WiMax update set for go-ahead this year

The 802.16m standard will speed data transfers and enhance user security

A faster, more secure and energy-efficient update to the WiMax wireless Internet standard will get final approval and see commercialization within a year, industry officials said on Monday.

An international committee tasked with WiMax development will finalize the standard’s IEEE 802.16m version in March following technical meetings in Taipei this week. It would be put into use at the end of this year or the beginning of 2012.

Final approval of 802.16m will let manufacturers pre-install the not-quite-4G standard that can operate at a frequency of 20 Mhz, twice that of the existing 802.16e, developers said in Taipei. That would enable signals to carry double the amount of network traffic, which has increased with the use of iPhones and other handheld devices.

“By doubling the bandwidth, of course you can work at much higher data rates,” said Rakesh Taori, vice chair of the professional association IEEE’s 802.16 working group.

The updated standard, which has been under development for five years, will increase security for users, including protecting the privacy of their locations, Taori added. It will also help smartphones conserve more power when in idle or sleep mode, he said.

Smartphones and any kind of computer, tablets included, can use 802.16m. The update will still be compatible with 802.16e, which came about in 2005, he said. The latest standard should not raise wireless subscription rates on common users as carriers will want it to speed up their networks anyway, he said.

Taiwan’s government-funded Industrial Technology Research Institute is working on ways to extend 802.16m to the 10 local companies with WiMax interest, said Song Ting-chen, an engineer with the institute. Possible takers are Acer, HTC and Foxconn, Song said.

“That way we’ll be able to exercise our competitiveness in terms of patents or our manufacturing,” Song said. “Some of our contributions have already been accepted by the international community.”

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