WAVE Report

WCA 2003
By James Sneeringer
Wave Issue 0326 8/4/03

July 8-11

Washington, DC


The Wireless Communications Association (WCA) is in the middle of
a major transition, mirroring the industry it represents. The
transition in fixed wireless is from private technology and
licensed high-frequency bands, to standards and unlicensed lower-
frequency bands. It manifested itself as two distinct camps at
the 2003 WCA conference in Washington, DC. The old WCA talked
MMDS spectrum reallocation and license rights; the new WCA
dominated the expo floor with announcements, new products, and
momentum. It is apparent where the Association is heading--IEEE
802.16a in the unlicensed bands. The future of broadband
wireless access is the WiMAX Forum.

The shadow of Wi-Fi looms over all of wireless networking,
including the WCA. The success of 802.11 WLAN under the current
telecom economic conditions is a testament to the power of
unlicensed spectrum. The fixed wireless industry has gotten the
message. Today, to a start-up fixed wireless company, the idea of
getting an FCC license in the US seems absurd--just build it in
the 2.4 or 5 GHz band and sell it. In fact, many of the 5GHz
point to point fixed wireless solutions on the market today are
based on the 802.11a standard.

With the success of the movement at the recently concluded World
Radio Conference (WRC) to expand the outdoor-use 5GHz bands
worldwide, the amount of spectrum BWA companies have to work with
has increased. The 802.16a standard, also recently approved, has
the support of numerous vendors, and an interoperability
certification already in the works from the WiMAX Forum. The
802.16a chipset announcement by Intel throws tremendous weight
behind the standard, the WiMAX forum, and the BWA industry as a
whole. As Zvi Slonimski, CEO of Alvarion announced: the WiMAX
train is leaving the station, and there is plenty of room on

Keynote: Customers, Services, and Strategic Opportunities

At the opening session, Ron Resnick, General Manager of Intel
Broadband Wireless Access, announced that Intel was going to be
manufacturing 802.16a compliant silicon components in volume. At
the same session, Zvi Slonimski, CEO of Alvarion, announced that
his company has signed an agreement with Intel, to both validate
the Intel silicon, and then produce products based on it. Reza
Ahy, CEO of Aperto Networks, announced that Aperto is considering
Intel to be the silicon supplier for their 802.16a line.

Intel is a member of the WiMAX forum, and Ron stated that they
would seek WiMAX certification for their products when they
become available, but he declined to state when that would be.
In a later forum, though, Mohammed Shakouri of Alvarion stated
that they expect to have products based in Intel silicon ready
for WiMAX interoperability testing by early 2004. For more on
this announcement, see Story of the Issue in WAVE0323.

Ron also stated that Intel is looking for 1 billion broadband
connections worldwide, as an eventual goal. Currently they agree
with IDC forecasts of broadband subscriber growth from 59 million
in 2002 to 210 million in 2006, all technologies worldwide. From
Intel's own research, they believe the 2006 access technology
market share will be 59% DSL, 30% cable, 10% wireless, and 1%
fiber. Zvi expanded on the growth concept--the inflection point
for fixed wireless broadband is now, he stated. He laid out the
four conditions that demarcated this point:

- 802.16a represents an accepted, established industry standard;
- Regulators continue to allocate additional licensed and
unlicensed spectrum;
- The technology exists to compete with wireline quality and
cost; and
- There is demand from large operators to fill areas under-served
by wired broadband.

The FCC Looks to the Future of Wireless

Two consecutive panels on Monday featured a variety of FCC
officials addressing the Commission's plans for broadband
wireless access (BWA), current and future spectrum management,
and nascent technologies. The second panel featured the Legal
Advisors to all five of the Commissioners on one panel, debating
the issues. It was like an FCC session by proxy. The first
session featured representatives from Wireless Telecom Bureau,
Office of Engineering and Technology (OET), and Office of
Strategic Planning and Policy.

John Muleta, Chief of the Wireless Telecom Bureau started the
first panel by stating that the Spectrum Policy Task Force drew
the road map for future spectrum opportunities. The issue is not
the amount of spectrum that exists, but rather access to what is
available. The FCC will be looking to encourage flexible, more
efficient uses of existing spectrum. James Schlichting, Deputy
Chief of the OET, stated that the OET's focus in wireless in the
near future will be broadband services over unlicensed spectrum,
and developing technologies such cognitive radios. The Office of
Strategic Planning and Policy, according to Deputy Chief Kathleen
O'Brien Ham, is focusing on how it can reduce transaction costs
associated with moving spectrum to its highest and most efficient
use. These costs include heavy regulatory processes, and the
uncertainty that currently surrounds the idea of secondary
spectrum markets. These are markets that will allow spectrum
lessees and prospective new users, to deal directly, without
going through the FCC--a market, rather than command, style of
spectrum management. The structure and procedures for those
markets are still totally up in the air, and the Kathleen (and
her Office) are asking for all the input that they can get.

