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Intel says it intends to test WiMax in Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines; South Korea already way ahead: Intel will start its trials by the end of 2005 with the intent to help providers roll out service within two to three years in the first three of those countries. South Korea is ahead of the pack with a commercial roll-out expected in the first half of 2006.
The two companies pooled their spectrum into Inukshuk Internet: The joint venture will spend Cdn$200 million over three years to build a network spanning 40 cities and 50 rural areas. They also hope to roam onto Clearwire’s network, and will use NextNet’s equipment, same as Clearwire, NextNet’s parent firm. Spectrum is question falls across 2.3, 2.5, and 3.5 GHz. No mention on price, speed, or ubiquity within served areas.
The U.S. firm has markets in the U.S, and has launched commercially in Dublin with Copenhagen to follow: Broadband penetration in Ireland is the staggeringly low rate of 3.3 percent. Clearwire’s service costs about the same as DSL, but doesn’t require the mandatory line charge that comes with DSL. The official launch of Clearwire in Ireland is mid-October, but the service can be ordered now.
The Copenhagen launch should be in the fourth quarter, with other cities to follow. Clearwire acquired a Danish firm with existing license holdings. Clearwire already operates wireless broadband services in Brussels.
SkyPilot has three announcements today: The company has, since its inception, focused on unlicensed bands using somewhat proprietary technology that’s similar to Wi-Fi but with tweaks to allow it to work in mesh and other configurations. They’ve been trying to solve the final mile problem well in advance of WiMax’s arrival and at a much lower price point than competitors.
Their announcements today signal their move into licensed and unlicensed WiMax using Fujitsu chips at some point in the future; development of hardware to use the 4.9 GHz US public and international broad use band; and their equipment will be used by MetroFi for $50,000 per square mile metropolitan deployments.
Each of these moves would be significant for a company that’s been in business several years without a major win. Technically, their products have always seemed very interesting and well developed to me. But because of their limited portfolio and no deployments, it was a hard sell.
Sprint will use Samsung equipment: The tests will be in the 2.5 GHz band, a band which the combined Sprint-Nextel merged entity owns a large majority of in the U.S. This pre-standard testing of mobile WiMax may not yield practical results for a year or more. Still, it could allow Sprint to offer dramatically higher speeds than competitors because of the larger spectrum slices they possess. (Meanwhile, the FCC has proposed reorganizing that entire band, but that seems in abeyance at the moment, and might have been a Powell project.)
Nortel announced it will release fixed and mobile WiMax products: They’ll work with Airspan on 3.5 GHz and 5.8 GHz fixed WiMax, and help Intel promote the overall idea of WiMax. They’ll have commercial versions available in early 2006 for fixed WiMax. On the mobile side, they’re developing WiMax and WiBro implementations, which they plan to put into trials in 2006 in North America.
Unstrung reports that the Task Group E in 802.16 for mobile broadband wireless is nearly done: The current draft could come back clean, which would then lead the way to ratification. 802.16e will most likely be the basis of mobile WiMax, allowing the WiMax Forum to certify equipment that will compete with mesh Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi hotspots, and third-generation cellular data networks.
The current prediction is late 2006 for products based on 802.16e, but given delays in WiMax development and certification, I would believe the whispers about 2007 to 2008 timeframe, instead. This protocol is one reason why cell carriers are spending so much to deploy high-speed data ahead of the market’s interest in their licensed spectrum.
Forward Concepts report indicates massive growth: With WiMax viewed in their report as complementary to Wi-Fi and cellular, not a full replacement for either, carriers and other will use WiMax as a major component in deployment. One comment I’ve heard often is that cellular carriers in the U.S. are likely to follow their European counterparts and use more wireless backhaul among cellular towers instead of wired.
Former editor Nancy Gohring files this report for IDG News Service on WiMax’s role between DSL and T1: It’s much cheaper for businesses who need certain levels of service that fall outside DSL offerings but don’t want to pay the often high cost of DSL to choose WiMax-like options. T-1 is charged typically by the mile from the central office, which makes it cheap in some urban areas and in areas with competition, but very expensive in many parts of many cities. In some towns, just a plain T1 with a zero mile (intra-central office) charge is still very expensive.
