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Siemens to Trial WiMax in Italy
Ericsson to Sell Airspan Gear
Sprint to Trial WiMax
Nextel to Trial IPWireless
TowerStream Expands
WiMax Needs Sweet Spot
Clearwire Launches in Eugene, Oregon
The Limits to 3.6 GHz
Court Decision Good News for Broadband Wireless
Mobile vs. Fixed

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June 30, 2005

Siemens to Trial WiMax in Italy

By Nancy Gohring

Siemens said it will launch a handful of trials of broadband wireless networks in Italy: Siemens will use its SkyMax gear, which the vendor hopes will receive certification as WiMax gear. Siemens isn’t naming names so it’s unclear if the vendor is working with an actual operator. [link via DailyWireless]

Posted by nancyg at 4:26 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Ericsson to Sell Airspan Gear

By Nancy Gohring

Ericsson said it will sell Airspan’s line of WiMax products: Ericsson joined the WiMax Forum near the end of last year but I don’t think the company has made any significant announcements in the space. The vendor will be following the footsteps of many of its competitors in re-selling WiMax equipment developed by another company.

Posted by nancyg at 4:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sprint to Trial WiMax

By Nancy Gohring

On the heels of Nextel’s announcement of an IPWireless trial, Sprint says it will trial mobile WiMax with Motorola: Sprint said that WiMax is one of the technologies it is trialing in consideration of services to be deployed in the 2.5 GHz band. Sprint recently purchased Nextel, which in addition to the IPWireless trial, has also conducted a live market trial of Flarion’s gear.

While earlier today I wrote that WiMax is at a disadvantage in a competition for Sprint’s business because IPWireless and Flarion have products available today, I’ve re-thought that point. Realistically, Motorola and a slew of other vendors also have broadband wireless equipment, they just aren’t technically standard. But neither are IPWireless or Flarion. IPWireless is technically part of an official body of standards, but it’s not really comparable to something like WiMax that has a much larger ecosystem of companies supporting it. Sprint could bet on WiMax, using proprietary equipment to begin with based on hopes of migrating to standardized and lower-cost equipment as it becomes available.

Posted by nancyg at 3:49 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Nextel to Trial IPWireless

By Nancy Gohring

Nextel said it will launch a trial of IPWireless’ technology in the Washington, D.C. area: Nextel recently shut off its trial in North Carolina of Flarion’s technology. Nextel plans to use its 2.5 GHz spectrum for the IPWireless trial but it used a trial 1.9 GHz band for the Flarion network. Sprint, which recently bought Nextel, made some noises around the time of the merger about planning to deploy WiMax once the mobile version comes out. But since then the company seems to be softening the finality of that statement. Combined, the new Sprint Nextel have a significant portion of the 2.5 GHz licenses in the U.S., so they’re clearly looking for some way to leverage them. This is another instance where WiMax could loose out due to timing. Flarion and IPWireless both have equipment available today whereas the mobile WiMax standard isn’t even finalized yet.

Posted by nancyg at 9:40 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

TowerStream Expands

By Nancy Gohring

TowerStream added Brooklyn and Queens to its coverage area: TowerStream says it currently has “hundreds” of customers in New York that it serves from three base stations. TowerStream targets business customers. [look here for the press release, which should turn up eventually.]

Posted by nancyg at 9:31 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

WiMax Needs Sweet Spot

By Nancy Gohring

An Ovum analyst has an interesting look at the business case for WiMax: He suggests that a market needs fairly high density and little competition for WiMax to successfully serve as a DSL replacement. Other factors can make WiMax a potential competitor to DSL, but basically going head-to-head with DSL in many situations won’t work.

It seems to me that many broadband wireless operators must already believe this. In the U.S., some of the more well-known operators such as NextWeb and Towerstream are targeting business customers, which is a market with room for differentiation on price and services. Clearwire is targeting smaller markets without tons of competition.

One of his findings is surprising to me. He says that looking at Unwired in Australia and Clearwire in the U.S., operators are finding that customers aren’t willing to pay a premium for the luxury of portability. This surprises me, if only because personally I would. Also, it seemed that some historical wireless success stories, like Nextel’s Flarion network and Ricochet, were due to the fact that users loved the portability factor.

UPDATE: The Yankee Group’s Lindsay Schroth wrote to say that she too thinks that users will pay a premium for portability. The folks at Unwired Australia have told her that portability is an important element of their strategy and they credit it for some of their recent success.