What about current spectrum licensees and investors who are
critical of the Task Force findings and the uncertainty they
create? John Muleta responded:

The Task Force was about discovering technical capabilities,
not rights. Before we can talk about rights we must know
what the capabilities are. Wall Street is historically poor
at picking winners of tomorrow; they want the winner right
now. The technologies are already coming to the fore--we
cannot ignore them.

Several questions focused on the MMDS spectrum re-location under
progress at the FCC. James stressed that while it is proceeding
at the OET, the bands are only one part of a complex spectrum
picture. A reasonable target for completion is one year from the
NPRM (which would February 2004). Kathleen emphasized that re-
location spectrum will be provided to MMDS licensees, hopefully
lessening some of the uncertainty created by the process.

The second panel, "View from the 8th Floor," consisted of:

Bryan Tramont, Senior Legal Adviser, Chairman Powell
Barry Ohlson, Legal Adviser, Commissioner Adelstein
Jennifer Manner, Senior Counsel, Commissioner Abernathy
Samuel Feder, Legal Adviser, Commissioner Martin
Paul Margie, Legal Adviser, Commissioner Copps

Some comments from the panel:

- Bryan -- The MMDS/ITFS issue currently being worked on shows
the problems with the command and control model of spectrum
management. Chairman Powell wants to move to a more open,
market-like management approach to spectrum management.

- The MMDS/ITFS NPRM has asked questions about allowing the sale
of ITFS bands, which have been reserved for educational use, for
private commercial use. Barry emphasized that this is not a
policy change yet; the NPRM just seeks to gather as much
information as possible. Paul stated that the questions have
made Commissioner Copps nervous. He feels it is important to
preserve the educational mandate.

- Two-sided auctions are thought to be one way to reduce the
transaction costs involved in managing spectrum. These would put
sellers and potential buyers of spectrum directly in contact with
each, rather than having the FCC as an unwieldy middleman.
Participation would be voluntary, Brian said.

- The 70/80/90 GHz WCA task force has petitioned the FCC to
administer the bands under Part 101 (local site) licenses. The
Office of the Chairman did not seem happy about this. Bryan
asked if there are good sharing practices, why couldn't the bands
be unlicensed? Barry emphasized that the important issue is the
applications--what will the bands provide? His office attempts
to have no pre-conceived notion of what will work and what will

- What are the public interest arguments of the future? A great
question from the audience for this panel. Bryan pointed to
market efficiencies and new technologies--"the greatest good for
the greatest number." But Paul added that while efficient
solutions are in the public interest, so are social and other
aspirational goals--that may collide sometimes with efficiencies.
Barry stated that the Commission does its best to balance the
social, economic, and technical sides of each policy decision.
Jennifer closed by pointing out that sometimes the Commission
simply must return to the statutes, in which Congress often
explicitly defines what the public interest is.

Bringing IEEE 802 Together for Interoperability and Deployments

The session was packed, standing room only several rows deep in
the back. This topic cuts to the heart of 802.16a's future--
where does it fit in the existing wireless environment, and how
will it be integrated there? Current wireless networks exist
within each other, from smallest cell size to largest:

- Personal area network (PAN) -- Bluetooth
- Wireless LAN (WLAN) -- 802.11
- Wide Area Network (WAN) -- 2G, 3G

Missing between WLAN and PAN is MAN--metropolitan area
networking. The key to successful WLAN and to some extent 3G and
4G WAN is backhaul. Endless hotspots are useless if they cannot
be connected to the wired backbone networks at high speed, at a
reasonable cost. To companies including Harris Corporation,
Vivato, Aperto, and Navini Networks, this is one of the greatest
market opportunities for the 802.16a standard. Reza Ahy of
Aperto presented the architecture graphically--a pattern of small
polka dots on a map (Wi-Fi hotspots in an urban area), overlaid
with a pattern of large circles that overlap to cover the entire
map (802.16a cells). In this way an entire region's hotspots can
be back-hauled quickly and cost-effectively. Aperto even
suggested that with the same base station equipment, operators
would be able to provide SLA-level business connectivity over
802.16a, and backhaul for all their local hotspots.

The 802 standards fit together at the Ethernet port on the Wi-Fi
base station at each hot spot. At that point the WiMAX-certified
802.16a equipment would plug in, backhauling the hot spot into
the larger WiMAX cell. Wi-Fi has massive momentum now, as
national operators continue to announce their hot spot plans.
For most 802.16a vendors, back haul is the key to piggy-backing
that momentum.

