The 802.16 standard was first available on April 8, 2002 after two years in development. The WiMAX Forum was formed in April of 2001 and established in June of 2001. This order might seem odd, but it’s common to shape certification bodies before completing or passing a standard. The Wimax certification will certify that a technology is compliant with Wimax specifications not 802.16. This is because the WiMAX Forum created a certification that is compatible with a portion of the 802.16 standard. Wimax certified hardware should be compatible with other WiMAX certified hardware, but it is important to remember that WiMAX certified hardware not necessarily compatible with 802.16 compliant hardware.
The founding organizations of the WiMAX Forum included Wi-LAN, Ensemble, CossSpan, Harris, and Nokia. The OFDM Forum and Fujitsu joined in 2002. In 2003, Aperto, Alvarion, Airspan, Intel, Proxim, and others joined the group. At this time, the forum has over 200 members with representatives from service providers, system manufacturers, chip vendors, and business organizations. The major focus of this group is to provide interoperability between vendors’ Wimax hardware. (Tom Carpenter, 2006)
In January 2005, at a WiMAX conference called “WiMAX: beyond the Hype,” Gordon Antonello clearly stated that
- There are no WiMAX networks today.
- There are no WiMAX form certified products available today.
- WiMAX Forum certified testing will begin later this year in 2005.
- Vendors are shipping pre-Wimax products today.
These statements are essential for us to understand that Wimax is brand new and any existing 802.16 compliant hardware might, or might not work with future Wimax Forum Certified hardware. However, some vendors are promising to provide upgrades through firmware or chip replacements to meet the Wimax specifications.
The Wimax Forum began their lab trials in the third quarter of 2005 and field trials in the fourth quarter of 2005. General production deployments are expected in 2006 as true Wimax Forum Certified equipment enters the marketplace.
The final standard being implemented in hardware systems today will support the 802.16-2004 specification of the IEEE. Vendors are building their hardware to this specification and then sending that same hardware to the Wimax Forum for certification.