IPWireless Fattens Its Wallet
In fact, one of the carriers that has been trialing the IPWireless technology with real users has noted reach of almost 30 kilometers. In early October, New Zealand data service provider Walker Wireless embarked on a trial, jointly funded by Vodafone New Zealand, with 450 users. Four IPWireless base stations were set up at high locations around Auckland, giving good coverage of the business district, some residential suburbs, and industrial areas.
"We have had residential and business users that self-registered for the service, and who have used a wide range of services and applications, from personal Internet access to VPN access to corporate data," Walker CEO Bob Smith tells Unstrung. "In a nutshell, it works." The trial users have used IPWireless modems, hooked up to a PC or laptop via an Ethernet or USB cable. Smith says data access has been achieved by people using the trial service out at sea up to 30 kilometers from a base station. He also says his company is now starting to "transition those on the test deployment to becoming paying customers. We always had a view to going commercial with this service." Walker plans to offer a flat-rate tariff for low-level residential users, as well as other pricing structures involving a flat fee plus a per-megabit charge for business customers. Smith is full of praise for the technology. "I have been in telecoms for 14 years, and this has been the best trial, the most successful project I have undertaken." Analysts at Deutsche Bank AG also praise the technology, though they "do not expect a lot of activity in this space until the overall industry improves (hopefully in our lifetime). It is encouraging to witness a demonstration of an attractive option for both UMTS and MMDS spectrum holders," they said in a research note. The latter reference is applicable for the U.S., where the IPWireless technology uses 10MHz of MMDS spectrum (2.5 GHz). Gilbert hopes to win a contract from MMDS license holder Sprint Corp. (NYSE: FON) to add to its deals with Clearwire Technologies and WorldCom Inc. (OTC: WCOEQ) (see IPWireless Flies the TDD Flag). "We are up against Navini Networks Inc. in the U.S., but we never come across Flarion," says Gilbert. "Flarion's technology is proprietary -- it's good, but proprietary. You need standards-based technology to get anywhere," he stresses. And Flarion, one of Unstrung's Top 25 Startups, just like IPWireless, is not the only target of Gilbert's dismissive tongue. He describes the homegrown 3G technology development in China, TD-SCDMA, as "a sham. There are no products and there is no reason why anyone would want them. It will never take off." There could be some wishful thinking at play here, as TD-SCDMA (time-division synchronous call-division multiple access, for those hung up on words) is also a TDD technology, and IPWireless has hopes of selling its own kit in China, as well as elsewhere in Asia. "We have engagements in China, as well as elsewhere in Asia, but we simply can't reveal any details at the moment," says Pittick. If the company is good to its word, though, it will be naming names -- carrier customers and OEM partners -- quite soon. — Ray Le Maistre, European Editor, Unstrung www.unstrung.com