Report from the 2003 World Radio Conference

Thursday's keynote session was a report on the results of the
2003 World Radio Conference (WRC), concluded on July 4 in Geneva,
Switzerland. The US had 172 reps there, out of 2500 total, from
more than 130 countries. There were 48 major items on the
agenda. Janice Obuchowski, US Ambassador to the 2003 WRC,
described the event as one third political theater, one third
giant spectrum bazaar, and one third meaty technical substance.
Yet at the end of the conference, by all accounts the US
delegation came away with exactly what they wanted:

- Expansion of the 5GHz band -- an additional 455 MHz for indoor
and outdoor unlicensed use;
- Approval of spectrum for the Boeing connection service --
global allocation of spectrum for the in-flight wireless data
networking service proposed by Boeing;
- Earth station spectrum;
- Protection of the DBS spectrum in other regions, such as Asia
and Europe;
- Defeat of resolution 4 -- would have curtailed satellite
spectrum allocations;
- Identified spectrum to designate for emergency military use;
- Spectrum for the GPS upgrade program; and
- Spectrum for new Navy radars.

Janice led the US delegation as they executed on their strategy
of tackling and resolving the issues one by one, doing their best
to de-politicize the issues, and constantly reaching out socially
to other delegations.

The most relevant decision to the WCA was what Janice called "the
Wi-Fi decision"--the additional 455 MHz for unlicensed use in the
5GHz band. The bands are from 5150 MHz to 5350 MHz, and from
5470 MHz to 5725 MHz. Because of incumbent users in this
spectrum such as military radar, the allocation requires that
devices in the new spectrum employ mitigation techniques to avoid
creating interference. These include dynamic frequency
selection, to hop off of frequencies in use by local radar, and
transmitter power controls.

In closing Janice begged--please use this spectrum! We got it
for you, and you know best how to put it to use. And for
companies working internationally, she reminded them that the
5GHz is allocated around the world, but administered differently
by individual governments. "Please do your homework if you are
working internationally."

On the Floor


This company is both a fabless semiconductor company, and
manufacturer of fixed wireless products. They have had an OFDM
256 silicon solution for almost 3 years, and hold patents in the
field. They are currently working on adapting that solution for
802.16a and ETSI Hiperman compliance. Their fab partner is

WiLAN did not see Intel's announcement as a surprise. But, they
did view it as a positive for the entire industry. It raises
awareness of 802.16a and WiMAX to the public and to investors.


Another fabless semiconductor group, WaveSat does not manufacture
equipment themselves, unlike WiLAN. Rather they supply silicon
to partners who design and build the equipment. WaveSat claimed
great experience and success in NLOS (non-line of sight)
performance. In order to succeed with NLOS, the equipment must
synch the signal, and then equalize it. WaveSat holds patents on
fast technology for both processes. NLOS performance is measured
by a system's success in the Standford University Interim (SUI)
models, a series of 6 mathematical models intended to simulate
NLOS conditions in North America, including hilly with moderate
to heavy tree densities, intermediate path-loss conditions, and
mostly flat with light tree densities. WaveSat stated that their
technology passes all 6 of the SUI models.

WaveSat has been working with OFDM since 1997, and they are
currently finishing their first 802.16a compliant chipset. The
first FPGA will be done in late August, and will go to an initial
5 customers, who will test it and give comments. For these first
five, the chip can be customized to their system, in response for
their work to validate the silicon. Iowave has committed as a
customer, and WaveSat is selecting the next 4 now. Following the
validation process, the final chip will be available in December
to OEMs and manufacturers.


The WaveIP booth seemed to be busy the entire conference. This
is another company that both designs their own silicon (fabless),
and produces base station and CPE products as well. Their
selling point is price--$1200 for an access point with an
802.16a-compliant MAC (but 802.11 PHY) that can handle 64 users
over a range of several miles. The antenna is available in a
range of angles of view, from 60 to 180 degrees. The company
also has a proprietary management protocol designed to allow the
operator to push updates out to the CPE. The protocol does have
an SNMP gateway, for operators with existing management

The CPE is $400 and designed for self-install. It has a unique
design, which allows the end user to select vertical or
horizontal polarization of the antenna simply by resting the
device on one edge or the other. Signal strength at the CPE is
indicated with a series of LEDs on the box.

The company is working in 2.4 GHz now, but will be in the 5.8GHz
band by the end of the year. The silicon is an FPGA.


The silicon solutions from this company were unique--MEMS filters
in the 60 to 90GHz range. MEMS stands for micro-electronic
mechanical systems. The filters are structures formed at the
microscopic level in silicon, that are tuned for a specific range
of frequencies. The advantages of performing the filtering in
MEMS, according to Bridgewave, is smaller size, and greater
reliability, than traditional filtering systems for such high

Bridgewave's technology will be used first in line of sight,
point to point fixed wireless systems. Michael Foster, Senior VP
and GM of the Wireless Business Unit stated that for example, he
expected that a 60GHz link product would be able to be priced at
$12,000 per unit--compared to over $40,000 for a similar unit
using traditional filtering ICs.

Bridgewave is in beta trials of the technology this quarter, and
expects to have revenue-generating shipments by the 4th quarter
of 2003. Currently the products are being tested in about 12
trials, in the US and Japan, by operators, CLECs, and fiber
carriers. Bridgewave owns 2 patents and has 10 pending on the
filter technology.