US Army to evaluate Mobile WiMax use

The U.S. Army is planning to spend several months evaluating Mobile Wimax, according to Samsung Electronics, which is supplying the equipment.

The U.S. Army's Communications Electronics Research & Development Engineering Center (CERDEC) will spend several months evaluating Mobile WiMax for possible military use, according to Samsung Electronics Co., which is supplying the equipment.

The center will study whether the Army can use Mobile WiMax equipment in a military environment and measure, among other things, the performance of the system with both mobile users and mobile base stations, Samsung said.

Mobile WiMax is a version of WiMax designed to provide high-speed broadband connections for users while they are on the move. The army's tests will take place at the Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) On-The-Move experimentation facility, in Fort Dix, New Jersey, the South Korean company said.

Further details of the tests or the nature of the deal between Samsung and the U.S. military were not available.

Officials from the U.S. Department of Defense visited Korea last October and were given a demonstration of WiBro, a subset of WiMax, local Korean media reported at the time. The Hankook daily newspaper said a deal between Samsung and the U.S. military could be worth around much as US$3 billion.

Samsung is moving aggressively into the emerging Mobile WiMax market and has won contracts to supply networks in a number of countries including Brazil and Venezuela. In the U.S. it is one of the companies supplying equipment to Sprint Nextel Corp., and it has also helped build a network in South Korea based on WiBro.

At the 3GSM show in Barcelona this year Samsung demonstrated a version of WiMax that can transport data at double the speed of current systems. The "Mobile WiMax Wave 2" system uses MIMO (multiple input multiple output) technology and smart antennas to realize speeds of around 34M bps (bits per second) from the network to the user and about 8M bps in the opposite direction. MIMO involves sending data using multiple antennas to increase data throughput.

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Martyn Williams

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