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Backhaul Buzzing

It's wireless backhaul Wednesday today.

At least, that's what it looks like from the slew of cellular backhaul news released today.

The backhaul buzz today shows that carriers are pushing ahead to shift from TDM to IP-based backhaul systems; Ethernet microwave business in North America is picking up for one vendor; and some vendors still see room in the market for new microwave solutions.

  • Israeli microwave backhaul specialist Ceragon Networks Ltd. (Nasdaq: CRNT) announced a deal to supply Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. (Hong Kong: 0013; Pink Sheets: HUWHY)'s 3Group with its FibeAir IP-10 platform. (See Hutchison Backhauls With Ceragon.)

    Hutchison has 3G operations in Australia, Austria, Denmark, Hong Kong, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Sweden, and the U.K. The operator will deploy Ceragon's Ethernet microwave solution in three of those markets -- some of which will be in Europe -- but the vendor could not disclose which ones, according to a Ceragon spokesman.

    The operator is migrating its TDM-based backhaul systems to IP, and Ceragon will be part of that transition. Since Hutchison needs higher capacity and is shifting to IP, "they need a system that can interface with any TDM system they have and can be upgraded to future IP [systems]," a spokesman says.

    The deal is a boost for Ceragon, which in March said that sales cycles had slowed in most of its regions. The vendor did not disclose the size of the deal, but one local report suggests the value of the contract is between $5 million and $10 million in the first year. (See Ceragon's Backhaul Sales Slow and Ceragon Gets LTE Ready, and Ceragon Rides Backhaul Wave.)

  • Ethernet microwave vendor DragonWave Inc. (AIM/Toronto: DWI; Nasdaq: DRWI) reported firs-quarter results for its fiscal year 2010. The vendor reported record quarterly revenues of C$16 million, up 49 percent compared with revenues of C$10.7 million in the same period last year. But the vendor recorded a net loss of C$2.9 million for the quarter -- up from C$1.9 million in the same quarter last year -- C$1.7 million of which the company attributes to foreign exchange losses. (See Dragonwave Reports Q1 Results.)

    Despite the quarterly loss, Dragonwave maintains that it will be profitable this fiscal year and expects full-year revenues of C$100 million. The company cut 13 percent of its staff (20 positions) at the end of last year and has prepared itself for unwanted takeover bids by drawing up a shareholder rights plan at the start of this year. (See DragonWave Cuts Staff and Is DragonWave Ripe for Takeover? )

    Last week, the vendor added newly licensed 3G Canadian operator GlobaliveWireless to its North American customer base, which is dominated by flagship customer Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR). (See Sprint Rides DragonWave for Backhaul, Clearwire Backhaul Manifesto, and Clearwire's Backhaul Bet.)

  • Proxim Wireless Corp. unveiled today a new family of point-to-point and point-to-multipoint products, dubbed Tsunami, for backhaul aimed at cellular carriers deploying Long Term Evolution (LTE) or WiMax. The products are also targeted at wireless Internet service providers (WISPs) for last-mile access and government organizations for video surveillance applications. (See Proxim Unveils Backhaul Gear.)

    The Tsunami QB-8100 (point-to-point) and the Tsunami MP-8100 (point-to-multipoint) have capacity ranging from 300 Mbit/s to 600 Mbit/s -- a coverage range 70 kilometers -- and latency times of around 1 to 2 milliseconds.

    List prices start at $6,599 for the QB-8100 and $1,549 for the MP-8100 products.

    — Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Unstrung

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