In the past decade, the proliferation of wireless-communication standards has inspired many RF and microwave designs. The engineers behind these designs felt rewarded because they finally had something to point to that people used in everyday life. Many people—be they family, neighbors, or friends—had a better idea of what these engineers did for a living. At the same time, the technologies offered hope for improving and even saving lives through emergency-services, medical, and other applications. They promised to make such differences simply by providing a means of communication.

In a number of cases, such communications capability had not previously existed. For instance, cellular networks brought services to some Native American reservations that had no telephone service—not even landlines. Now, the WiMAX standard is promising to provide communications to hard-to-reach areas. It provides fixed, nomadic, portable, and—soon—mobile wireless broadband connectivity without the need for direct line of sight with a base station. In a typical cell radius deployment of 3 to 10 km, the WiMAX Forum (www.wimaxforum.org) states that its certified systems can be expected to deliver capacity of up to 40 Mb/s per channel for fixed and portable access applications. Mobile network deployments are expected to provide up to 15 Mb/s of capacity within a typical cell radius as large as 3 km.

Impressively, the first WiMAX network is about to be rolled out in a country in desperate need of communications but with no short-term hopes of the infrastructure to support it: Iraq. By using Redline Communications’ WiMAX-Forum-certified RedMAX products, IRAQTEL plans to deliver voice and broadband services to businesses, municipal organizations, and residents. It will begin its RedMAX deployment in Basrah and then expand to include additional regions.

Communications in Iraq has suffered due to a lack of copper-line infrastructure. Clearly, the resulting lack of communications severely hampers the country’s efforts to rebuild. IRAQTEL is hoping to use its WiMAX network to provide affordable wireless communications to the people of Iraq. The network also should be able to be efficiently re-deployed if any equipment gets damaged due to combat. Finally, a country in transition will have a communications infrastructure that is dependable. That network will undoubtedly save lives and bring people greater piece of mind, as they will be able to check on loved ones who may have been in areas affected by combat. It also should help businesses and the government grow stronger. The engineers that made this network possible should feel good about doing work that will truly improve lives.

From all of us at Microwaves & RF, have a happy and healthy holiday season!