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September 26, 2007

WiMax World: Revving up

Posted by Tricia Duryee at 11:06 AM

CHICAGO -- The energy here at McCormick Place has cranked up today, the first day of WiMax World.

wimaxworldsign.jpg

Yesterday, the show had a pre-conference day that seemed mild and subdued for an industry on the cusp of rolling out its first commercial networks.

That changed today with this morning's keynotes.

Sean Maloney, an executive vice president at Intel who was being called the father of WiMax, opened up his presentation with an energizing video called "WiMax Love."

He said that WiMax should aim for global domination, just as the cellphone industry went after the whole world.

"It's a dangerous time. We've come a long way from our pioneering work and from standards setting," he said. "We are at the deployment stage, and this is where the race is going to be won or lost over the next year or two."

He listed four challenges that the industry must address:

-- Performance of WiMax networks.
-- Applications must have the capability of the Internet. The Interent is not going to re-optimize everything for smaller devices, so the mobile industry must optimize for the Internet
-- Keep costs low. The chips should be $30 and the customer shouldn't have to pay more than $30 a month.
-- Make things easy to use. Everyone must be able to figure out how to use it.

Maloney's keynote was followed by Barry West, chief technology officer at Sprint Nextel.

He said that WiMax is like a horse out of the stable and running around the track. "There's no other horse in sight," he said.

West said WiMax is definitely in the lead ahead of other technologies. The closest one is LTE, or long-term evolution, which is an adaption from the GSM world -- the technology used by T-Mobile USA and AT&T's wireless division.

Motorola Chief Technology Officer Padmasree Warrior concluded the keynotes.

She said WiMax is much better than existing 3G wireless broadband technologies. She said WiMax has three times better performance and two times the spectrum efficiency at half the cost.

As an example of an application used on a WiMax network, she gave a demonstration. She said YouTube is great, but unfortunately it is in the past -- everything on it is already old news. With WiMax you can make it real-time.

Using a software application that looked like instant messenging, she shared a TV session with some colleagues at Motorola's Schaumburg, Ill.,headquarters, while having live chat sessions, such as a video conference.

Although the demo involved viewing the Discovery channel, you can imagine it might be more compelling with a live football game.

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Tricia Duryee
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