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802.16e Mobile WiMax Enhancements Approved

The improvements will dramatically increase capacity of WiMax networks.

With some WiMax networks beginning to show signs of reaching capacity, the WiMax Forum has approved a series of improvements for the high-speed wireless technology that will dramatically improve its capacity.

Announced Wednesday at a meeting of the WiMax Forum Global Congress in Amsterdam, the improvements call for improved spectral efficiency of as much as 70% and an associated potential doubling of peak data rates. The improvements are based on the 802.16e Mobile WiMax standard.

The improvements were adopted by WiMax service providers and components manufacturers as well as by device makers.

The improvements may be coming in the nick of time for U.S. consumers as Sprint, the leading WiMax provider through its majority ownership of Clearwire, is already feeling pressure to beef up its network.

"On average, our mobile 4G customers are consuming more than seven gigabytes of data every month," said Ron Marquardt, VP of technology for Clearwire, in a statement. "We're committed to constant innovation and these enhancements to the 802.16e standard will increase our ability to meet the incredible demand for super-fast mobile Internet both in the home and on the go."

Additional enhancements approved by the WiMax Forum include increased data uplinks and downlinks for devices on the outer edge of WiMax cells that can also enable carriers to increase coverage of certain cells. Also approved were new technologies for reducing signal interference.

The enhancements will be generally available through software upgrades, although some improvements may also be delivered by adding antennas to base stations.

The WiMax Forum said the improvement proposals were created by experts from Alvarion, Beceem, Clearwire, Fujitsu, GCT Semiconductor, Hitachi, Huawei, Intel, Motorola, NEC, Samsung, Sequans, UQ, and ZTE.

"WiMax and [orthogonal frequency division multiplexing, or] OFDM technology are well suited to address a diverse set of application demands," said Fred Gabbard, VP of product management, Motorola Networks. "Beamforming, interference cancellation, and other advanced performance enhancements allow operators to increase the number of users, data volume, and peak rate supported by a given amount of radio spectrum. Overall, there is an increased need for spectral efficiency and that's what 802.16e Enhanced delivers."

The WiMax Forum said it expects validation of the new enhancements should take place before the end of this year with certified products expected to appear beginning next year.

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