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August 24, 2007

Beceem's Chipsets Make Possible Mobile WiMAX

By Richard Grigonis, Executive Editor, IP Communications Group

Unlike a conventional mobile phone, the upcoming generation of smart phones and PDAs will merge telephone capabilities with those of PCs, such as e-ail, Internet access, unified messaging, and more. Until recently, the increased bandwidth necessary to provide these services could only be found at WiFi hotspots, all of which have limited range and accessibility.

With the appearance of WiMAX, however, high bandwidth mobile devices will become, shall we say, more mobile. For this to happen, of course, WiMAX (News - Alert) technology must be deployed, which means WiMAX chipsets must be developed and manufactured by companies such as Beceem (
Beceem is a four-year-old company that produces high performance chipset solutions for the Mobile WiMAX market and was the first to introduce terminal chipsets for the Wave 1 and Wave 2 WiMAX Forum profiles, based on the IEEE (News - Alert) 802.16e-2005 Mobile WiMAX standard.
Lars Johnsson, Beceem’s Vice President for Business Development, said: “We believe there’s quite a positive and indeed significant movement for WiMAX in the U.S. The Clearwire announcement that it’s working with Sprint (News - Alert) – or perhaps one should say the Sprint announcement that it is working with Clearwire – is a very positive one for the WiMAX space as a whole. So we’re very excited about that and I’d like to share our views over what this means for the industry and also what it means for the terminal ecosystem, in which we are intricately involved as a chipset maker.”
“We have from our inception have focused solely on 802.16e Mobile WiMAX chipsets only for terminals,” Johnsson said. “Until about a year ago we were the only company that exclusively focused on the Mobile WiMAX space. Many vendors, experts and providers saw Mobile WiMAX coming but they weren’t sure when and they’ve dabbled in multiple technologies but didn’t put a lot energy into their efforts.”
“Beceem has never had that problem,” said Johnsson. “The whole premise of the company is that, if WiMAX is coming along then you want to be the chipset maker in this space and you can’t afford to be confused with too many things patented in parallel. That philosophy has worked out very well. We currently on our third generation chipset in Mobil WiMAX. In December of last year we announced the availability of a Wave 2 compliant chip for WiMAX.”
Johnsson continued: “It’s not secret, but the industry working on WiMAX has split the feature set into two portions, one is called Wave 1 and the other is called Wave 2. That was done because there are so many features, and it is such a complicated technology. Therefore, it was felt generally that defining everything in WiMAX all at once, in one shot as it were, would be too ambitious a project. So it was divided into two separate, sequential efforts, Wave 1 and Wave 2.
Johnsson went on: “When people say, ‘I have Wave 2’ or ‘I am doing Wave 2 in WiMAX’, then they actually mean the whole thing, because Wave 2 is the second step. Sprint for example, has declared that they are launching with the full Wave 2 technology. They want to take advantage of all the smart antennae and MIMO (Multiple-input and multiple-output) technologies available in the network. That is only part of Wave 2, so everybody must get to that point as soon as they can, and we’re happy to say that we’re the first company to reach that level. Wave 2 is so important for the operators that care about MIMO and beam-forming and the smart antenna features to make WiMAX a significantly better technology than 3G. That’s why the operators are so focused on Wave 2.”
“As a consequence of having reached the Wave 2 level first with such products, we are enjoying a great traction with the big OEMs from the infrastructure side and various entities want to work and test with us,” Johnsson said. “Also, with terminal OEM makers, the guys who build PC USB dongles that integrate technology into PDAs and handsets and laptops. They want to use our chipset to build products that can be sold to Sprint and Clearwire.”
“WiMAX networking is also appearing Japan, Taiwan and South Korea,” Johnsson added. “It’s really beginning to gain a lot of momentum and these are good days for having a chipset for WiMAX technology.”
Beceem’s chipsets consist of a high-performance baseband IC and an integrated RFIC for implementing a full-bodied Mobile WiMAX Subscriber Station (MS) based on the IEEE 802.16e standard. They support integration of dual receive chains and a single transmit chain operating in a tightly coupled manner that delivers a cost-effective, low-power SIMO (single input multiple output) and MIMO (multiple input multiple output) MS solution.
The entire PHY, MAC, and RF functionality of a mobile WiMAX terminal is implemented by the chipset, and a minimal number of external components are required.
Beceem’s WiMAX chipsets will enable wireless smart phones and PDAs to extend their reach beyond basic wireless voice communication so that users can now watch TV, download money from their bank accounts to wirelessly pay for items at retail outlets, pay for road tolls by driving by a suitably-equipped reader, flip through pages of an e-book, play real-time online games with players around the world, and much more.

Green is the new black. At least, that’s the case in the communications industry where companies are finding that using green technology is not only good for the planet but good for business as well. Want to learn more about how being green can make money? Mark your calendar now for TMC’s (News - Alert) first annual Green Technology World Conference, Sept. 11-12, 2007 at the Los Angeles Convention Center in California. Preview the show schedule, speakers and exhibitors—then register to attend.

Richard Grigonis is an internationally-known technology editor and writer. Prior to joining TMC as Executive Editor of its IP Communications Group, he was the Editor-in-Chief of VON Magazine from its founding in 2003 to August 2006. He also served as the Chief Technical Editor of CMP Media’s Computer Telephony magazine, later called Communications Convergence (News - Alert), from its first year of operation in 1994 until 2003. In addition, he has written five books on computers and telecom (including the Computer Telephony Encyclopedia and Dictionary of IP Communications). To see more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.


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