IPWireless Talks Up Deals

Alternative infrastructure provider IPWireless Inc. today revealed it has scored a high-profile trial with U.S. carrier Nextel Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: NXTL), as it touted a bevy of previously unannounced trials and commercial deployments.

Founded in April 1999, IPWireless has developed a high-speed, time-division duplex (TDD) data system that conforms to universal mobile telecommunications standards (UMTS) but -- unlike standard frequency-division duplex (FDD) 3G cellular systems -- uses unpaired spectrum, sending and receiving data on one channel rather than two (see IPWireless Flies the TDD Flag).

“We are going to have a major trial with Nextel announced in the next month,” Ian Henderson, director of business development at IPWireless, told delegates at a WiMax conference in London.

Henderson declined to offer further details, but the imminent public announcement is a surprise in light of Nextel’s recent activity. Last year the carrier tested Flash-OFDM equipment from Flarion Technologies in an effort to decide its future broadband wireless strategy, but has since opted to slowly migrate its subscribers to CDMA 2000 1x EV-DO technology in light of its $35 billion mega-merger deal with Sprint Corp. (NYSE: FON). (See Nextel Flashes With Flarion and Sprint, Nextel Confirm Merger.) Sprint has also announced its intention to test WiMax technology in partnership with Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) (see Sprint Firms Up WiMax Plans).

“The CTO of Nextel, Barry West, will be the CTO of the combined entity,” Henderson is keen to point out.

Meanwhile, he says, the vendor is “about to announce a national deployment in the 870MHz band.” Scuttlebutt at today’s event suggests the mystery carrier is T-Mobile International AG’s subsidiary in the Czech Republic. “In 2005 we are going to be having our first announced customer relationships with Tier 1 carriers,” adds Henderson.

IPWireless claims that its UMTS-TDD technology has been deployed in “over 40 trials and commercial networks around the world.” Previously unannounced trials include European carriers O2 plc (NYSE/London: OOM) and Tele2 AB (Nasdaq: TLTO), Bharti Tele-Ventures Ltd. in India, Australian carrier Optus Pty. Ltd., U.S. service provider NextWave Telecom Inc., and Mongolian cellular carrier Mobicom Corp.

High-profile announced trials include MobileOne Ltd. (M1) (Singapore: MONE) in Singapore, Orange France (Paris: OGE), and Sonaecom in Portugal (see M1 Trials Wireless Trio, Orange Trials IPWireless and Sonaecom Trials IPWireless).

The vendor also talked up a commercial deployment with Malaysian GSM carrier Maxis Communications Bhd. According to company literature, IPWireless has provided “coverage in KL [Kuala Lumpur] with expansion in 05.” Services are available at $21 a month for 384 kbit/s and $29 a month for speeds of 512 kbit/s.

IPWireless’s other publicly announced commercial deployments include AtlasONE Malaysia Sdn Bhd., Germany’s Airdata AG, Netcom Africa, PCCW Ltd.'s (NYSE: PCW; Hong Kong: 0008) subsidiary UK Broadband, Sentech in South Africa, UAB Nelté in Lithuania, Sweden’s Atenit, and Woosh Wireless in New Zealand. (See Malaysians Deploy IPWireless, Airdata Goes With IPWireless, IPWireless Wins in Africa, IPWireless Powers PCCW, IPWireless Powers Sentech, IPWireless Wins in Lithuania, and Woosh Extends IPWireless Order.)

— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung

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