N-WEST News #5
National Wireless Electronic Systems Testbed (N-WEST)

August 3, 1998

Results of the July 24 N-WEST Strategy Session, including:

From 9 am until 4:30 pm on July 24, 1998, at the U.S. Department of Commerce Laboratories in Boulder, Colorado, the National Wireless Electronic Systems Testbed (N-WEST) held its first meeting with its Supporting Companies. Detailed minutes have been distributed to the Supporting Companies. This report highlights the meeting's primary outcomes.


Consensus: Importance of N-WEST Effort

The group reached a consensus that the mission defined by N-WEST is vital to the rapid growth of the broadband wireless industry. The participants are committed to ensuring its success by participating and by encouraging the participation of other companies.

Consensus: Broadband Wireless Access

It was agreed by consensus to define the focus of the group as Broadband Wireless Access (BWA), including terrestrial, satellite, and stratospheric systems but specifically excluding unlicensed and mobile applications. Standardization efforts may apply to more than one type of BWA system in more than one frequency band. Economies of scale favor the adoption of common standards whenever practical.

Consensus: Cheap Terminals

The group came to the consensus that our standardization gola should be "cheap terminals," meaning inexpensive customer premises equipment (CPE). CPE standardization will certainly affect other elements of the system, but CPE cost reduction should be the driver. High-end customers that may justify initial deployments are not as sensitive to CPE cost, but it is with high-volume, inexpensive CPE that BWA can make significant inroads into serving a broad market.

Consensus: Indoor Unit/Outdoor Unit Interface

The group agreed that one appropriate interface to standardize is that between the outdoor unit (ODU) and indoor unit (IDU) of the CPE. This interface is not seen by the customer, but its standardization can strongly affect costs. For instance, this would allow competition in the market for the ODU and IDU independently; this is important because these two pieces of equipment may be manufactured by very different companies. Furthermore, the IDU may be standard across a number of different BWA systems, each making use of a different ODU with the same interface. It was agreed by consensus to consider both IF and data interfaces between the units.

Consensus: Bandplan

It was agreed by consensus that a bandplan, including the upstream/downstream division of the spectrum and a channelization scheme, is the most pressing standardization issue. There was broad agreement that more than one channel plan may be required to support various applications. One LMDS bandplan proposal was presented and considered.


It was agreed that the August 9 N-WEST Kickoff Meeting should include presentations on several of the topics we discussed and should result in several short-term working groups that can begin addressing them in more detail. We have set aside meeting space for these groups to begin their efforts on Monday morning, August 10. These working groups should include:

Standards Status
This group will evaluate current standards and identify which are relevant. It will then evaluate which aspects of the existing standards are applicable, which aspects need to be replaced, and which gaps need to be filled. It appears that this group could evolve to assume the task of coordinating with other standards bodies.
Organizational Options
This group will evaluate options for formally organizing the industry efforts associated with N-WEST.
This group would draw up a list of the various applications foreseen for BWA, including point-to-multipoint and point-to-point for voice, data, and video. They would then list the unique requirements that differentiate these services and imply competing standards interests.
Issues Requiring Standardization
This group would itemize and prioritize the issues requiring standardization. It would also suggest interfaces in need of standardization.
This group would develop and evaluate bandplan proposals.


Members of the group agreed to participate in the August 9 N-WEST Kickoff Meeting. Some agreed to present specific presentations there. They also agreed to actively encourage other companies to participate. The participants agreed on the success of this initial meeting and expressed enthusiasm about N-WEST's future.

We are interested in your comments. Please let us know if you would like to be on the August 9 agenda for a formal presentation or if you would like to participate on a working group (either one of those listed above or a new one). Written comments are also welcome.

If you intend to attend the August 9 N-WEST Kickoff Meeting, please register using the on-line form.

Roger Marks (marks@nist.gov)