Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Is 802.22 an 802.16 waiting to happen? Or will WRAN go the distance?

MAN oh MAN, what will become of W-RAN?

There's been a fair amount of coverage lately of the recent completion of IEEE's 802.22 "Wide Regional Area Networks" spec. But there hasn't been anything close to the hype that surrounded 802.16 "WiMAX" work back in the mid-2000s. In other words, things are probably off to a good start for WRAN.

You see, the bar hasn't been set high or at all yet for 802.22 and it will probably service a needy niche providing low-cost data access to remote areas. The pressure is off and the market can take the technology as it sees fit.

WiMAX was a bit of a conundrum. It was positioned as a 3G technology and a 4G technology. But it lacked devices, it lacked wide operator support, and it had frequency issues. There were complaints that WiMAX didn't work well indoors (likely at 2.3GHz to 3.65GHz) at distances more than a mile or so from a base station.

And of course WiMAX was strongly backed by Intel. And when it comes to wireless, Intel has a track record of betting on the wrong horse. It seems that WiMAX is another example of Intel's bad luck --or bad judgment-- when it comes to mobile.

And in the end, LTE was the odds-on audience favorite and the clear winner.

So where does 802.22 "WRAN" fit into the picture? 802.22 is a cognitive radio technology which gives it the flexibility to bounce around unused TV spectrum between 54 - 862 MHz allowing it to support ranges of up to 62 miles (100 kilometers) at a max speed 22Mbps per channel. A radius of 62 miles would give a single base station coverage of 12,000 miles.

Such ranges will allow service providers to offer data connections to remote and very sparsely populated areas. We could see TV broadcasters get into the ISP business or perhaps the use of 802.22 for use by municipalities.

Fortunately for WRAN, it's not infected by the dangers of hype. This could give 802.22 a greater chance of really going the distance.

For rural access, will IEEE's 802.22 go the distance?

1 comment:

Carlos Rey-Moreno said...

Thanks Mr Bryer for your post.
I've been following 802.16 for a long while as a solution for lack of access in isolated places of developing countries, and as you said most of its hype has turned, at leas on the digital divide side, to almost nothing 10 years later.
As said many people expect a lot from 802.22 in this context, but lets see.By now, it seems that Google and Microsoft are pushing kind of hard for the technology.