Posted by nancyg at 9:25 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 29, 2005

Clearwire Launches in Eugene, Oregon

By Glenn Fleishman

My hometown will be Clearwire’s 10th market: Eugene is a little island of population in the middle of Oregon, about 100 miles from the Portland megalopolis which encompasses much of the citizenry of the state. And despite Eugene’s strong blue-collar roots in lumber and other industry, there’s a big lump of academia and service in the middle.

Clearwire’s technology offers 1.5 Mbps for about $30 to $40 per month through wireless data sent over licensed spectrum. The company has chosen smaller cities in which there’s a good chunk of population with fewer options. Eugene has the duopolies but not much else, and a good part of the city is spread out making it harder to get full-speed DSL.

Posted by Glennf at 8:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 28, 2005

The Limits to 3.6 GHz

By Nancy Gohring

The FCC’s requirements on the 3.6 GHz band make it hard for U.S. operators to use standard WiMax gear: I’ve touched on some of this in a recent article for Telephony and during earlier posts here. It’s a similar situation in the 5.4 GHz band, as NextWeb’s Graham Barnes also pointed out to me. These are just two more examples of the spectrum mess that operators have to deal with.

DailyWireless also points out that other bands including the 2.3 GHz band are similarly problematic. There have also been issues in the 2.5 GHz band.

Posted by nancyg at 3:23 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Court Decision Good News for Broadband Wireless

By Nancy Gohring

TowerStream figures that the Supreme Court decision that cable companies don’t have to open their networks is good news for wireless broadband: This is obviously self-serving but it also has some truth to it. TowerStream figures that ISPs will look for alternatives to cable, such as wireless broadband, for delivering services. If the WiMax standard does ultimately lead to low-priced network equipment, startup ISPs could be in a position to build networks and grow them as they attract customers. But just like working with incumbents to share lines has a host of issues, so does building a wireless network, with the main issue being availability of spectrum.

Posted by nancyg at 3:11 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Mobile vs. Fixed

By Nancy Gohring

Telephony takes a look at the division between vendors pursuing the fixed WiMax standard and those waiting for mobility: It’s really no surprise to see that the vendors that have traditionally served the cellular industry are working on the mobile standard. One aspect that may surprise and disappoint the fixed vendors is that many of those vendors have decided to develop their own mobile WiMax products, rather than buy or resell products that will be developed by the often smaller fixed WiMax vendors. The fixed vendors, once they’ve developed 802.16e products, will have a hard time competing against the likes of Nokia, Motorola, and Alcatel for business from the existing mobile operators.

Posted by nancyg at 2:40 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 27, 2005

New Broadband Wireless Option in Ireland

By Nancy Gohring

A company called Ice Communications is set to start offering broadband wireless services in parts of Ireland: The company Web site is a bit weak on details so I’m not exactly sure what equipment or frequencies are being used, but I’m guessing that the network is using either proprietary gear or base stations loosely based on 802.11 technologies because the Web site says that customers must be within line of sight of the base station. Customers can subscribe for 38 euros per month for 1 Mbps downlink and 256 Kbps uplink.

This is a decent deal in these parts particularly because that’s the total cost and there is no download limit. By contrast, the wired options cost around 30 euros on the low end, always require an additional line rental fee, and usually have a download limit. Since practically everyone in Ireland has a cell phone, Ice customers could do away with their expensive landlines all together.

The antics of Eircom, the incumbent telco in Ireland, are making this country a prime spot for wireless broadband operators. Eircom is making life hell for competitive providers that wish to use its lines to deliver DSL. Operators may be better off building their own wireless networks than trying to deal with Eircom (not that I’m suggesting these operators give up the fight though). It’s clear that some operators already are pursing this idea, given the disproportionately large number of operators here using broadband, including Irish Broadband, DigiWeb, Leap (recently bought), and others, including Clearwire which has yet to launch.

