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Wireless Nuggets

Here’s Unstrung’s top news nuggets of the week, neatly packaged for your viewing pleasure.

Nokia’s Chinese tryst?
Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) has been linked to a potential Chinese partnership for the development of Time Division Synchronous Code Division Multiple Access (TD-SCDMA) technology, a cellular standard expected to feature in the rollout of the region’s 3G networks.

“It is our view that Nokia will most likely establish a TD-SCDMA partnership with a domestic Chinese telecom equipment supplier, and thus will remain solidly perched in the Top 3 of mobile infrastructure equipment suppliers,” writes research analyst Sandeep Malhotra in a report from Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. “We believe that Nokia will become a leading vendor of both TD-SCDMA and WCDMA equipment in China.”

Nokia is one of the few remaining Western vendors yet to announce a tieup with a Chinese partner for development of such kit. In May this year Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERICY) announced it has teamed with local supplier ZTE Corp. (Shenzhen: 000063; Hong Kong: 0763) on development of the technology, while Nortel Networks Ltd. (NYSE/Toronto: NT) has partnered with China Putian. Siemens AG (NYSE: SI; Frankfurt: SIE) has linked up with Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., and Alcatel (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA) has announced a similar deal with Datang Telecom Technology Co. Ltd.

"Nokia has not made any specific product announcements regarding TD-SCDMA, but we have worked on the standard from an R&D standpoint and are actively following the situation with TD-SCDMA," writes a spokeswoman in an email note to Unstrung.

UTStarcom Inc. (Nasdaq: UTSI), in light of its Chinese market experience, is a likely infrastructure partner.

Telabria maxes up
U.K. service provider Telabria Ltd. has announced plans to roll out a wireless broadband network using equipment from Alvarion Ltd. (Nasdaq: ALVR) and SkyPilot Network Inc. (see Telabria Maxes in Kent).

Deployed in the 5.8GHz spectrum band, Telabria is dubbing the network a “WiMax-class broadband service.” [Ed. note: Oh purrrrlease!] “We expect to migrate to WiMax-certified equipment by the end of the first half of 2006,” writes Telabria CEO Jim Baker in an email note to Unstrung. “We do not expect to switch vendors as both Alvarion and Skypilot have demonstrated a commitment to migrate to WiMax in due course… We do not expect to be able to ‘upgrade’ from existing equipment to WiMax; we expect to ether replace it or run WiMax-compliant base stations and CPE alongside our existing infrastructure as we do the migration.”

The initial rollout will target businesses and households in the city of Canterbury and borough of Swale. “We certainly intend to deploy in all the areas of Kent where it is economically viable to do so; that includes most of the well-populated boroughs, cities and towns… We expect to spend several million pounds as we deploy across the South East in the next 12-18 months or so.”

WiMaxarama
Telabria has not been alone in touting its plans this week for future WiMax networks. Austrian service provider WiMAX Telecom GmbH has announced it will deploy kit from Alcatel (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA), a deal revealed by Unstrung back in June (see Alcatel Supplies WiMAX Telecom and WiMAX Telecom to Invest $85M). Meanwhile Unwired Australia Pty. Ltd. has unveiled plans to launch 802.16e services using equipment from Navini Networks Inc., a deal that builds on a previous fixed-wireless deployment (see Navini Supplies Unwired).

Not that everyone’s sipping on the Kool-Aid. Research firm IDC concurs with a recent Unstrung Insider report suggesting that the mobile version of WiMax -- known as 802.16e -- is unlikely to live up to expectations (see Mobile WiMax Faces Struggle).

“In Europe, spectrum availability is a major problem for would-be mobile WiMax deployments, and a solution might not emerge until 2008,” notes a statement from IDC (see IDC Doubts Mobile WiMax). “During that time, however, cellular and WiFi technologies will keep improving and will offer a much better economic rationale than mobile WiMax.”

— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung

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