NextWave Wireless and Global Mobile are collaborating to deliver personalized mobile multimedia services including mobile TV, interactive media and digital audio via emerging mobile WiMAX technology in Taipei, Taiwan. The comprehensive field trial, which is expected to evolve into a full deployment, will use NextWave’s end-to-end WiMAX technology including base stations, Access Service Network (ASN) gateways and chipsets and software provided by the PacketVideo subsidiary.
“It pulls together elements from all parts of the company and helps this operator and the community of operators that exist in Taiwan now go faster, deploy services and networks more quickly and economically. We think it’s going to get some of the innovative services and devices into the hands of consumers relatively quickly,” said Craig Miller, vice president of NextWave’s semiconductor business unit.
End devices to take advantage of the WiMAX signals are an interesting part of the equation. Taiwan is known for its technological manufacturing expertise and Global Mobile has developed an ecosystem of vendors and device manufacturers on the island to take advantage of this expertise.
“Taiwan is a fairly small place and you can imagine that the relationships an industry leader like Global Mobile has on the island are pretty significant,” Miller said. “We’re working with a number of Taiwanese OEMs and ODMs to fill the demand for mobile devices (but) we’re not quite ready to announce those yet.”
That unfulfilled part of the deal — mobile WiMAX-capable end devices — might lend one to conclude that this is more of a technology trial to work out kinks than an actual deployment. Miller vigorously disagrees with that.
“This is not a technology experiment; it’s a deployment. Global Mobile has committed major resources, major investment, major build-out plans, major business plans and committed a whole business around deploying these mobile broadband services using WiMAX technology. They’re satisfied that our technology is mature and innovative and gives them some advantages in delivering these services,” he said.
That technology is being designed for mobile WiMAX as opposed to fixed or portable networks that have been prevalent throughout the world as part of a wireless DSL play.
“You make a different design decision if you design for a fixed device that’s going to be sitting on a desk somewhere with a big antenna plugged into the wall,” Miller said. “Because we focus very heavily on mobile devices, we care a lot about RF performance and power consumption and link budget and all those things factor into how you plan your network. We’ve taken very much a mobile-centric approach.”
Miller said that the Global Mobile announcement precedes what should be a mobile WiMAX boom in 2009.
“There are somewhere in the neighborhood of 150 operators worldwide that are either in late trials or early deployment phases. We believe 2009 is the year where you start to see an inflection in real services being turned on, real subscribers coming online and real services being sold,” he said.