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Alcatel's Not Waiting for WiMax

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LR Mobile News Analysis
Light Reading
4/22/2004

Massif French infrastructure player Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA) says its new OEM deal with startup Navini Networks Inc. is intended to cater to customers that aren't prepared to wait for WiMax equipment – they want fixed wireless kit now (see Alcatel Signs Navini OEM).

"Navini is for customers that want fixed wireless now, or just want to trial pre-WiMax technology," says an Alcatel spokesperson. "It fits with the rest of our broadband offerings."

The firm is rebadging Navini's Riptide fixed wireless infrastructure equipment (see Navini's Mobility Move).

Does that mean Alcatel is abandoning WiMax? No. Alcatel is working with Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) to develop WiMax boxes based on the 802.16a revision d (or revision e) specification. These non-line-of-sight (NLOS) wireless metropolitan area network (MAN) basestations are intended to deliver data at tens of megabits per second over distances of up to thirty miles.

That all sounds great – but the WiMax boxes are unlikely to be on the market until the middle of 2005, and that means carriers are unlikely to have services up and running until 2006 at the earliest.

By happy coincidence, Navini just happens to have joined the WiMax Forum, after initially backing the rival 802.20 specification (see WiMax Gets 'Smart').

The Navini deal is the lastest sign of Alcatel's desire to build out the wireless LAN and MAN areas of its product line. In addition to the Intel WiMax deal, the gallic giant also has a WiFi hotspot deal with Colubris Networks Inc. and an 802.11 switch agreement with Airespace Inc.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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