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Qwest and Time Warner are both conducting broadband wireless trials around Denver: There’s not a lot of news here, but it’s a nice roundup with specifics about where the trials have been taking place. It sounds like Qwest is still planning on a trial with 800 customers once certified gear becomes available.
Orange and Intel supplied a hotspot to journalists at the Tour de France: The Wi-Fi hotspot used WiMax for backhaul. Apparently the companies uninstalled and reinstalled every day as the press entourage moved from venue to venue following the tour.
Alcatel is working with the electric company on a WiMax trial in the Alsace region of France: It sounds like just one WiMax base station is deployed, on equipment owned by the electric company and using the electric company’s fiber network for backhaul. The base station will supply connections to residents, businesses, a school, a library, and city hall. No mention of what spectrum is being used.
Clearwire may have plans to buy 3.5 GHz licenses in every European country where the spectrum becomes available: The company, owned by Craig McCaw, is notoriously tight-lipped about its plans but an executive at Clearwire told Caroline Gabriel, research director at Rethink Research Associates in London, about the operator’s ambitions. Clearwire has backed away from a license tender in Austria due to restrictions on deploying portable services in the band, she said. But Gabriel believes Clearwire could still enter the Austrian market through an acquisition at a later date if the regulator loosens up.
Early last week Clearwire reportedly invested as much as 15 million Euros in Danske Telecom for a partnership to deploy broadband wireless in Denmark. The companies hope to launch networks in three cities including Copenhagen this year. Last year Clearwire reportedly won 3.5 GHz licenses covering Copenhagen.
Clearwire also owns licenses in Belgium and Gabriel expects that market to come next. At least one executive at another broadband wireless company in Ireland recently said that Clearwire has been quite active deploying equipment in Ireland and a launch might be expected this summer. Clearwire spokespeople in Ireland have not responded to requests for comment.
Some reports have Clearwire also owning a license in Bulgaria and Gabriel suggests that Clearwire has been active in Italy also.
There’s not a lot new here, but it’s reassuring to hear Nextel say it expects to build a network at some point: Interestingly, Nextel’s chief casually mentions NextNet as a company with an interesting fixed offering that can migrate into mobility. NextNet is now owned by Craig McCaw, who has been a big investor in Nextel, though he resigned from the board there last year. Nextel has trialed networks from Flarion and is now trialing gear from IPWireless.
Motorola announced a bit of an increased focus on WiMax and a couple of new WiMax packages: I’m not totally sure that there’s anything actually new here. It could be just that Motorola is packaging its broadband wireless products into a complete offering for users. But it’s now offering what it calls the Moto Wi4 portfolio, which includes two lines. One targets developing countries, which are likely to continue using broadband wireless technologies. The other package is based on all-IP access. In the cellular world, Motorola was one of the first big vendors to really push the benefits of using an all-IP core and it looks like the company is extending that push into the broadband wireless realm.
Magnolia Broadband is pushing its smart antenna technology into the WiMax sector: ArrayComm, another smart antenna developer, recently joined the WiMax Forum and Intel said it would support ArrayComm’s technology in future client devices. Magnolia hints here that it has some sort of arrangement with Intel, which wouldn’t be that surprising given that virtually every company with an interest in WiMax has some sort of tie-up with Intel.
KT is hoping to converge its CDMA and WiBro networks: An executive spoke at the WiMax Forum meeting and he said that KT will hope to offer converged client devices that include CDMA, WiBro, and Wi-Fi. Because Korea will likely be the first to have a widespread mobile broadband wireless network when KT launches WiBro in the middle of next year, it’ll be the place to watch. If KT uses WiMax to essentially boost the speed of its CDMA network and if it meets success, other mobile operators around the globe may think harder about using WiMax themselves.
Adaptix showed off gear based on its channel cards at the Vancouver WiMax Forum meeting: The Seattle Times covered it, seeing as Adaptix is from Seattle. Adaptix demonstrated a mobile broadband wireless service that it is touting as the mobile version of WiMax. The demonstration delivered 1.5 Mbps downloads, comparable to what Flarion is delivering today and similar to IPWireless too. While this story appears to be a basic piece that just covers this demonstration, it’s also important to put these demos in perspective.
On a more interesting note, Daily Wireless reports that the IEEE may be getting close to an agreement on the mobile version of WiMax and may have some news in that regard when the group meets next week in San Francisco.
Broadband wireless players aren’t the only ones interested in the prime 2.3 GHz spectrum: XM, the satellite radio provider, just bought a bunch of 2.3 GHz licenses from a company called WCS Wireless (the 2.3 GHz band has been called the Wireless Communications Service band). The satellite radio guys use adjacent frequencies to the WCS band. This is unfortunate because it means that owners of the 2.3 GHz band in the U.S. can’t use the same gear as the Koreans will use because the U.S. users have to work around the satellite users.
