Alvarion & Alcatel Get Fixed Up

Alcatel (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA) has turned to broadband wireless vendor Alvarion Ltd. (Nasdaq: ALVR) for the development of fixed-wireless 802.16d kit but plans to produce its own mobile WiMax equipment in le future.

The French infrastructure giant today revealed plans to resell Alvarion’s "pre-Wimax" BreezeMax product based on the 802.16d standard (see Alvarion Wins Alcatel OEM Deal and Alvarion Breezes Into WiMax).

Last June, the latest version of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE)’s 802.16d fixed-wireless standard was ratified, amid hopes that the mobile version of the specification -- 802.16e -- will be completed sometime this year (see WiMax Spec Ratified).

“Today’s agreement is to respond to customer demand for fixed-wireless equipment, but we are developing an e product for mobility,” says Bruno Potdevin, VP for business development and marketing at Alcatel’s broadband access division. “Our target is to deploy our 802.16e equipment in the second half of 2006.”

The deal builds on an earlier OEM partnership between the two companies focused on local broadband radio loop equipment, signed back in 1999.

This latest partnership is a blow to startup vendor Navini Networks Inc.. Last April Alcatel announced a fixed-wireless OEM deal with Navini that now appears to have been pushed to the sidelines (see Alcatel Signs Navini OEM and Alcatel's Not Waiting for WiMax).

Alcatel’s Potdevin [ed. note: French for bribe or hush money -- really!] claims the Navini agreement “is still operating” but talks up the benefits of Alvarion’s offering. “Navini’s kit is based on a macro base station, which is therefore very expensive. One of the advantages of our agreement with Alvarion is that its micro base station is available today.”

For Alvarion, today’s deal marks its third major 802.16 OEM network vendor win, following earlier triumphs with Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU) and Siemens AG (NYSE: SI; Frankfurt: SIE). (See Lucent to Resell Alvarion and Siemens Chooses Alvarion.)

— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung

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