Nortel's WiMax Coming Out
The Canuck colossus is following hard on the heels of Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), which revealed plans to join the forum last week (see Cisco Joins WiMax Forum). Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA), Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK), and Siemens AG (NYSE: SI; Frankfurt: SIE) have all signed on to the forum, while LM Ericsson (Nasdaq: ERICY) and Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU) are taking a more "wait and see" attitude (see WiMax Gets Serious, Nokia Rejoins WiMax Forum, Moto Joins WiMax Forum, Ericsson Cool on WiMax, and Lucent Waffles on WiMax).
Nortel says it will contribute its expertise in multiple input (MIMO) smart antenna systems and Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM) signal processing techniques to work on the 802.16d-based metropolitan area standard (see WiMax: How Far? How Fast? for the technology details). Nortel promises that these technologies will "greatly enhance WiMax's potential for widespread adoption by improving spectral efficiency and data rates."
It may come as news to some of you that Nortel has such expertise up its sleeve, since the company hasn't exactly been talking up its capabilities in this area. Indeed, Nortel appears to be keen to stay quiet on specifics even now, since it hadn't replied to phone calls about the WiMax move by press time.
But the firm has been working on combining OFDM and MIMO in wireless LAN implementations for some time now, at least in the lab (see On the Job – With Mumford & Pals , under the "Wireless Wonders" section). There's no reason why some of this work couldn't be applied to WiMax.
Of course, older readers will remember that Cisco, Nokia, Nortel, and others have already tried -- and largely failed -- to make a splash in the fixed wireless market (see Cisco Late to WiMax Party).
Nortel sold its fixed wireless access unit to Airspan Networks in November of last year for $12.9 million (see Airspan Acquires Nortel Sub).
Vendors are betting that the fixed wireless market will be more successful this go around -- largely because the industry is now building to a standard, rather than relying on proprietary technology, and this means that major chipmakers can get involved and drive down costs with volume silicon production (see WiMax: Last Mile Smiles).
— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung