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AirSpan bought ArelNet, a company that has developed switching and gateway systems for voice over IP (VoIP) networks: AirSpan expects the purchase to help it support VoIP services.
Incumbent operators should take notice of the interest that WiMax vendors are showing in supporting VoIP. If end users can rely on WiMax connections for voice and data, there’s no need for the incumbent.
Germany recently awarded 450 MHz spectrum to Deutsche Telekom and Inquam: Any country that opens up or awards new 450 MHz spectrum presents an opportunity for Flarion, Ronny Harldsvik, a Flarion spokesman, said via email. The spectrum is ideal for CDMA DO or Flarion’s FLASH-OFDM, he said. Flarion is working with Siemens on developing the 450 MHz gear.
T-Mobile’s venture arm is a Flarion shareholder and T-Mobile is trialing Flarion’s technology in the Netherlands.
It’s quite interesting that Flarion and other proprietary technology vendors are getting attention in Europe, because European operators, historically, have been very adamant about only supporting worldwide standards, such as GSM. But in competitive markets where the demand for broadband is real, perhaps operators are beginning to open up to other ideas.
A handful of Canadian cities are getting broadband wireless networks, thanks to Xplorenet: The company is using Motorola’s Canopy gear to build networks in Toronto, Montreal, Edmonton, Ottawa, Vancouver and some smaller cities. The operator will use a wide range of spectrum, including 900 MHz, 2.4 GHz, and 5.9 GHz.
Canada is quite the unwired country. Wireless technologies are perfect especially for the more remote areas of the country which have very sparse populations.
Canopy will be an interesting product to watch. It’s done well around the world and while Motorola has joined the WiMax Forum, it’s not clear if Canopy will become WiMax compliant. So far, the lack of the WiMax promise doesn’t seem to be affecting the demand for Canopy.
Wavesat is the first to issue a WiMax chip, though it hasn’t met official certification yet: It’s a baseband-only unit and Wavesat has hired Atmel to make the radio component. Still, Wavesat beats the big guys like Intel and Fujitsu, which probably isn’t terribly surprising as the smaller companies usually get to market first. As this research study notes, however, when the Intels of the world do reach the market, their production capacities are so much greater that they’ll likely quickly eclipse Wavesat.
Daily Wireless has some great detail about both the Wavesat chip and other chips that are in the works. The story references a paid research report from Unstrung that suggests that the performance of initial certified WiMax networks is likely to be less than that of existing proprietary systems. That’s in line with much of what I’ve heard from analysts and vendors. But standards are usually a lowest common denominator, allowing vendors to build on them to create a better mousetrap.
AT&T and Intel said they formed a deal six months ago to work on a chip: The chip, which could operate in cell phones, PDAs, and set-top boxes, would let customers click on an AT&T icon to make voice over IP calls. The two will also work on extending the range of WiMax, though I’m not entirely sure why AT&T in particular should be in the position to contribute to such development.
The arrangement probably helps Intel more than AT&T. While Centrino was an obvious step in the right direction, Intel has long openly been eager to expand its presence in the communications space. This deal could get its chips into cell phones, a huge market where Intel doesn’t have much play yet. However, without a cell phone network, it’s not entirely clear how AT&T might help get Intel chips built into mobile phones.
It’s always tough to determine whether deals like this—slightly vague, far-reaching partnerships between two heavy-hitters—will actually produce anything. We’ll just have to wait and see.
Stories about the confusion around WiMax and the potential for WiMax have been running for ages, but they keep coming: That’s testament to the fact that much of the controversy surrounding WiMax hasn’t been addressed. The confusion stems mainly from vendors that continue to either flat out refer to their product as WiMax, even though the certification process hasn’t yet started, or use the term “pre-WiMax,” which can be equally confusing in its implication that the product can easily be upgraded to WiMax.
Wi-LAN’s president and CEO doesn’t help clear things up in this article. He says that Wi-LAN guarantees that it will upgrade its products to be equal to or better than a “pure” WiMax network. Yes, but does that mean that the upgraded products will be certifiable? Because already there are plenty of products on the market that meet the parameters of WiMax but they aren’t yet technically WiMax.
The market for WiMax has also been increasingly put under the microscope, partly because more and more mobile operators around the globe are launching their 3G networks. There is still a debate about how the two networks might co-exist. Because the 3G networks are coming to market before true WiMax gear even exists, perhaps some in the WiMax camp are worried about how 3G might affect the potential WiMax market.
I suspect that another concern for the WiMax industry is that despite the amount of buzz that has surrounded WiMax for some time, no marquee operator has pledged to use it in a big way (certainly in part because the gear isn’t there yet). Some big names have joined the WiMax Forum and some big deployments of broadband wireless networks are in progress, but there’s no big market leader from the operator corner lending the movement credibility. That’s just what IDC claims in a recent report, noting that only a niche opportunity exists for WiMax through 2008, absent a major service provider’s firm commitment.