Posted by nancyg at 3:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Cisco Knocks WiMax

By Nancy Gohring

Cisco’s CTO says there’s no need for broadband wireless: He says that 98 percent of the population of the developed world is going to be highly wired. I’d have to argue with that, given the current state of wired broadband availability in some of the less populous areas of the United States. Or, to give a more specific example, Ireland is a developed country yet only 3 percent of the population here has broadband, and that’s largely because the incumbent telco has ancient plant and just doesn’t care to upgrade or comply with unbundling regulations. That makes a place like Ireland ideal for competitors to use technologies like WiMax to serve the population. Also, plenty of leaders in the WiMax segment are saying that some of the biggest potential for WiMax is in the developing world, where the wired infrastructure doesn’t exist and wireless offers a less expensive way to build networks. So while I have to agree that WiMax is over-hyped and won’t revolutionize the universe, I think that Cisco is underestimating and perhaps misunderstanding the opportunity. [Link via Wispcentric]

Posted by nancyg at 2:57 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Philippines to Open New Spectrum

By Nancy Gohring

The regulator in the Philippines is reallocating nine spectrum bands: The goal is to encourage wireless broadband services potentially using both Wi-Fi and WiMax. It seems that some countries were a bit late to the game in opening up spectrum for Wi-Fi and maybe now they see the affect that broadband wireless can have and may be more progressive when it comes to making spectrum available for technologies like WiMax. [link via]

Posted by nancyg at 2:41 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Aperto Ready for Certification Process

By Nancy Gohring

Aperto says it is sending its PacketMax product to the WiMax Forum certification lab next month: Aperto also says it has successfully tested interoperability between its Fujitsu chip based base stations and Intel chip based subscriber units. This would be far more interesting if it involved the interoperability of products from multiple vendors. For a while a lot of vendors said they didn’t expect their first generation products to interoperate well, supporting all features, with products from other vendors.

Posted by nancyg at 2:32 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

O2 Pursues WiMax in Germany

By Nancy Gohring

Hopefully some more details on this will emerge soon, but O2 has partnered with an ISP to jointly offer broadband wireless services in Germany: James Enck picked this up from a reader and it doesn’t look like it has yet to be more widely reported on. This is big news for WiMax because it marks a significant European mobile operator’s commercial entrance in the WiMax (or soon-to-be WiMax) space. O2 already has an offering in Germany where 3G customers pay a discounted rate in their homes for broadband wireless access, in an apparent jab at the fixed-line broadband players. O2 conducted a broadband wireless trial using Alvarion equipment in Ireland last year.

Posted by nancyg at 2:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 24, 2005

Finland Chooses Flarion

By Nancy Gohring

A couple of days ago IPWireless announced a win in the Czech Republic and now it’s Flarion’s time in the sun: The winner of the 450 MHz license in Finland will use Flarion’s gear to build a nationwide network. The regulator requires the operator to lease the network to any interested service provider. A Flarion spokesman said that the network is expected to deliver the same data rates as any Flarion network, which is as much as 1.5 Mbps on the downlink and 300-500 Kbps on the uplink. Usually, the further down the spectrum you go, the harder it is to offer broadband, and 450 MHz is pretty low on the band.

The CDMA camp has also targeted the 450 MHz band and a couple of the applicants for this license would have used CDMA. There are probably a couple of reasons why those companies didn’t win. These days, most people in the wireless world agree that the future is OFDM so there could have been a perception that the CDMA gear would become obsolete sooner. Also, this is Europe where CDMA is generally reviled, so the choice could have had a bit of politics to it.

WiMax, or something like it, isn’t being optimized, as far as I know, for this low-band frequency, although it probably could be. Still, the more wins that the likes of IPWireless and Flarion get in Europe, the more mindshare they win, which makes them potential competitors to 802.16e.

Posted by nancyg at 12:54 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 22, 2005

NextWeb Targets Hotels

By Nancy Gohring

California wireless ISP NextWeb has formed a partnership that will supply hotels with broadband services: NextWeb’s partner, Kyber, offers Internet services to hotels, for use by guests and workers. Kyber said it will offer hotels NextWeb’s broadband wireless service. NextWeb will essentially set up wireless backhaul and Kyber will focus on getting the broadband access to the rooms, presumably using Wi-Fi.

NextWeb has been quite active in the recent year or so, adding new markets and new services, such as voice. This announcement is a great application for broadband wireless. The hotels can bypass the local wireline player, which in many cases may not offer the best customer support. It’s also possible that NextWeb can offer the same or better service for a lower price.

NextWeb and Kyber have at least one hotel customer, as the announcement includes a quote from the manager of a Quality Inn and a Comfort Inn.

Posted by nancyg at 10:21 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 21, 2005

Qwest to Trial WiMax Near Denver

By Nancy Gohring

Qwest said that it plans to launch a WiMax trial in a small city near Denver: The company hasn’t decided where but expects the trial to start in the fourth quarter of this year. Qwest has already been testing out broadband wireless among employees in Denver and Rio Rancho, New Mexico.

