Here’s something that might pique the attention of cable operators considering WiMAX as a fourth-generation mobile wireless technology – not that we’re aware that that’s going through the minds of any MSO audience members. Nortel has taken what some might consider an overkill step by using MIMO – that’s an antenna talk for Multiple In-Multiple Out – to double the bandwidth available via conventional WiMAX transmissions in a mobile cell configuration. Ultimately, MIMO will be available in both devices and transmission points as part of the WiMAX Forum Wave 2 certification platform; Nortel just jumped the gun by using Uplink Collaborative WiMAX to demonstrate its point. "The collaborative MIMO doesn’t require any specific capabilities in the terminal, doesn’t even need a MIMO-enabled terminal," said Bruce Gustafson, director of WiMAX marketing at Nortel. "As long as there is a WiMAX device, the collaborative MIMO will do its thing." And why, pray tell, should any reader of this newsletter care? Because WiMAX is being positioned as fourth generation – or 4G as the cool folks call it – mobile wireless by nontraditional mobile providers who haven’t been part of the first, second and third generations of traditional mobile technology like EV-DO (Evolution Data Only/Optimization) or UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System). Mobile WiMAX appeals to wireline carriers who aren’t in lock step with their mobile partners or don’t have mobile partners; a new generation of fixed wireless providers; and cable operators, although there’s been no overt cable interest in WiMAX outside that shown by mobile joint venture buddy Sprint Nextel. Defending 4G WiMAX Gustafson used Sprint Nextel’s interest to justify his own definition of WiMAX as 4G mobile, huffing, "We aren’t the only ones that apply the 4G label. Sprint, in their 4G network architecture, has WiMAX as the fundamental wireless capability." Sprint may be a red herring, hiding the real forces in the mobile WiMAX space. "MIMO OFDM-based (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing, a key ingredient in every broadband wireless play) is attractive to the nonmobile operators, new entrants but not new companies," he said. "This is what brings the wireline provider into the wireless space, the cable industry content owners. There’s quite a list of big network owners that want to enter a wireless broadband space, and WiMAX is the point they’re choosing to come in." Oh MI of MI oh MO. – Jim Barthold

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