The WiMax Forum has issued its first certifications for Mobile WiMax products operating at 2.5GHz.

Alvarion and Motorola each received the Forum's seal of approval for a base station. Airspan Networks, Beceem Communications, Intel and ZyXEL now have certified products for use on the subscriber side, while Samsung and Sequans Communications have both.

The product Intel has had approved is its Wi-Fi and WiMax Link 5350 module, codenamed Echo Peak-P, which is expected to be available in certain notebook PCs sold in the United States at the end of this year, according to Intel.

The certifications came as no surprise to Martin Gutberlet, analyst at Gartner.

"It is long overdue, and 2.5GHz is especially important in the US, because it's the frequency which Clearwire and Sprint use," said Gutberlet.

But at the same time he doesn't think it improves the overall business case for WiMax: There are still major obstacles, including the availability of devices, he said.

Gutberlet isn't the only one who has been waiting.

"I would have liked to see it sooner, but it’s great that they are finally here. It means we'll see interoperability between products from different vendors, which operators are demanding," said Michael Blomqvist, CEO at Swedish broadband equipment reseller Nordic NoWire, which includes products from Airspan in its portfolio.

The announced products are just the first batch of certified hardware: WiMax Forum estimates that more than 100 Mobile WiMax products will be certified by the end of 2008, and by 2011 more than 1,000 products will undergo Mobile WiMax certification.

By the end of the year WiMax Forum plans to reveal the first certified products running at 3.5GHz, for which testing is scheduled to begin during the fourth quarter. It also plans to open two more certification labs by the end of 2008, in India and Japan, and an additional lab in Brazil in 2009, all in order to support the anticipated growth in those regions.