It seems like there’s more going on at the WiMax Forum meeting then at the recent WCA conference: Most people I’ve talked to said there wasn’t much of a buzz at the recent WCA conference, traditionally the big show of the year for broadband wireless. But there’s plenty of hype around the WiMax Forum meeting in Vancouver, where a number of member companies will be running demonstrations of their products and applications. I’m not sure how many non-WiMax Forum members will be at the event, so these demonstrations may just be preaching to the choir.
The Forum also officially announced that the lab in Spain is open and beginning to certify equipment.
A company called Detecon has released a study concluding that WiMax won’t be terribly interesting to large wireline operators: Detecon is owned by T-Systems, a Deutsche Telekom division. Despite the many large wireline operators that have recently announced broadband wireless trials, including AT&T, BellSouth, and Covad, Detecon doesn’t expect great interest from large wireline operators. Judging from the ongoing trials, I suspect that Detecon is a bit off base. The Yankee Group’s Lindsay Schroth is one analyst who believes that while many observers may hope that WiMax is a tool that will allow new entrants into the market, it’s ultimately more likely that WiMax will be most widely deployed by the incumbents.
Switzerland is planning to distribute three broadband wireless licenses: The 3.5 GHz licenses will be nationwide and will be awarded via auction early next year. I think the regulator is leaving the door open to doing portable or mobile service in the band, but I’m not totally clear on that. [link via Eurotelcoblog.]
Covad is likely to launch a broadband wireless service early next year: The operator, which was one of the early operator members of the WiMax Forum, has been trialing broadband wireless in San Jose and Oakland, Calif. It’s not offering details about where or with what equipment. This story seems to conclude that Covad is likely to target business customers, but I don’t see any specific indication that it plans to solely focus on business customers. Covad’s existing DSL service has a significant base in residential areas.
Covad is set to be one of the earliest significant operators to launch a WiMax-like offering, although a slew of other big operators are conducting trials so they may soon follow suit.
WavMax said it is acquiring two wireless ISPs in Colorado: There seems to be a lot of consolidation going on in the wireless ISP market in the United States. Maybe with the potential of lower cost equipment in the future, due to the standardization of WiMax, some of these ISPs will be able to support larger businesses. US Wireless Online is one ISP that has made a lot of acquisitions. You can check out the list on the company Web site. MobilePro is another company that has acquired a lot of ISPs and a breeze through its press releases will give you an idea.
I couldn’t resist linking to this, for the sheer comedy of it: The group representing the interests of the CDMA world has commissioned a study looking at the “opportunities and challenges” of WiMax. Shockingly, the report finds that WiMax will have a “marginal impact, at best” on 3G. Ironically this report basically makes a factual conclusion—that it’s likely that WiMax and 3G will both have a place in the market. But it’s pretty hard to take something like this seriously knowing that it’s backed by a group that could feel some competition from WiMax and when the press release has some defensive-sounding statements. The reality is that while CDMA has a lot of life left in it, it’s relatively accepted that OFDM, the air interface that WiMax is based on, is the future.
This is a bit thin on details but it looks like Unwired swapped some spectrum with Austar: The result is that Unwired will concentrate on offering broadband wireless to the big cities in Australia and Austar will now serve more rural regions. Austar is planning to use WiMax to offer broadband wireless services.
On the heels of a big win in Finland, Flarion said it also won contracts for networks in Croatia and Malaysia: An operator will build a network in Zagreb, Croatia’s capital. The Malaysia network will target rural areas. Last week Flarion also announced that it will supply a network for an operator in Virginia.
On the flip side, Nextel said it is finally officially ceasing to support users on its Flarion network in North Carolina. This is sad news for loyal users of the network.
Alvarion introduced a self-installable CPE: Self installation was really one of the key original goals of WiMax. Some operators that have launched broadband wireless networks historically and failed, have said that the high cost of sending technicians out to install CPEs was one major issue that broke the business case. Self-installable CPEs will allow operators to send the modem to users who can set it up themselves, just like DSL or cable modem services.
ArrayComm joined the WiMax Forum: It appears though that ArrayComm joined not in an effort to make its broadband wireless network gear comply with WiMax but to push its smart antenna technology into WiMax. ArrayComm and Intel have said they’ll work together to include smart antenna technology in the 802.16e standard.
Brighton Council in the UK worked with a service provider for a broadband wireless network: The network will be used by the city and will also be offered to residents. The network was at least partly funded by the council and Techworld wonders if this might be the best model for municipal networks in the future. Basically Brighton Council said they’d use the network so the operator built it and now can also sell access to residents. There are some municipalities in the U.S. that have considered this type of private-public arrangement and it makes the most sense, although where the Brighton example gets sticky is that the council provided some funding for the build of the network. Ideally, a city might guarantee a minimum amount of usage on a network for a certain number of years so that an operator can make sure the business can work.
It’s true that the hubbub we’ve seen in the U.S. over city-sponsored networks doesn’t seem to have come up in other countries. I remember linking to a story with a quote from a BT executive saying that they wouldn’t make a fuss about it. But maybe that comment was made because at the time few councils in the UK were talking about funding networks.