install the service.
DIY WiMax could soon be a reality in Tokyo, where communications operator Yozan plans to roll out 600 WiMax base stations, which will be compatible with routers that users can apparently install themselves.
Intel's Rosedale chip, otherwise known as the Intel Pro/Wireless 5116 broadband interface device, is based on the IEEE 802.16-2004 standard. WiMax provides data links at distances of up to 30 miles at a maximum speed of 70Mbps.
If WiMax lives up to its promise, it could solve the dilemma of delivering high-speed Internet connections in areas where the cost of running suitable cables to homes and offices is prohibitively expensive.
Some pre-certified WiMax equipment is already available, but Patel believes the launch of Intel's chip should help to lower the cost of WiMax kit. "The announcement of Rosedale means we have more suppliers and vendors. There will also be lower costs coming through," Patel predicted.
Scott Richardson, general manager of Intel's Broadband Wireless Group, said he thought WiMax modems would fall in price from $500 (£262) to $200 or lower over the next few years. "Our view is we can get this below $200," he said.
At $200, WiMax modems would still be a much more expensive than ADSL, or even 3G datacards. However, they could make sense for those who need a very fast Internet connection, or who can't get other forms of broadband.
Richardson added that the WiMax Forum had begun testing WiMax equipment at its laboratory in Malaga, Spain.
"The WiMax Forum has opened labs for certification, and we're on the clock," said Richardson.
Intel and BT were speaking at a WiMax even at London Olympia.
ZDNet UK's Graeme Wearden contributed to this report
BT eyes up a WiMax future
February 20, 2004, 16:20 BST
WiMax is creating quite a stir in tech circles and BT is already using it to bring broadband to four rural locations. Could this be followed by a major rollout?
Four radio-broadband trials being conducted by BT in rural parts of the UK could be the prelude to a full-scale deployment of WiMax in Britain.
These trials involve broadband fixed access, with customers attaching a receiver to their houses, but the telco is very interested in the idea that more advanced versions of WiMax will support high-speed mobile broadband.
"If the potential benefits of WiMax, such as voice services and portability, are realised, then there might be a case for rolling out a WiMax service more widely," said Ian Robinson, head of emerging products at BT Retail, on Thursday.
As previously reported, BT's trials are taking place in Ballingry in Fife, Scotland, Pwllheli in Wales, Porthleven in Cornwall and Campsie in Northern Ireland.
Robinson, who was speaking at the IIR ISP Forum in London, said that BT hopes to launch its radio-broadband service in more rural areas -- although this will need subsidies from local government agencies.
But in the long-term, BT is eyeing up the possibility of offering WiMax services to more than just rural broadband-have-nots.
Its broadband fixed access trials use a version of WiMax known as 802.16d, but a more advanced version is also under development called 802.16e. It supports mobility and should allow laptops and PDAs to connect to a WiMax antenna from a distance of several kilometres, like a mobile phone talking to the nearest base station.
Intel is giving plenty of support to WiMax, in the same way that it aggressively backed Wi-Fi. The chip maker told ZDNet UK this week that it expects to produce 802.16 chips later this year, and that laptops including the technology could go on sale in 2006.
"We will have silicon on it certainly this year. You'll see 802.16 in notebooks, well, it's difficult to say. I think 2006. That's the timeframe I'm comfortable with," said Anand Chandrasekher, vice-president and general manager of Intel's Mobile Platforms Group.
And once users find themselves with a WiMax-enabled device, they'll be looking for a network to which to connect. "If all these laptops are going to be supporting WiMax, then the question for BT is 'who is going to be handling the network side?'," explained Robinson.
BT Dances Wireless Jig
Incumbent wireline operator BT Group plc (NYSE: BTY - message board; London: BTA) is to roll out a commercial wireless broadband network in Northern Ireland “this summer” using kit from Israeli vendor Alvarion Ltd. (Nasdaq: ALVR - message board), Unstrung can exclusively reveal.
The move follows the success of four trials earlier this year -- in Ballingry, Scotland; Pwllheli, Wales; Porthleven, England; and Campsie in Northern Ireland -- aimed at providing three months of wireless broadband access to 105 users in rural locations throughout the U.K.