Qwest joins AT&T and Bellsouth in recent announcements about WiMax trials. These big name operators lend a lot of credibility to WiMax, although none has yet announced any large scale commercial rollouts. Notice it’s the big wireline operators expressing interest, rather than the mobile operators. This means the wireline guys might actually start paying attention to the smaller towns that they’ve previously said weren’t worth building broadband out to. It also means that if they do build the networks they could eventually steal some niche market share from the cellular operators, if the landline operators ultimately migrate to mobile WiMax. [Link via Broadband Reports.]

Posted by nancyg at 4:54 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

London Looks to WiMax

By Nancy Gohring

Lewisham, a London Borough, received funding from the government for a WiMax/Wi-Fi network: The borough is hoping to build a network that uses WiMax for backhaul and Wi-Fi for access. The network is initially expected to be used by city workers.

There has been quite a bit of interest in London from private, municipal, and educational groups to build WiMax networks. I haven’t heard much of a similar backlash as we’ve seen in the U.S. from commercial providers opposing city-funded networks.

Posted by nancyg at 2:54 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 20, 2005

T-Mobile to Launch IPWireless, Flarion Could Win in Finland

By Nancy Gohring

T-Mobile said it is launching a network in the Czech Republic using gear from IPWireless: Customers will be able to use combined EDGE/IPWireless PCMCIA cards for wireless data access. The network is expected to cover Prague by the end of the year, followed by the rest of the country. T-Mobile says that just two percent of the market has broadband access, so if the price is right this could make a good option. The companies say that an average user would get 512 Kbps downlink.

This is a coup for IPWireless for a couple of reasons. T-Mobile is an investor in IPWireless rival Flarion and has tried the Flarion technology in the Netherlands. In many countries (I’m not sure about the Czech Republic), operators are allowed to deploy IPWireless’ technology in the cellular frequencies but they aren’t allowed to deploy Flarion’s technology. But this is also significant because T-Mobile is a major European operator so it lends some legitimacy to IPWireless.

T-Mobile will be using the 1.9 GHz band in Prague but the oddball 872 MHz band outside of the city. Typically, the lower bands have further range but can carry less data.

In other European wireless data network news, Flarion is in a good position to win some business in Finland. Finland is about to distribute some licenses in the 450 MHz band. Flarion has developed equipment for the band and five of the seven spectrum bidders say they’d use Flarion’s gear. The other two say they’d opt for CDMA-based equipment. [link via Wispcentric]

Last year, Wireless Week ran an informative piece about the 450 MHz band in Europe, specifically looking at the potential for CDMA in the band. It’s good background reading for anyone not familiar with what’s happening in the 450 MHz band in Europe.

While many of these announcements involve unusual spectrum bands, generally, the more mobile broadband networks that get launched in the next couple of years, the more competition mobile WiMax will have when it becomes available.

Posted by nancyg at 2:40 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Intel to Work With KT on Interoperability

By Nancy Gohring

Intel said it will work with KT Corp. on interoperability of WiBro and WiMax: WiBro is the Korean broadband wireless standard. This alliance isn’t hugely surprising or interesting given that we already knew that Korea had decided to work to harmonize WiBro and the mobile version of WiMax.

Posted by nancyg at 2:10 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 18, 2005

The HSPA Threat

By Nancy Gohring

Future cellular technologies are poised to steal some potential market share from WiMax: Many of the GSM cellular operators are moving toward deploying HSDPA (High Speed Download Packet Access) followed by HSUPA, (HS Upload PA) which increases uplink speeds. The initial launches of HSDPA are likely to support around 1 Mbps on the downlink per user, with speeds increasing with future upgrades. Because the cellular operators already have networks in place, they are well-positioned to introduce a ubiquitous or near-ubiquitous network, should they choose.

While the involvement of the traditional cellular vendors in the WiMax world is encouraging for WiMax, these vendors are often unclear about how WiMax and the future cellular technologies are likely to co-exist. “HSDPA is complimentary to WiMax,” said Simon Beresford-Wylie, senior vice president, EMEA for Nokia’s networks division, while speaking at Nokia’s annual journalists event earlier this week.

