Backhaul Player Guns for WiMax

Microwave backhaul specialist Harris Stratex Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: HSTX) has joined forces with WiMax vendor Telsima Corp. to offer a WiMax system that spans from customer connectivity to the network core for carriers in emerging markets. (See Harris Does WiMax and Harris Stratex, Telsima Team.)

Harris told Unstrung about its new WiMax strategy last week, but it only just announced that Telsima is the WiMax vendor that will help to make it happen.

Telsima contributes the 802.16e customer premises equipment (CPE), base stations, and management and provisioning systems to form part of Harris's new 7000 Series WiMax platform. The microwave backhaul company says it will also bring together ASN gateways, connectivity service network (CSN) and billing platforms, and network management and operation software to fill out the complete offering.

"We don't want to stay a one-radio company. Why not provide the complete radio access network and everything that goes with it?" Shaun McFall, VP of marketing at Harris Stratex, told Unstrung. "Our geographic footprint and our customer base... allow us to support a number of other things as well. The technology is not that different from what we play with every day, anyway."

But Harris Stratex isn't the only vendor partnering up this week to do turnkey WiMax networks.

Redline Communications Inc. , one of Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR)'s microwave backhaul suppliers, does backhaul and WiMax access equipment. The vendor has just partnered with ASN gateway maker Starent Networks Corp. (Nasdaq: STAR), CSN specialist Aptilo Networks AB , and systems integrator Tech Mahindra Ltd. to deliver its own end-to-end WiMax proposition. (See Starent, Redline Partner, Redline, Mahindra Team Up, Redline Creates New Unit, Aptilo Spews News, and Clearwire Backhaul Manifesto.)

With its new offering, Redline plans to target Tier 1 and Tier 2 operators in the Middle East, Africa, South America, and parts of Southeast Asia, as well as Tier 3 greenfield service providers in those markets, according to Kevin Suitor, VP of marketing and business development at Redline. These deals follow news from the summer that ECI Telecom Ltd. , Ceragon Networks Ltd. (Nasdaq: CRNT), and Alvarion Technologies Ltd. (Nasdaq: ALVR) had teamed up to deliver a complete WiMax network for utility company ELRO in Denmark, which plans to complete a national WiMax network by 2010. (See ECI Teams for Danish WiMax .)

These tie-ups indicate that WiMax equipment interoperability has progressed enough to let smaller vendors piece together systems to compete with the likes of Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), and Samsung Corp.

"These partnerships demonstrate to the market that they no longer need to do a single-vendor solution," says Redline's Suitor. "It's all very open and there are no proprietary interfaces. We've spent months on interoperability testing."

In other words, this is how smaller WiMax players can take on the big vendors.

“Most of the opportunities in WiMax equipment sales are relatively small deals with second- and third-tier carriers," says Patrick Donegan, senior analyst at Heavy Reading. "Many of these carriers want the flexibility and best-of-breed R&D focus of small and medium-sized companies, but they also want the end-to-end turnkey capabilities of the kind typically associated with bigger vendors. These partnerships are designed to enable small and medium-sized vendors to be able to tick both boxes and thereby establish a competitive advantage over the bigger vendors in the WiMax infrastructure market.”

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Unstrung

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