Airspan Preps OEM Deal

Broadband wireless vendor is set to announce high-profile WiMax partnership – Ericsson appears likely candidate

June 21, 2005

3 Min Read
Airspan Preps OEM Deal

Broadband wireless vendor Airspan Networks Inc. says it's scored another high-profile OEM deal in the WiMax market but is declining to identify its new partner.

Airspan has already announced reseller agreements for 802.16 kit with Fujitsu and Marconi Corp. plc (Nasdaq: MRCIY; London: MONI), and tells Unstrung that a new big-name vendor will soon be added to this list (see Fujitsu Resells Airspan WiMax and Marconi Teams With Airspan).

"It's definitely someone you've heard of," says Airspan’s VP of product management and marketing, Paul Senior. “We have many OEM partners... That’s where revenue will come from.”

So who are the potential candidates?

On paper, at least, Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERICY) appears the strongest contender.

Ericsson announced its membership in the WiMAX Forum in December last year but is yet to outline a market strategy for development of 802.16 equipment (see Ericsson Hovers on WiMax). An OEM agreement with Airspan would give Ericsson a route into the fixed-wireless WiMax market.

“Ericsson should consider announcing its WiMAX product plans,” wrote Current Analysis's Peter Jarich in a recent report. "At the end of last year, the vendor joined the WiMAX Forum and noted that WiMAX would be a part of its public Ethernet offering. Since then, however, few details have been released on how (or when) it would actually bring products to market. As vendors move to get their WiMAX solutions certified next month, the market is quickly shaping up; if Ericsson plans to be a credible player, it will need to reveal its strategy soon.”

Ericsson is keeping its lips tightly sealed. "Since the standardization is not finalized yet, we do not want to make any further announcements on future product launches at this stage," writes a spokeswoman in an email note to Unstrung.

Meanwhile, rivals such as Alcatel (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA), Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU), and Siemens AG (NYSE: SI; Frankfurt: SIE) have already teamed with Alvarion Ltd. (Nasdaq: ALVR) for supply of fixed wireless 802.16 kit (see Alvarion & Alcatel Get Fixed Up, Lucent to Resell Alvarion, and Siemens Chooses Alvarion).

Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) has announced plans to develop its "Canopy WiMAX platform" for the licensed 3.5GHz band, and Nortel Networks Ltd. (NYSE/Toronto: NT) says it will contribute its own expertise in multiple-input/multiple-output (MIMO) smart antenna systems and Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM) signal processing techniques to work on the fixed-wireless 802.16 standard (see Moto Maxes on Canopy and Nortel's WiMax Coming Out).

Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) also appears an unlikely fit for Airspan. The Finnish vendor was last week linked to a potential OEM deal with Alvarion following its intention to target the mobile WiMax space (see Nokia Commits to Mobile WiMax and Wireless Scuttlebutt). A spokesman for Nokia stressed that it is "too early" to announce a decision on any potential WiMax equipment partnership.

— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung

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