But it was difficult to see exactly how the two technologies might be complementary. Beresford-Wylie noted that HSDPA will likely offer more in terms of mobility while WiMax ought to offer faster throughputs. He suggested that cellular operators might use WiMax networks to supplement their networks in metropolitan areas. When pushed on the issue, he said that some cellular operators might use WiMax while some new operators might deploy it to compete with the cellular networks.

In some ways, some vendors seem stuck between trying to capitalize on a new market—WiMax—and offending their existing lucrative relationships with the cellular operators.

In other HSDPA news, Nokia said it can publicly describe six public HSDPA contracts and has fifteen others that it can’t discuss. Nokia also briefly described an announcement it made earlier this year about Internet-HSPA (no D or U in the middle)—a network upgrade that would support data only.

Nortel has also been aggressively pursing HSDPA. BB Mobile in Japan said it has conducted live field tests using Nortel HSDPA gear in the unusual 1.7 GHz band. They claim this is the first such example in Japan.

Posted by nancyg at 5:58 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 17, 2005

WiMax Telecom Plans September Launch

By Nancy Gohring

Austrian operator WiMax Telecom plans a commercial launch in September: The operator, the only 3.5 GHz licensee in Austria, is currently testing networks in some areas. By the end of the year it expects to have 60 base stations in place, initially targeting areas without much existing broadband followed by cities.

Posted by nancyg at 2:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Telephony's WiMax Supplement

By Nancy Gohring

I linked to a story I did about WiMax spectrum but here’s a link to the full issue: Telephony published a supplement magazine dedicated to WiMax. There are a few other good stories here, including one on mobility.

Posted by nancyg at 1:26 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

AT&T Expands Trial

By Nancy Gohring

AT&T said it will launch another broadband wireless trial in Atlanta: The company has been trialing a similar network in New Jersey. AT&T isn’t saying whose gear it is using, but says that the equipment is all of the variety being submitted to the WiMax Forum for WiMax certification. A spokesperson said he doesn’t expect there to be many changes between what is being used now and final certified gear.

Interestingly, AT&T is using loaner frequencies from the FCC for the networks because it doesn’t want to use unlicensed spectrum. AT&T doesn’t have any licensed spectrum that would be suitable for WiMax so this makes the trials a bit curious. The spectrum situation is so murky in the U.S. that it’d be hard to imagine AT&T getting its hands on any useful licensed spectrum in the near enough future to be able to build a WiMax network. Perhaps AT&T wants to run its own trials before partnering with another company that does have spectrum to offer services.

Posted by nancyg at 1:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 16, 2005

Ivory Coast to get Broadband Wireless

By Nancy Gohring

Arobase Telecom is building a broadband wireless network in Abidjan: Alvarion is supplying its BreezeMax platform for the network, which will serve large and small businesses. This is another example of how broadband wireless can be deployed cheaper and quicker than wireline technologies in areas that may lack much existing telecom infrastructure.

Posted by nancyg at 5:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 10, 2005

Clearwire Scoops Up More Spectrum

By Nancy Gohring

Clearwire bought some spectrum from a North Carolina company: CT Communications is selling the spectrum for $16 million. It’s not clear what area the licenses cover, but they are in the BRS (formerly MMDS) band as well as what this article calls Educational Broadband Service (I’m thinking this is what used to be known as ITFS.).

UPDATE: A reader kindly sent along a link that lists which areas are covered by the licenses recently bought by Clearwire.

Posted by nancyg at 3:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Intel and Nokia to Collaborate

By Nancy Gohring

Intel and Nokia said they’ll work together on encouraging the development and deployment of WiMax: Intel has made similar announcements with loads of operators and vendors. I’d be curious to know exactly what such alliances produce. Still, the alliance is a bit of a coup for Intel, since Nokia initially joined the WiMax Forum, then pulled out, then joined again (although the flip flopping didn’t stop Nokia from calling itself a founding member of the forum in this press release). It seems that Nokia has finally decided to seriously back the standard. As part of the announcement, Nokia said it will include WiMax support in its network equipment, though it’s not clear to me if Nokia is pledging to develop its own WiMax gear or resell someone else’s. This move follows some of its competitors, including Alcatel, who are moving toward producing base stations that support the widest possible number of network technologies.

The press release about the Intel/Nokia collaboration also says that the companies will work on demonstrating to the industry how WiMax can enhance data capabilities while complementing 3G. This is a crucial endeavor. I think the telecom industry as a whole is very confused about how 3G and WiMax fit together and I don’t think the WiMax Forum or its members have done a particularly good job of explaining it—perhaps because they haven’t quite figured it out themselves.

