The IEEE has started working on 802.16m, a protocol that promises WiMAX speeds of up to 1Gbps and backward compatibility with 802.16e-2005 or Mobile WiMax. The group hopes to conclude the technology development phase by the end of this year, vote on the spec in 2008, and ratify as well as finalize it by the following year.
The proposed “Gigabit WiMax” standard will employ multiple-input/multiple-output (MIMO) antenna technology but the arrays will be larger to boost bandwidth. Cellular companies are banking on the new spec to enable “convergence” 4G as it would combine two parallel streams of wireless technology, i.e., 3G and 802.16. The protocol could also allow wireless providers to offer a range of services similar to those by wired networks, including video streaming, IPTV, and VoIP.