WiMAX going mobile

Topics: College of Communication Information and Media, Emerging Media

October 14, 2008

Ball State University is continuing its pioneering research of WiMAX technology, testing the mobile applications of the newest version of the broadband wireless system.

In partnership with Cisco Systems, Ball State's Office of Information Technology and the Center for Information and Communication Sciences (CICS) are conducting a research study to examine the mobile WiMAX 802.16e platform and evaluate the performance of "Smart Beamforming" technology.

WiMAX, which stands for the Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access, is a telecommunications technology that provides for the wireless transmission of data in a variety of methods, ranging from point-to-point links to full mobile cellular-type access. The technology provides broadband speed without cables.

Among the latest objectives will be an examination of the system's ability to transmit to mobile units, said Vernon Draper, one of the project's co-investors and University Computing Services' assistant director of networking and communications integration.

"In the ideal world, all mobile communications equipment would have the ability to receive data, voice and video no matter where you are or how fast you are moving," Draper said. "This technology has the potential to allow moving vehicles, including trains, planes and buses, to pick up video services. This could open up doors for new services to be delivered to commuters."

Researchers will be specifically examining the performance of systems produced by Navini, which was recently purchased by Cisco in December 2007. The project is being conducted in cooperation with the Indiana Higher Education Telecommunications System (IHETS) and is similar to tests conducted by Ball State on WiMAX at 3.5 GHz in and around Muncie in 2007.

Ball State became one of the first universities in the United States to begin initial WiMAX tests in 2006. The research is guiding the development of WiMAX to rural and underserved areas throughout the country and around the world.

It is anticipated that this partnership with Cisco Systems will also lead to another round of mobility testing, utilizing multiple base stations and third party testing of new WiMAX hardware and software. This could include early field trials of communication devices provided to consumers, said Robert Yadon, co-principal investigator and director of Ball State's Applied Research Institute, a CICS division.

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