'Covered Campus' looks to be the first logical use of WiMAX

Today, Taiwan's Tatung University became the first university campus to be covered entirely by Mobile WiMAX (802.16e). The wireless broadband network launched today, and is accessible by more than 4,000 students and professors.

Considering analysts' suggestions that WiMAX is best used for fixed networks, and the opinion of industry leaders that it is not a viable mobile wireless standard, Tatung's experimental network could be the first wise and thoughtful deployment of the misunderstood mobile standard.

The network, like the one Clearwire is building in Silicon Valley, is intended to serve as a platform for research and development and stimulate creative minds into developing products that utilize its functionality.

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Alcatel-Lucent provided the wireless infrastructure, and in today's press conference, such companies as Accton Wireless Broadband, ASUSTeK, China Television, dmedia, D-Link, Gemtek, Intel Taiwan, Polycom Asia Pacific PTE, MOXA Technologies, Quanta Microsystems, and ZyXEL Communications announced their participation in the project.

X86 chipmaker Via Technologies announced it would be contributing its OpenBook WiMAX netbooks to the project, the chassis reference design was open-sourced by Via last year, and includes space for WiMAX, HSDPA, EV-DO, W-CDMA, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and AGPS radios.

Today's network launch displayed some of the banner functions of mobile WiMAX, such as its ability to deliver consistent indoor signals, mobile and handover coverage, as well as beamforming. Like the ill-fated Municipal Wi-Fi networks attempted by Earthlink which were scrapped last year, the first WiMAX deployments in the United States attempt to cover a large metropolitan area.

The Tatung University network, however, follows the model that proved to be more successful in deploying community-level Wi-Fi, and that is the smaller area with denser network coverage.

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