Alvarion Breezes Into WiMax
The pre-WiMax kit -- dubbed BreezeMAX 3500 -- is targeted at carriers that are looking to deploy wireless broadband services but aren’t prepared to wait for WiMax equipment (see Alvarion Touts WiMax Kit).
For those folks who played truant at tech school, WiMAX is the WiMax Forum’s name for the 802.16a wireless MAN standard (see Working for the MAN). The forum is not expected to ratify WiMax-certified products until late this year or early 2005.
Initial products bearing the WiMax badge are due to be based on the 802.16 revision d specification, intended as a high-speed, fixed wireless, cable/DSL replacement technology. A faster variant intended for applications where the user is mobile -- 802.16a version e -- is expected to follow.
Alvarion’s VP of marketing, Carlton O’Neal, plays down any potential problems with its pre-WiMax kit entering the market before the real deal is ratified.
“The guys on the WiMax Forum, the guys on the 802.16 committee, and the guys that built this product are the same folks,” he tells Unstrung. “Yeah we are flying the plane whilst we are building it, but we are pretty comfortable with that.”
O’Neal states that the company has an “upgrade path” planned once the standard is ratified. “We will add software and firmware to it so that it can support WiMax-certified CPEs [customer premises equipment]... We are being honest about our shortcomings. It is a WiMax product but it doesn’t have an Intel chip in it yet and it isn’t certified.” (See Intel's WiMax Drive.)
The marketing man claims that “customer pressure” was a major catalyst for product launch. “We have customers asking, so we want to deliver... We already have a couple of commercial customers deploying it: one in Latin America, one in Europe, and one in Asia. We will be making announcements over the next few weeks.”
Alvarion isn’t alone in talking up WiMax-ish kit. Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA) has teamed with Navini Networks Inc. on pre-WiMAX technology, while Aperto Networks and Wi-LAN Inc. (Toronto: WIN) have deployed services using a WiMax-like service (see Alcatel's Not Waiting for WiMax, Aperto Unveils WiMax Roadmap, Wi-LAN Extends Finnish Net, and WiMax Gets Serious).
— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung