Speculations are growing that Nokia is working on a version of the N800 Internet tablet with a WiMAX chip in addition to Bluetooth and Wifi. This report on Heise News, a reliable German tech website, links Nokia’s plans with the launch of Sprint’s WiMAX network in 2008.
They also link to an interesting data sheet of a WiMAX Module from SyChip, (which they say may or may not be related to the N800 WiMAX development) which contains quite interesting high level details of first generation embedded WiMAX chips. According to the data sheet the WiMAX module is 21.6 x 23.7 x 1.5mm in size and supports 802.16e. The block diagram shows two antenna connectors for MIMO in downlink direction and single stream transmission in uplink direction. Mobile devices communicate with the embedded module either via SDIO or USB.
One of the mysteries around WiMAX to me, still, is how users and devices will be authenticated since I haven’t seen any kind of SIM card specification for WiMAX yet. The data sheet, however, says that the following security mechanisms are supported: EAP-SIM, EAP-AKA, EAP-TLS. While EAP-TLS works with certificates, EAP-SIM was originally specified by 3GPP (UMTS standards body) for Wifi authentication using the secret keys and subscriber ID contained on a GSM/UMTS SIM card. For details take a look here. Since EAP-SIM has been specified independently from the underlying network technology, it should integrate nicely into WiMAX as well.
This raises the question though what kind of equipment is used on the network side that supports EAP-SIM authentication!? If you have more information, please let me know!