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WIMAX and the Importance of Being Earnest

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Ok, so the real subject is being certified. As in "certified by the WiMAX Forum", or at least, its surrogate, AT4. Certification is going to be a must, but not for the reason that most people think. The actual certification test, which is performed using a document issued the WiMAX Forum's Certification Working Group (or GWG), tests interoperability between a base station, and a different vendor's subscriber modem or CPE device, and then repeats the same tests with another CPE from another vendor. The actual test document is the "CSRL", which is currently evolving to add more and more test cases and profiles (frequencies). The certification itself just says that the equipment passed the tests. It doesn't say that the equipment can interoperate automatically with all vendors, or using features that the CSRL doesn't test yet. So equipment vendors, such as my employer (Cisco), run interoperability test programs in their labs with favored partners to test the full suite of features. Cisco calls theirs the Cisco CCX program, and successfully uses it in WiFi. Service Providers either require their WiMAX network vendors to certify IOT with all CPE's they plan to deploy, or do their own testing (as cellular operators have for years). WiMAX Forum certification is a good start, and will eventually catch up in terms of test case coverage, providing a higher degree of certitude. But the real value is in enabling the use of indirect, retail sales channels to get devices into the hands of customers, without the service provider having to be involved in the transaction, and killing off subsidies once and for all. Marketing - that is the cost of acquiring a new subscriber - is usually the number 1 cost item on a service providers P&L. Removing the cost of buying, handling, advertising, selling, and eventually, provisioning the device for a new subscriber will slash the cost of a new subscriber addition by 80%. That's the real value of certification (and of Being Earnest)

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Beginner

At this moment, with small networks up to 5,000 customers, interoperability could be tested and put to more usable level only in Clearwire network. WiMAX Forum should provide more support to such efforts. Other interesting point could be to have large vendors making base stations and others making only CPEs. This will create equipment (terminal) market which will lead to greater WiMAX popularity.

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