Ball State pioneers WiMAX research; benefits Midwest and beyond

Topics: Administrative, Emerging Media

November 27, 2007

WiMAX
After months of testing, Ball State University's Office of Wireless Research and Mapping (OWRM) has released its groundbreaking research findings on WiMAX technology that will help steer the development of broadband services to rural and underserved areas in the Midwest as well as throughout the United States.

Taking advantage of a temporary six-month 3.5 GHz license that was granted to the university by the Federal Communications Commission, Ball State began testing connectivity, throughput, capacity, signal strength and penetration from inside homes, while accounting for variables such as weather, trees, elevation and distance.

"As one of the only research entities testing WiMAX in the United States, we've been able to examine the performance of the WiMAX platform during a typical Midwest deployment," said Bizhan Nasseh, assistant vice president for information technology and director of OWRM. "The data collected will not just impact the 'wireless world,' but have a significant economic impact as well."     

Many companies looking to pioneer WiMAX technologies are eager to see the results, which measured signal propagation in neighborhoods and homes, comparing actual signal measurements to predictive computer models. In addition, field tests were performed using indoor self-installable customer premise equipment (CPE) and outdoor CPE as well as signal testing to determine the ability of the equipment and obtain a quality usable signal.

Simply stated, researchers found that the WiMAX equipment was much better at obtaining a consistent and usable signal from obstructed and non-line-of-sight locations than more traditional point-to-multipoint technology.

Nasseh says having the ability to test and deploy this type of leading-edge technology not only gives Ball State the data needed to accurately predict and map signal coverage of rural areas but also establishes the university as a formative voice on the emerging technology.

Ball State's leadership in wireless research has already led to a handful of industry partnerships. Digital Bridge Communications, a provider of broadband wireless services to rural and underserved communities, Alvarion, the world's largest manufacturer of wireless broadband, and Afterimage GIS, a company that specializes in radio frequency modeling, design and market analysis, have already jumped at the chance to work with the university on its WiMAX research and GIS map making enterprise.

"The 'wireless world' is beginning to take notice of what we're doing and has led to more expanded opportunities," said Phil Repp, interim vice president for information technology. "Our upcoming research will include testing 2.5 GHz WiMAX, the licensed frequency for the U.S., in areas outside of Indiana, which will allow us to continue to be at the forefront of this groundbreaking technology."

To view the complete report, visit www.bsu.edu/owrm and click on the WiMAX research report link.

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