“The trials have been very successful, and we will be launching a service on the back of them this summer,” says Ian Robinson, head of emerging markets at BT Retail. “We were successful in winning a large bid for Northern Ireland where the local government is looking for 100 percent broadband coverage. We will be achieving this with a combination of ADSL and our [wireless] product called radio broadband.”
Robinson states that its “radio broadband” service is based on Alvarion fixed wireless equipment and will potentially serve “several thousand” customers. “The rollout is for the whole of Northern Ireland... We will open up all the exchanges and use radio broadband as an infill [to those areas not served by fixed ADSL services]. We are very well advanced with our implementation plans.”
Alvarion could not be reached for comment by press time. The deal marks the vendor’s second Irish win (see Irish Broadband Loves Alvarion).
Robinson claims that the carrier is eager to extend the rural wireless service in an effort to reach its stated goal of “100 percent broadband coverage for every U.K. community by 2005,” but is dependent on subsidies from local government agencies.
“We want to take this further and are working on a number of other regional and local bids where there is a drive from local governments to deliver broadband in their area... The issue is that it costs more to serve the most rural places. If you are going to make the price the same for everyone, how do you cover that gap in cost? The answer at the moment is that someone else has to pay.”
Despite the recent hype surrounding the emergence of WiMax technology, BT is keen to stress that its Irish win should not be directly associated with the fixed wireless standard, at least until it is officially ratified (see Cisco Late to WiMax Party, WiMax Gets Serious, and A Conflicted MAN?).
“It isn’t WiMax,” states Robinson. “We have a proprietary solution with many of the capabilities you would expect to see from WiMax... Clearly we will migrate from our proprietary solution to a standards-based solution as soon as we can... The two main standards we are focused on are 802.16d -- the one we will migrate radio broadband to once it is ratified -- and 802.16e, which has mobility enhancements as a software upgrade.”
Supporters of the WiMax spec -- which is intended to provide high-speed wireless data services over distances of 30 miles or so -- love to talk up the spec. Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC - message board) is pushing it as a cable/DSL replacement, especially in areas that are difficult to wire up, while others envisage the technology as replacing everything from wireless LAN to third-generation cellular systems (see Intel's WiMax Drive and Intel's Got WiMax Headroom).
— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung
By Jo Best
Published: Monday 29 March 2004
100 per cent broadband has finally arrived
Northern Ireland puts its multimillions where its mouth is...
The Northern Ireland Executive announced today that it intends to live the dream of 100 per cent broadband with the news it has picked BT to supply the high-speed internet technology to every single home and business in the country.
The contract was awarded by the Northern Ireland Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) and means BT will ensure 100 per cent 512Kbps broadband access for anyone that wants it – however rural their location – right across the province by the end of 2005. The deal is a multimillion pound contract but no figure has been disclosed.
The expansion of Northern Ireland's broadband network will be no mean feat – currently, around 65 per cent of the country has access to the high speed service, compared to over 80 per cent of mainland Britain.
While Whitehall has drawn criticism for its less than prolific push for greater broadband accessibility, Northern Ireland aims to be a broadband tiger. Last year, it set a handful of aggressive targets for broadband accessibility, including 20 per cent take-up by businesses and 12 per cent by homes by the end of next year and to be the first UK region to have 100 per cent accessibility.
Announcing the move towards universal broadband coverage, Ian Pearson, Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment, said: "By the end of 2005 every household and every business... will have access to broadband at the same price. Local businesses will have the level playing field they need to compete in a global economy."
As well as being a boon to rural web users, the new scheme must have BT's chief exec polishing his crystal ball. He said in February that universal broadband would only ever get going with government funding and called on regional development agencies to get their wallets out or face an unconquerable digital divide of broadband haves and have-nots.
The drive to be a broadband pioneer won't end when the current target is achieved. The Northern Ireland Executive has also said that it intends to make sure there's universal 2Mbps coverage at "competitive prices" by the end of 2006.
As far back as May, the Executive used the buying power of the public sector to push overall fat pipe availability, using an aggregation scheme. Whitehall announced it was to follow suit earlier this month, with BT making it onto the shortlist of approved bidders.
Universal broadband appears to be a hot issue worldwide. Speaking on Friday, George Bush pledged "universal, affordable access" by 2007 – assuming the Texan wins himself another stint in the White House, of course.