posted on July 08, 2011 04:40
WiMAX2 has moved out of the lab and impressed the Japanese media and visitors with a trial in Tokyo with up to 140 mbps download throughput in a 20 MHz channel in the 2.6 GHz band, with 4x4 MIMO. UQ Communications worked with the long-term vendor Samsung in preparation of a WiMAX2 network deployment that will start as soon as UQ secures an additional spectrum allocation.
This was the first WiMAX2 trial (others are expected in the near future) that measured real-time and average throughput during a drive test. Although the network was often at around 140 mbps, I was not fast enough to capture this with my camera (photo below), but the Japanese press did a much better job (see
here and here). The test showed very good performance of four concurrent HD video streams transmitted alongside best-effort traffic. Within a 300m radius, the downstream throughput was in most cases above 100 mbps. Within 500m, the downlink throughput was typically around 40 mbps. In this type of environment and for a capacity-driven deployment like UQ's a radius of 300m is more likely, so the WiMAX2 network will provide a substantial increase in capacity density over the current WiMAX network, also in the 2.6 GHz band, but using 10 MHz channels.
The demo also included a nice comparison among technologies available today shown in the monitor photo below, namely WiMAX (top left), HSPA (bottom), and LTE (top right), showing a downlink speed for 5.2 mbps for WiMAX, 3.7 mbps for LTE, and 2.1 mbps for HSPA in commercial networks. [The downlink capacity is split among all devices connected to the sector, and so these results do not only reflect the overall sector capacity. Instead they are also affected by the number of active devices and the traffic they generate, which means that networks like WiMAX and HSPA which have been available for a longer time and support on average more subscribers are relatively penalized in comparison to the LTE network which has still fewer subscribers].
Interestingly--and in a departure from the cellular upgrade model-- UQ plans to introduce dual mode devices that support WiMAX2 ahead of launching the WiMAX2 network. This approach will allow UQ to seamlessly and gradually enable its subscribers to use the additional WiMAX2 capabilities as soon as they become available, without the need of a massive device replacement and subscriber education program. As we have shown in
this paper, it is very advantageous for WiMAX operators to introduce multi-mode devices ahead of the deployment of a new network, as this enables an organic (and less expensive) transition of subscribers and a less hurried network deployment.
The big push to WiMAX2 comes from UQ's need for more capacity to meet the increasing data traffic load. Today, the average UQ subscriber generates 7 GB/month. By 2015, UQ expects the traffic per subscriber to have grown to 10 GB/month, and to have a much higher subscriber count (UQ has just reached the 1 million subscriber mark, and has a target of 2 million subscribers by March 2012). At this rate of growth, UQ predicts that the current network will become fully loaded during the 2012 fiscal year (starting in March 2012).
UQ is taking its technological leadership to the international stage further by promoting closer collaboration among WiMAX operators to encourage further growth in the ecosystem, to coordinate efforts to move to WiMAX2, and to enable seamless international roaming. During the trial results announcements, UQ and YTL (a relatively new, innovative operator from Malaysia with a great vision validated by the fast acquisition of 300K subscribers) signed a MoU to deepen their collaboration and, eventually, work towards a pan-Pacific WiMAX hot area. In Tokyo this week, Asia has proved itself again as the fastest moving and most innovative WiMAX market.