Posted by nancyg at 3:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 9, 2005

U.S. Wireless to Deploy Aperto Gear

By Nancy Gohring

Wireless ISP U.S. Wireless said it is deploying Aperto’s pre-WiMax gear throughout its service area: U.S. Wireless has already deployed the gear in some markets but says it will do so throughout its 11-State territory. This kind of news is further evidence that these types of operators are chomping at the bit to get some new equipment. They’re willing to deploy now rather than wait for the official certified gear. This could also be partly due to the fact that some vendors are almost exclusively focusing on their WiMax equipment, leaving operators little choice if they want to upgrade or extend their networks.

Posted by nancyg at 5:08 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 8, 2005

WiMax Faces Scattered Spectrum Challenges

By Nancy Gohring

I wrote a story for a special WiMax supplement produced by Telephony looking at the global spectrum situation for WiMax: It reads a bit like a list of which frequencies might be used for WiMax in many regions around the globe. But the conclusion is that it is a really splintered situation. The best chance for a near-harmonized approach would be in the 2.5 GHz band. But there are huge “ifs” surrounding that band in Europe, where the spectrum won’t even be distributed until 2008. There’s a chance that regulators will cave to pressure from the cell phone carriers and try to prevent WiMax from being deployed in the band.

Leap in Ireland presents an interesting case too. The operator is using the 3.6 GHz band and gear from Aperto. But the 3.6 GHz band isn’t hugely interesting in many areas so it’s low on the priority list at the WiMax Forum. If 3.6 GHz was on the list of frequencies to be certifiable, it would mean more vendors would be apt to build to the band and the cost of equipment could drop even further.

Absent a single frequency to be used worldwide, the best solution is for the Forum to certify as many bands as possible. Eventually vendors can make gear that can operate in multiple frequencies, lowering costs for all and ultimately allowing for roaming. But between now and then there will be a lot of wrangling.

Almost as a case in point, Alvarion announced that it is making its BreezeMax gear available in the 2.3 GHz WCS band in the U.S. as well as the 2.5 GHz MMDS band (which apparently is being called BRS these days). While this could be useful for operators in the U.S. that have spectrum in those bands, the gear won’t be officially certified until the Forum gets to testing those bands.

Posted by nancyg at 3:08 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Softcom Builds Mesh in Galt, Calif.

By Nancy Gohring

ISP Softcom built a mesh network in Galt, Calif.: BelAir supplied the network, which covers four square miles and 4,000 residents and uses 45 BelAir access points. An astounding 1,000 users are pre-subscribed to the network, which is only half built so far. The press release says that residents now have an alternative to DSL or cable modem service, but I’m not totally sure that means that those services are available to residents in this area.

The ISP took an interesting approach to building the network. In exchange for cheaper access, residents allowed Softcom to install the access points on the roofs of their houses. I’d do that. It’s a great idea, although I can imagine potential annoying problems with it. Softcom is also working with the city on ways to allow city workers and emergency services to securely use the network.

Posted by nancyg at 2:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

BellSouth to Trial Broadband Wireless

By Nancy Gohring

BellSouth plans to launch a broadband wireless service in Athens, Georgia: Navini will supply the network. The companies are calling this a “pre-WiMax” network. Navini has been offering a portable solution, including PCMCIA cards and small portable modems, for a while. Navini is working with the 802.16e committee and plans to be WiMax compliant but not until 802.16e. To me, that means it’s a bit of a stretch to call Navini’s current generation products “pre-WiMax.” Most people using the “pre-WiMax” term today are referring to products that are aiming to be compliant with the first generation fixed WiMax standard. Regardless, the fact that BellSouth chose Navini shows that both portability and standards-compliance are likely important issues for BellSouth.

Posted by nancyg at 2:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 7, 2005

Odd Claims from Supercomm

By Nancy Gohring

Redline, IBM, and TowerStream are demonstrating a broadband network at Supercomm: The problem is, they are claiming this is the “world’s first live, ‘over the air’ demonstration of equipment that is compliant to the IEE 802.16-2004 standard.” It’s unclear to me what these companies are claiming is a “first” here. Certainly not that they are demonstrating IEEE 802.16-2004 compliant equipment. Since no one has claimed the authority to check whether a piece of equipment is compliant to the 802.16-2004 standard, that’s not really an exciting claim. Loads of vendors have built equipment to the standard. The important piece is complying with the definition described by the WiMax Forum, which has yet to officially certify anything.