WiMax and its ilk make it affordable to deliver T-1 or fractional T-1 speeds at a cost that’s not nearly as dependent on distance, only coverage area. While business DSL services—such as symmetric DSL and other flavors—can sometimes meet T-1 reliability and speed, WiMax et al. is a much simpler way to achieve goals in appropriate locations.
There’s also the T-1-plus problem, mentioned in passing in this article. Seattle’s Speakeasy Networks, which offers nationwide DSL and T-1 services, has a pre-WiMax network running in downtown Seattle using Alvarion’s WiMax ready base stations and CPEs. They found that a lot of their business customers wanted flavors higher than 1.5 Mbps each way, and that multiple T-1s cost too much. Two T-1s deliver symmetrical 3 Mbps (3 each way) when bound together. Their broadband wireless offering is 3 Mbps or 6 Mbps sliced as 2/4, 4/2, 3/3, or 2/1, 1/2, or 1.5/1.5, respectively.
Intel is deploying WiMax in some Katrina-hit areas: The FCC has granted waivers to allow 3.5 GHz use, which means Intel can provide WiMax-ready equipment for use. This AP story doesn’t mention the actual vendor involved; it may be in-house Intel reference designs.
BlogWiMax is a new Spanish-language site with news on the broadband wireless standard: As WiMax spreads internationally, expect more regional and language-focused blogs to emerge.
Alvarion ships customer-premises equipment (CPE) devices that use Intel’s WiMax chips: The announcement is a little obscure, and I spoke to Alvarion to work out the details. They’re shipping the BreezeMAX Pro CPE, which is what they call WiMax Ready CPEs. The device uses the Intel PRO/Wireless 5116. These aren’t WiMax-certified devices, and the chips may change between now and when certification for the chips is finalized.
Vice president of marketing at Alvarion, Carlton O’Neal, said in an interview, “This is a precursor to having a certified chip and CPE in the first half of next year.” O’Neal is bearish on certification, noting that the October testing by the WiMax Forum will probably have a reduced featureset that may not provide enough interoperable guarantees for major carriers to deploy equipment based on that iteration of WiMax.
But Alvarion has seen an uptake of its BreezeMax base station, which is being used in unlicensed bands in smaller towns and for niche purposes by companies that include Verizon and BellSouth. O’Neal said that as the base station was upgraded for WiMax certification, it would continue to support earlier generations of CPE designed for it, including the BreezeMax Pro CPE.
The Pro CPE will upgradable, O’Neal said: “The commitment we’ve made is that we would make a software and/or firmware upgrade for those BreezeMax base stations.” However, he noted, there may be “some money changing hands” and early deployers may have no need to swap out CPEs if the certified featureset offers no substantive improvements that can’t be delivered via firmware.
Deutsche Telekom will try out Alvarion’s WiMax technology for 100 hard-to-reach customers: DT’s T-Com unit has an enormous DSL footprint (6.7 million broadband lines), and wants to reach those they can’t bring high-speed Internet over wire to. The trial seems awfully small given that it will last through March 2006—100 customers near Bonn, Germany.
The UK firm has rolled out its Skylink service across Kent in Southeast England: The service provides up to 10 Mbps of service in each direction along with VoIP. The fiber/wireless backbone crosses 1,300 square kilometers, 675,000 households, and 60,000 businesses.
The symmetric offering is critical, Telabria says in its press release, because it’s so seldom available. Businesses need upstream bandwidth to serve Web pages, transfer huge documents, and push material out to clients, customers, and the general public. The company offers 1.5 Mbps to 10 Mbps at distances of up to 12.5 miles from a base station.
Skylink offers 1.5 Mbps symmetric for £49.99 per month and 3 Mbps for £79.99 per month. Premium symmetric services are £249 for 5 Mbps and £369 for 10 Mbps. Residential asymmetric services include 1.5 Mbps (£24.99) and 3 Mbps (£34.99) downstream with 512 Kbps upstream.
A full variety of VoIP options for personal and business use are also available as overlays.
The service uses 5.8 GHz bandwidth and pre-WiMax gear which Telabria is referring to as “WiMax-class” equipment. Since WiMax devices aren’t certified yet, it’s all about performance rather than interoperability.
Telabria has also installed 74 Wi-Fi hotspots. Skylink subscribers will have free access to those locations, some of which are in London and the rest throughout the Southeast.