To hear some pundits describe it, the earth shook when on Oct. 19 the International Telecommunications Union agreed to include WiMAX (actually, OFDMA) in the IMT-2000 set of standards.
Although the spin in some corners is that the decision puts WiMAX "on an equal footing" with 3G as a radio interface, these same analysts neglect to note that IMT-2000 is a radio interface for advanced wireless communication systems, which includesbut is not limited tomobile phones.
To gain some clarity, it is sometimes useful to consider how one might evaluate the same situation if the decision had gone the other way. In this case, I'd say first that excluding WiMAX would be very unfair to a technology that clearly has much merit and some very obvious applications. If WiMAX had not been included in the IMT-2000 standards, I think it would have been devastating to the technology.
Originally created to harmonize third-generation mobile systems and to increase opportunities for worldwide interoperability, the IMT-2000 family of standards will now support four different access technologies, including OFDMA (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access; includes WiMAX), FDMA (Frequency Division Multiple Access), TDMA (Time Division Multiple Access) and CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access).
My take on the situation is that the ITU decided that one technology (or two or even three) was not going to suffice for the wireless landscape of the future. Different applications will find different technologies more amenable. No one knows for sure which technology will, in the long run, deliver the top performanceso why not include all the viable ones?
And lest we forget, OFDM is a basic technology for numerous standards. Here are a few:
The wireless LAN radio interfaces IEEE 802.11a, g and HIPERLAN/2
- The digital radio systems systems DAB/EUREKA 147, DAB+, Digital Radio Mondiale, HD Radio, T-DMB and ISDB-TSB
- The terrestrial digital TV system DVB-T
- The terrestrial mobile TV systems DVB-H, T-DMB, ISDB-T and MediaFLO forward link
- The beyond 3G cellular communication systems Flash-OFDM and 3GPP Long Term Evolution LTE
- The Wireless MAN / Fixed broadband wireless access (BWA) standards IEEE 802.16 (or WiMAX) and HIPERMAN
- The Mobile Broadband Wireless Access (MBWA) standards IEEE 802.20, IEEE 802.16e (Mobile WiMAX) and WiBro
- The wireless Personal Area Network (PAN) Ultra wideband (UWB) IEEE 802.15.3a implementation by WiMedia Alliance's Ultra wideband