The IEEE has been warned not to make last-minute changes to new wireless standards by a leading certification body.

"We've told them: 'Don't do this to us again'," WiMax Forum president Ron Resnick said at a wireless show in California yesterday, referring to changes in the WiMax spec that caused a delay in new products being certified as standard-compatible.

That delay was over fixed WiMax products, and Resnick is determined the same will not happen with the mobile WiMax standard, 802.16e, that will provide high-speed mobile broadband access.

The forum expects to certify the first mobile WiMax products by the end of 2006, Resnick said. Any clarifications following the ratification of 802.16e that would interrupt certification testing will be held back until after certified products have hit the market, he said. Any adjustments made at that point could be implemented with field software upgrades to products.

The set of details that interrupted test preparation last November, called a corrigendum, didn't change the 802.16-2004 standard but defined parts of it more precisely. The forum could have set aside the corrigendum for the time being and gone ahead with testing, but the work would have had to be done later anyway, he said.

The first mobile WiMax products to be certified will support mobile use, Resnick said. However, one WiMax vendor executive told the conference that full roaming and handoff capabilities may not be available until 2010. There's a lot of work ahead of us," said Reza Ahy, CEO of Aperto.

Intel told attendees it is on schedule to introduce Centrino wireless chipsets for notebook PCs next year. Only wireless technologies such as WiMax can close the "digital divide" between rich and poor countries and communities, said Sean Maloney, general manager of its Mobility Group. "There is an aching need for the deployment of WiMax and these [other wireless] technologies," Maloney said.

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