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Mex. offers concession-free access to WiMAX

Is there such a thing as a free lunch after all? The authorities in Mexico decided to open up frequency bands for wireless technologies without the need for a concession license. Analysts have generally welcomed the move and say it should help define future WiMAX spectrum use parameters. In March, Mexico telecom regulator Cofetel published regulations which will monitor the use of certain frequency bands for wireless technologies such as WiMAX and WiFi. Authorities agreed that spectrum in the 900bMHz, 2.0bGHz, and 5GHz bands would be freely available, while the 3.6GHz to 3.7GHz bands would be reserved for concessionaires.

The analysts note, however, that there is a need for more clarifications before the likely impact on WiMAX use can be assessed, especially since concession-free access to spectrum may well mean that the zone will be flooded, leading to serious interference problems. Thus, José Otero, president of Signals Consulting, says the communications ministry SCT has not made it clear how they were going to account for interference and how many operators can function in a particular geographical area offering what service. "They didn't make it clear how many operators will use the frequency. Will it be 100 or 20," Otero told BNamericas. Enrique Melrose, analyst with Javier Lozano y Asociados group and a former Cofetel technical adviser, said that even in the U.S. there is still no agreement on how many operators can share the same frequency. "Some say that with more than five or six operators problems start to arise, others say that interference occurs after 10. It depends a lot on the characteristics of the equipment and the sensitivity of the receivers," he said.

Canadian wireless broadband equipment supplier Redline Communications is more sanguine on the Mexican decision. Redline's VP Michael Ansley met with the regulator in February and said that Cofetel was perfectly aware of the global standardization process for WiMAX equipment and the procedures for channeling spectrum, as stipulated by the WiMAX Forum. "Cofetel was very aware of what is going on in the world and the standardization process. They were really working for the right balance for regional development in the country by offering both national licenses and regional licenses," Ansley said. Because Cofetel is aware that there is always a greater risk of interference in an unlicensed band, the regulator will leave only the 5.8 GHz band unlicensed to encourage local ISPs to set up and offer service to rural communities.

Roberto Martínez, government relations director in Mexico for Intel, believes the unlicensed bands probably will be used for pilot projects for public or government services in areas of low geographical density. The licensed bands promise a lot more from a technological perspective as they have greater potential for efficient spectrum use. "It's like the difference between a private toll highway and a publicly-maintained secondary road," Martínez said.

For more on Cofetel's decision:
- see this Cellular News report

ALSO: Mobile Metrics will soon make available an advanced traffic simulation system designed for testing WiMAX in the Access Service Network (ASN) and the Connectivity Service Network (CSN). Mobile Metrics has other products in this line, but the Torrent 7100 WiMAX Test System will focus exclusively on WiMAX. The Torrent 7100 simulates a variety of protocols such as HTTP, WAP, MMS, PTT, SIP, RTCP, RTP, FTP, SMTP, POP3, ICMP and DNS. It allows equipment manufacturers and operators to run suites of parallel, realistic traffic profiles which can programmatically interact with the system under test through telnet or ssh. For example, test cases can automatically monitor the system under test for memory leaks or error logs. Site

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