updated 05:20 pm EDT, Wed October 7, 2009
Samsung kicks off Mobile WiMAX Release 2
Samsung at an ITU trade show late yesterday provided an initial look at second-generation WiMAX service. Known alternately as Mobile WiMAX Release 2 or 802.16m, the technology borrows multiple-in, multiple-out technology from modern Wi-Fi as well as makes better use of available wireless spectrum. The union should result in speeds about four times faster than current WiMAX networks.
In spite of the change, hardware should still be backwards-compatible with original WiMAX (802.16e) networks and would be relatively easy to upgrade for carriers. Some could need only a software update to speed up the connection, Samsung said.
Field tests of Release 2 won't start until late 2010 but should include US-based Clearwire as well as Japan's UQ Communications and Yota in Russia. Sprint wasn't mentioned but has regularly worked with Clearwire on sharing resources.
Current WiMAX service in the US runs between 3Mbps and 6Mbps in real-world conditions and would translate to speeds of 12Mbps to 24Mbps if Release 2 matches its promised performance boost. Accelerating the hardware to this level would give practical speeds roughly on par with those of the the competing Long Term Evolution (LTE) standard for 4G; Verizon estimates LTE should reach similar speeds when it launches in 2010.