Outspoken RAD Chairman Zohar Zisapel says fixed WiMax will stall and that wireline incumbent operators are in trouble

May 15, 2006

2 Min Read
Zisapel Zings Innovating Incumbents

Zohar Zisapel, chairman of RAD Data Communications Ltd. and the founder of no fewer than 27 companies, knows what he sees, and he isn’t shy about calling it like he sees it.

When popping into Light Reading HQ last week after ringing the bell on Nasdaq for two of his companies, Zisapel had some zingers: For example, he says that the incumbent telcos "may go bankrupt." And he says that fixed WiMax may be doomed.

The Israeli entrepreneur oversees activity of the RAD Group., a loosely knit collection of both public and private companies that includes Ceragon Networks Ltd. (Nasdaq: CRNT), Radvision Ltd. (Nasdaq: RVSN), Radware Ltd. (Nasdaq: RDWR), and Radwin , among many others.

“Fixed WiMax will never fly,” he says. “It’s being squeezed between WiFi, which can do most of the things that it can do... and mobile WiMax, which is incompatible. WiFi will eat its lunch.”

Of course, Zisapel has an axe to grind. His wireless equipment company Radwin is modifying existing WiFi technology to make it more like the technology set to be delivered by the mobile WiMax 802.16e protocol. In short, it's looking to develop a proprietary sort of mobile WiMax.

In addition to having unambiguous opinions about WiMax, Zisapel is equally as frank about where he thinks the major incumbent service providers are going.

”They will go bankrupt, I think, if they keep doing what they are doing. The are having problems with the mobile operators. In Israel there are three times as many mobile phones as there are [regular phones]. The other problem is the Internet, like Skype Ltd. . You are getting phone calls for free or at a very low cost.”

For this, says Zisapel, the large incumbents have the wrong answer. “The incumbents are trying to fight it by becoming very sophisticated, offering all kinds of service, and they're not good at that -- they are not good at innovation. They should understand that they are a utility. They could become a very sophisticated utility selling bits per second at different prices."

So what about the things that are working?

"There are hot things in different times," says Zisapel. Today, he sees the hot markets as wireless and video, which are represented by his companies Radvision and Radwin.

Radvision is working a videoconferencing switch for collaborative applications, including a deal with Microsoft for its Office Communicator product.

Zisapel expects Internet video to finally arrive as the "next big thing." He says he's been "waiting for it to explode."

See more of what Zisapel has to say in the LRTV interview, located here: Zohar Zisapel, Chairman, RAD Group.

— R. Scott Raynovich, Editor in Chief, Light Reading

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