Mobile broadband working group replaced

Mobile broadband working group replaced

Summary: Following claims of bias towards Qualcomm, the IEEE has cleared out all the officers who had been working on the new 802.20 mobile broadband standard

TOPICS: Networking

The IEEE, the body behind the proposed 802.20 standard, has announced it is to replace all the officers on that standard's working group.

The 802.20 (also known as MBWA — Mobile Broadband Wireless Access) working group was suspended in June, following complaints by Intel and Motorola that officers, including the chairman, Jerry Upton, had been favouring proposals by Qualcomm and Kyocera.

It subsequently emerged that Upton was a paid consultant for Qualcomm, although the IEEE maintains that he disclosed an affiliation "no later than July 2003".

Investigations by the IEEE's standards board showed that "the working group had become highly contentious; appeared to lack transparency; and showed evidence of possible dominance and other potential irregularities," said a report issued on Tuesday by the board.

"After completing our investigation and hearing from interested parties, the [standards board] unanimously concluded that the existing IEEE 802.20 process was not effectively serving the IEEE-SA goal of high-quality standards achieved through a fair and open process," the report continued.

As a result, all officers of the 802.20 working group have been dismissed "in an effort to provide clearly neutral leadership and to eliminate perceptions of possible bias". Requirements for IEEE 802.20 participants to declare their affiliations at all meetings have also been "clarified and tightened".

Qualcomm owns an 802.20 development company called Flarion. 802.20 is a direct competitor to 802.16e — also known as mobile WiMax, this standard is heavily backed by both Intel and Motorola.

Any or several of these and other standards could theoretically play a part in "4G", the as-yet-undefined successor to current 3G-derived mobile broadband technologies such as HSDPA.

Topic: Networking

David Meyer

About David Meyer

David Meyer is a freelance technology journalist. He fell into journalism when he realised his musical career wouldn't pay the bills. David's main focus is on communications, as well as internet technologies, regulation and mobile devices.

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  • LTE (Long Term Evolution) 4G is being defined and is agreed on the use of OFDMA for the downlink and SC-OFDM for the uplink. This is a major shift for the leading cellular efforts from CDMA to an OFDM base of technologies.

    The IEEE usually defines standards based on evolution of technologies to serve specific needs. It doesn't usually set out to define two competing camps that use very similar sets of technologies. When 802.20 was first proposed it was defined for 'high speed wireless broadband. At the time, 802.16 was oriented to be the wireless metro area network - wireless Ethernet that extended across a wide swatch of frequencies and was not focusing on mobility. So, 802.20 was set up to develop OFDM solutions for 'high speed' applications while 802.16 (WiMAX) was mandated for applications up to 120 kph. The fact that the 802.16 effort was so focused on fixed-nomadic applications stemmed from the make up of the companies involved: specialist WBB companies with few inputs from incumbent cellular suppliers. That vacuum left the slot open for 802.20 to be proposed for mobile applications... albeit on the contention that it was for high speed, not a duplicate of WiMAX.

    But several companies (Flarion included) communicated in the group that they could extend 802.20 to apply to nomadic, portable, and low speed mobile applications as well. In other words, they set out early on to ignore the mandate of being focused on 'high speed'. OFDM can be 'optimized' to be used for fixed or for mobile applications using the same framework system. 802.16 needed to shift to use of OFDMA in order to provide that flexibility. And all of the advanced systems are embarking on increased use of MIMO-AAS (MAS), adaptive modulation and other technologies needed to enhance bandwidth and performance.

    LTE looks very likely to use SC-OFDM (single carrier OFDM) on the uplink because this provides a way to spread energy to reduce PAPR - peak to average power ratio. That is because the user's handset or other device has less power than a base station. WiMAX uses SOFDMA (scalable OFDMA) on both the up and down links and seeks reduction of power by using advanced power regulation, adaptive modulation and a more granular network topology than is typical of cellular systems.

    These systems are enormously complex and use several sub-sets of technology that vary somewhat and can be optimized to trade off for bandwidth, power, and distance. But the fact is that they are all trending toward a similar basket of core technologies. The expression of these systems will have more to do with how they are used (the systems 'architecture') and the applications that ride on top of them than the core technologies themselves. Those nuts and bolts are things to write about but end users don't know or care as long as they deliver cool services.