WiMAX/IEEE 802.16 is a global standard-based technology for Broadband Wireless Access. WiMAX vendors state that WiMAX systems are able to cover a large geographical area, up to 50 km and to deliver significant bandwidth to end-users at up to 72 Mbps. According to the WiMAX forum, WiMAX provides coverage economically and combines both Line of Sight (LOS) and None Line of Sight (NLOS) coverage. With Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM) technology, WiMAX has been optimized to provide NLOS coverage (up to 15 Km around the base station) and long-range transmission up to 50Km in Line of Sight conditions. WiMAX technology can be deployed as a Point Multi-Point in last mile connection and as part of the backhaul to the PSTN and Internet access points.
The first commercial deployment of WiMAX in the Arab World was in Algeria. Smart Link Communication (SLC) has deployed WiMAX to provide broadband wireless services in Algeria. The frequencies SLC uses for WiMAX are in the 3.5 GHz band and 5.8 GHz band. SLC’s goal is to build a wireless broadband backbone covering the national territory, to develop the metropolitan broadband networks, and to set up an independent new generation telecom infrastructure. On July 25, 2005, SLC launched the first national multi-services network. The deployment of this network makes it possible to develop services based on Broadband Wireless Access (BWA), VoIP, Virtual Private Network (VPN-IP MPLS). Algeria’s tough and mountainous terrain makes it an ideal candidate for wireless connectivity solutions.
A new report, “WiMAX in the Arab World: Current status and regulations.” was released to the Arab Advisors Group’s Telecoms Strategic Research Service subscribers on April 13, 2006. The 20-page report, which has 9 detailed exhibits, investigates the availability of WiMAX regulations in 18 Arab countries, the frequencies used, entities that have tested WiMAX or pre-WiMAX services, and vendors for equipment. The report covers the following Arab countries: Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, UAE, and Yemen.
“There are still no detailed regulations specific to WiMAX in Arab countries. Some Arab countries, however, have specified the type of license that needs to be obtained to provide WiMAX service. For example, in Algeria, the company should have a VOIP authorization and regulator has specified the 3.5 GHz band for WiMAX, while in Jordan, the company should have an individual license needed to use the frequency (a scare resource).” Ms. Serene Zawaydeh, a consultant at Arab Advisors Group wrote in the report.