With that potential “first” out of the way, I’m baffled about the claim. The demonstration will stream video feeds from cameras on a building. I sincerely doubt this will be the first time someone has streamed live video over broadband wireless equipment.

Not only have there been countless demonstrations of gear that is to be submitted for WiMax certification, there are also plenty of live networks using such gear. Looks like typical trade show hype.

Posted by nancyg at 5:10 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

SkyPilot Intros Dual-Band Mesh Solution

By Nancy Gohring

SkyPilot will begin offering a new mesh network product: The dual-radio platform uses Wi-Fi in the 2.4 GHz spectrum to reach end users and a separate 5 GHz radio for mesh backhaul. Wireless ISP MetroFi is endorsing the platform.

The mesh market is getting increasingly crowded. While many of the mesh companies use proprietary technologies, they also tend to leverage standards like Wi-Fi as much as they can, meaning that the lack of an overall standard may not be a huge issue. Operators must use the same vendor for an individual network, but they can still use different vendors in different markets. End users can usually employ standard Wi-Fi gear so the proprietary barrier doesn’t affect customer premise equipment.

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June 3, 2005

Mark Your Calendars

By Nancy Gohring

The WiMax World conference is set for its second year and will take place in October in Boston: The conference planners have issued a call for session proposals. The WiMax Forum is a sponsor and many of the big names in WiMax are serving on the advisory board for the conference.

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Taipei Grows Network

By Nancy Gohring

Nortel is expanding the mesh network that covers much of Taipei: By the end of this year, the network is expected to consist of 10,000 access points that will provide coverage to 90 percent of Taipei’s 272 square kilometers. Already 28 subway stations and five underground shopping plazas are covered. In cooperation with Wireless Valley, Nortel developed a tool called MeshPlanner that helps map out where the access points should be located. Qware will operate the network.

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Bell Canada Adds Voice

By Nancy Gohring

Bell Canada is enabling voice over a broadband wireless network in Alberta: Bell Canada uses wired and wireless links to serve customers and is deploying a product from DragonWave that will enable voice over IP over the wireless network. There’s not a lot of detail here so it’s unclear if customers will be business users or residential customers. The announcement isn’t online yet but ought to appear here eventually.

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Intel to Show Glenfield

By Nancy Gohring

Intel plans to demonstrate its Glenfield reference design for WiMax base stations at Supercomm: The boards use Intel’s own MAC (media access control) and physical layer from PicoChip. Intel says the boards are being evaluated by vendors. Intel typically focuses on making components for end user equipment, rather then network gear. We’ll have to see how Intel manages to compete for a share of the network equipment market.

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June 2, 2005

All Eyes on Singapore

By Nancy Gohring

While earlier this week we covered Pacific Internet’s plan to build a WiMax network in Singapore, I didn’t really touch on the bigger picture: In May, Singapore distributed licenses, I believe in the 2.5 GHz band, to six companies. In addition to WiMax trials, operators in Singapore have also tested out networks from Arraycomm and IPWireless. Singapore could serve to be one of the earliest markets to get widespread broadband wireless that could compete with the cellular operators. If the operators choose a variety of technologies, Singapore could become a great experiment to watch how the technologies compare and compete when live in the marketplace. [Link via WISP Centric]

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Alliance Formed for WiMax Roaming

By Nancy Gohring

RemotePipes has started up the WiMax Global Roaming Alliance: The group will aim to settle on standards for authentication and accounting methods for network operators that wish to allow their customers to roam. This strikes me as a tad bit premature given that networks aren’t even built so roaming won’t be an issue for quite a while, however, sooner is better than later for working out these sorts of issues.

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Stonebridge Expands

By Nancy Gohring

An operator in the Midwest U.S. is expanding its wireless network: Stonebridge uses Alvarion gear in the 900 MHz, 2.4 MHz, and 5 GHz frequencies to serve customers covering 1,000 square miles in parts of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. This operator sounds like a bit of a poster child for wireless, using wireless to backhaul the network as well as for last mile access. Stonebridge is using Alvarion’s BreezeAccess gear, not the BreezeMax gear, which is the line most often sold by Alvarion to operators interested in migrating to WiMax.

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