Optical/IP Networks

Lucent Waffles on WiMax

Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU) appears in no hurry to reveal its strategy for the nascent WiMax wireless metropolitan area network (MAN) market, despite claims it is keeping a close eye on the technology’s development.

“Lucent is working closely with industry bodies, including the WiMax Forum, to ensure development and support of the 802.16 standard,” John Marinho, VP for management and marketing, writes in an email note to Unstrung.

All very well, but Lucent has not yet joined the WiMax Forum, the industry body aiming to promote and certify the compatibility and interoperability of WiMax-branded wireless products employing the latest revisions of the 802.16 standard from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE).

Marinho offers no suggestion as to when the vendor will sign up, adding only that the company regards the technology as “complementary” to 3G services.

“WiMax can play a role in a converged network services architecture that serves both wireless and wireline high-speed data services with an evolution to VOIP. In the near term, it can also serve as a backhaul/broadband point-to-point solution as part of a converged network architecture supporting seamless ‘Lifestyle’ services.”

Lucent’s rivals have been rather more forthcoming on their plans. Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA), Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK), and Siemens AG (NYSE: SI; Frankfurt: SIE) have all expressed commitment to the market, whilst LM Ericsson (Nasdaq: ERICY) and Nortel Networks Ltd. (NYSE/Toronto: NT) are taking a wait-and-see approach (see WiMax Gets Serious, Moto Joins WiMax Forum, Nokia Rejoins WiMax Forum, Ericsson Cool on WiMax, and Nortel Waits on WiMax).

Last month the latest version of the IEEE’s 802.l6d fixed wireless standard was ratified, amid hopes that the mobile version of the specification -- 802.16e -- will be completed sometime next year (see WiMax Spec Ratified).

Exactly what kind of data transfer speeds and range the products will actually offer remains open to debate (see WiMax: How Far? How Fast?).

— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung

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