WiMAX! WiMAX! Read all about it! As we continue to evaluate and expand on our WiMAX network here at Ball State,
we thought you might like to read more on where our WiMAX network started, and how far we have come! Just five years ago in 2005, Intel Corporation proclaimed Ball State University as the Nation’s Top Wireless Campus. Since then, Ball State has continually strived to test and utilize the newest wireless technologies. In 2006 and 2007, Ball State took advantage of our position in the world of wireless technology and aligned ourselves with key players in the broadband wireless industry. Using Alvarion’s BreezeMAX 3500 wireless hardware (pictured on right), including indoor and outdoor customer premises equipment (CPE), we became the first university to test and deploy fixed WiMAX in the United States!
Muncie, Indiana, provided the perfect environment for wireless testing. Our coverage area included a single sector with a 120-degree path that offered a range of approximately 1 mile for indoor CPE and 5 miles for outdoor CPE. Of course, the area of coverage varied depending on RF obstructions like vegetation and buildings. During the testing, Ball State looked to identify upload and download speeds at various locations, using indoor and outdoor CPE. Publishing our fixed WiMAX (802.16d) results in February 2007, we found that when using BreezeMAX equipment on a 3.5 MHz channel, we could receive speeds around 8Mbps using outdoor CPE, and 4Mbps using indoor CPE.
In mid-2008, the Center for Information and Communication Sciences (CICS) at Ball State was introduced to the Cisco Broadband Wireless Business Unit responsible for WiMAX. During that time, Ball State University was selected by Cisco to become the first domestic site to deploy, test, and map Mobile WiMAX (802.16e) in the United States. We then began to document the baseline performance of Smart Beamforming technology utilizing Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO) antennas. It was exciting for us to have an opportunity to utilize the Educational Broadband System (EBS) licensed frequency of 2.5 GHz and provide a platform for continuous testing.
Pre-test benchmarking for Mobile WiMAX later occurred in late 2008, early 2009 with a single base station antenna on top of an on-campus Dormitory. During this period, Cisco named Ball State the first domestic Early Field Trial (EFT) location for Mobile WiMAX! This has been an amazing opportunity for us; establishing a partnership that includes ancillary benefits on early equipment availability, testing and pricing. Subsequent testing expanded to include multiple P3 base stations and antennas (pictured on left), using Cisco’s AAA server and ASN gateways products.
As recent as late Fall of 2009, Ball State introduced a student usability study, allowing us to further analyze several aspects of our WiMAX network. Phase 1 includes students who live within a ½ mile radius of campus (click here to see our current coverage map). We provided selected students with free WiMAX enabled USB dongles (pictured on right).
In return, students are asked to participate in feedback surveys, providing information such as data transmission rates, downtime issues, and distance of successful and unsuccessful usage from campus. Later in the spring, we plan to move into Phase 2 where we will expand the test radius to 2 miles from campus, add more student users to the WiMAX network, utilize new P4 base stations and antennas operating at a 10 MHz channel width, and begin testing of third-party devices with embedded WiMAX chipsets. Devices we plan to test include (but are not limited to) USB dongles, laptops, netbooks, VoIP telephony, and GPS embedded devices.
Next week, we plan to give you insight as to how we find student testers! You would probably assume that if you told a college student they could get FREE wireless broadband Internet, they would jump right on the bandwagon right? Well, find out next week if it was actually that easy, or if we ran into any pushback!
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