The Smart Approach: WiMAX Goes to College

Carl Ford : 4G Wireless Evolution
Carl Ford
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The Smart Approach: WiMAX Goes to College

A university campus prides in its cohesiveness, in its connectivity.  Campuses have always organized programs to bring their students together socially.  Now universities want to unify their students technologically.
In the past, students were able to connect to the Internet in various locations on campus via Wi-Fi--usually in the library, the cafeteria, the dorms, and several other isolated spots.  In an age of online communications, the Internet connection has become vital to a university's makeup.  Most universities now recommend their students to have a laptop with them in school, since the Internet is a major component of university life.
Wi-Fi does not seem to be able to keep up with the value of Internet on university campuses.  Universities that have geographical constraints--such as those with expansive campuses in suburban or rural areas--need an Internet service that can cover the entire campus, not just individual locations.  WiMAX service can provide this, and at a reasonable cost.
Educational institutions in the US are allocated a certain amount of the 2.5 GHz spectrum by the government to use for their own instructional purposes or to lease to ISPs.  Universities in the United States, such as George Mason University and Wayne State University, have leased their spectrums to WiMAX service providers in order to skip the complicated process of setting up their own WiMAX network.  The universities hope that, after the ISPs are done, students will enjoy ubiquitous Internet access for a lower price.
Universities and ISPs have not made much headway in the US; however, in April 2009 Taiwan's Tatung University became the first university to use Mobile WiMAX for its entire campus.  Alcatel-Lucent provided the WiMAX service, enabling smart metering, digital video surveillance systems, IPTV, PS3 gaming, IMS, and high-speed video streaming.  VIA Technologies participated in the momentous event, offering its WiMAX-enabled OpenBook Mini-Notes as a user device for students and professors.
The VIA OpenBook, based on the VIA Ultra Mobility Platform, measures 8.9-inches and weighs 1.1 kg.  The slim and curvy clamshell-designed laptop resembles a textbook in size yet is much lighter to carry around campus.  It possesses open source access to CAD files for the case design, which allows students to customize the OpenBook's look and feel.  
In Poland, the Krozno Municipality found a solution to educational broadband limitations in Alvarion's BreezeMAX base station.  The process began in 2004, when Krozno initiated its e-education program as a way to provide broadband to city schools.  The program was hindered by the local network, which provided limited ADSL services without a guarantee of good speeds or Quality of Service.  Krozno decided to build its own network, using funds allocated by the European Community through ZPORR (Regional Innovation Strategy and Knowledge Transfer).
Krozno needed a wireless network that could be deployed quickly and cheaply, best utilize its ten 3.5 MHz channels in the 3.5 GHz band, and withstand the icy winter temperatures of the region.  After much research, the city decided to use Alvarion's four-sector BreezeMAX macro base station to provide broadband services to 13 schools.  The BreezeMAX base station is configured to act as the best solution for multi-purpose broadband infrastructure, allowing Krozno's educational institutions to apply the service to security surveillance and data access for government buildings and utilities.
BreezeMAX has been commercially available since mid-2004 and is currently deployed by over 150 operators in more than 30 countries.  Although it is based on the late IEEE 802.16-2004 standard, Alvarion says that BreezeMAX's scalable architecture will be ready to participate in the emerging 802.16e WiMAX industry.  
The solution uses OFDM radio technology in order to cope with adverse channel conditions and non-line-of-sight links.  This quality can be very beneficial to an educational system or university campus, both of which lack Internet access in areas that are blocked by tall buildings or other natural barriers.  BreezeMAX does not just stick to the books either, offering sufficient voice, data, and multimedia services.
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