Intel and a collection of other wireless component and equipment companies will announce on Tuesday an industry initiative to standardize and help push forward 802.16 broadband wireless.
According to sources involved with the announcement, the standards body will be similar in nature to WECA, now called the WiFi Alliance. The Alliance, an independent body, promotes and certifies 802.11a and 802.11b wireless LAN products for interoperability.
"The nature of the announcement is on standardizing outdoor wireless applications. "The IEEE engineering association puts out technology standards, while WECA or the WiFi alliance handles marketing and interoperability," a source familiar with the announcement said. "This is in regards to a similar type of structure (for 802.16)."
A spokesman for the WiFi Alliance declined to comment other than by calling the 802.16 industry group "complementary".
Tuesdays announcement is significant in solving the "last mile" problem, or the connection between the broadband Internet backbone and the home user. In metropolitan areas, 802.16 will serve as a rival to wired cable modems and DSL. But the technology will also be especially useful in rural markets, where local firms are unwilling or unable to route Internet infrastructure services to customers.
The "WirelessMAN" (Wireless Metropolitan Area Network) 802.16 technology will provide up to 50 kilometers of range without the need for line-of-sight connectivity. Currently, outdoor antenna manufacturers can provide 802.11b service through omnidirectional antennas up to approximately 26 km, according to Enkay, a wireless solutions provider. Directional antennas can increase the range to roughly 40 or so miles.
The 802.16 technology operates between 10 to 66 GHz, and the 802.16a extension, ratified in January, extends the frequency from 2 to 11 GHz. An 802.16b standard, currently being developed by a working group, would increase the spectrum allocated to 802.16 to between the 5- and 6-GHz spectrum bands with quality-of-service provisions.
Multichannel multipoint omnidirectional implementations of 802.16 will probably use the 2.1-2.7-GHz frequency spectrum and broadcast 50 km at data rates of 128 Kbits/s to 10-Mbits/s, sources said.