Airspan Scores on WiMax

Broadband wireless vendor Airspan Networks has thrust itself into the WiMax spotlight, scoring a $12 million network contract win and an OEM deal with British equipment supplier Marconi Corp. plc (Nasdaq: MRCIY; London: MONI).

Earlier this week the Boca Raton, Fla.-headquartered company unveiled its 802.16 market offering with the release of both customer premises equipment (CPE) and point-to-multipoint base stations (see Airspan Unveils WiMax Portfolio).

The portfolio -- dubbed AS.MAX -- consists of two CPE devices using silicon from Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC), while its base station equipment deploys chipsets from PicoChip Designs Ltd. and Sequans Communications (see Airspan Builds on Intel, PicoChip Maxes With Airspan, and Sequans Wins Customers).

Airspan has followed this launch with a $12 million deal at Japanese service provider Yozan Inc. Commercial rollout of a fixed wireless 802.16d WiMax network in Tokyo is expected to begin in the fourth quarter of this year, ready for a December 2005 launch (see Airspan Maxes in Japan).

“It will be live before the end of the year using 600 base stations,” comments VP of marketing and product management, Paul Senior. “It’s targeting a hundred thousand users inside the first year. The base stations deployed will be upgradable to the 802.16e standard.”

Meanwhile the vendor has also signed Marconi as its first OEM resell partner in the 802.16 space (see Marconi Teams With Airspan). Last October, Marconi joined the WiMax Forum amid statements it would likely partner on the production of future 802.16 kit (see Marconi Hovers on WiMax).

“Officially it’s not an exclusive deal, but the practical implication is that it is,” says Alex Marshall, Marconi’s product marketing VP. Marshall states that Marconi has “almost certainly” ruled out any in-house development of 802.16d kit but is still mulling plans for 802.16e. “We haven’t decided on production yet. Watch this space.”

— Justin "ASS.MAX" Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung

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