Pre-WiMAX Non-Line-of-Sight, Plug and Play Technology

Some operators, including Clearwire and Xanadoo, launched systems on proprietary broadband wireless platforms that have similar characteristics to WiMAX. WiMAX is an open industry standard; pre-WiMAX is one company's proprietary platform. The pre-WiMAX platforms are not compliant with the WiMAX standard. The WiMAX standard was in a state of evolution and was not finalized in time for some operators to launch service in 2004, when the FCC regulations authorized low-power cellular operations.

Systems that were launched as pre-WiMAX networks are being migrated to the WiMAX standard, so that the equipment will have interoperability, meaning the subscriber modems will work in all other WiMAX networks. To make this transition, the only thing that has to happen is a software update on the units at the customer's site. Without interoperability, WiMAX cannot develop into a nationwide system of networks. All new Clearwire markets are being launched with mobile WiMAX technology. As shown in the graphic below, WiMAX technology greatly expands the capacities and capabilities of wireless broadband access.

The most successful pre-WiMAX platform was the Expedience system developed by NextNet Wireless, a company that was acquired by Clearwire in 2004, and then later sold to Motorola. Expedience equipment is still available and is in use around the world. NextNet Wireless is a member of the WiMAX Forum, and it participated in the development of the WiMAX standard. NextNet technology of non-line-of-sight access and plug-and-play installation were crucial in enabling the wireless industry to succeed, because those featires solved the problems of truck roll installation.

NextNet Wireless first developed the concept of non-line-of-sight ("NLOS") and plug-and-play in 2000. It was the first company to conduct a field test for NLOS (2001), to receive FCC approval for NLOS (2001), to develop a computer chip for NLOS (2001), and to commercially deploy a NLOS plug-and-play system (2002). In 2005, NextNet became the first wireless equipment manufacturer in the United States to develop a "broadband NLOS mobile" public safety product to be used in vehicles for security, first responder, disaster relief, homeland defense, and fleet vehicle applications. See the NextNet Wireless Press Releases.

Each year between 2001 and 2005, NextNet received awards for its technical achievements from the Wireless Communications Association International. In 2005, NextNet received the prestigious "Technology Innovation of the Year" Award for wireless broadband from Frost & Sullivan, a home market research firm. The Award recognizes innovations in wireless broadband Internet access and, in particular, the development of “novel fixed/nomadic and mobile wireless broadband solutions.” In the award presentation, it was noted in particular that “NextNet's Expedience® is the first NLOS wireless broadband system proven to deliver consistent and predictable broadband throughput to all end users within the coverage area.”