4 of 8Image
At the heart of AS.MAX is the MacroMax base station. This one is using DSL supplied by Pipex.
It contains a Forum-certified 802.16-2004 fixed WiMax chip, although it is soft-upgradeable to the 802.16e mobile WiMax standard.
Lightley highlighted this upgradeability as a key strength for WiMax in its fight against the rise of HSDPA (or next-generation 3G), especially as HSDPA will beat mobile WiMax to the marketplace.
The large size of the base station is due to its built-in power amplifiers.
Airspan is also trialling Internet telephony (VoIP) over its network. A multi-protocol iTone Prime gateway (blue and green, top) links the base station into the public switched telephone network via a soft switch (silver, bottom).
A call-controlling software package called VoiceMax is incorporated into both the soft switch and the base station, ensuring quality of service for voice.
Airspan plans to have about two dozen trial subscribers using VoIP and streaming video over the network within the next few weeks.
It has already had success using WiMax to provide the backhaul for Wi-Fi-enabled devices such as Sony’s PSP, Nintendo’s DS and a Sony location-free TV box.
Of course, something has to pick up the signal on the other end, and here are a few of Airspan’s Easy-ST subscriber terminals.
At a cost price of $400 (£217) each, the plug-and-play terminals provide easy connection (via Ethernet cable) and set-up, although they have to be externally powered.
That’s the main reason for calling fixed WiMax "nomadic" rather than "mobile", which will be the next stage in the technology’s evolution.
Lightley told ZDNet UK that the terminals can be moved between base stations, but operators may want to limit this or charge their subscribers for the privilege.
Although many manufacturers will be bringing out PCMCIA cards to implement this, Airspan intends to go for USB connectivity instead as it’s a “much more flexible” solution, not only for laptops but also for handheld consoles, MP3 players and so on.