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3G/HSPA

IPWireless Walks New Zealand

Walker Wireless is using IPWireless Inc. kit to create a high-speed wireless data network that will cover half the population of New Zealand (see Walker Deploys IP Wireless).

Walker will use IPWireless's base stations to provide service in the three major cities in New Zealand -- Christchurch, Wellington, and Auckland. The rollout should be completed within the next few quarters, according to IPWireless's senior director of marketing, Jon Hambridge.

But he isn't willing to give up much detail when Unstrung asks how much the largest rollout of his company's technology so far will cost. "It's obviously up into the millions," he says. We're presuming that's U.S. dollars, Jon.

And what about the number of basestations that will be used? Hambridge isn't keen on that question either, as it turns out. However, he did tell us that in testing, four cell sites covered 25 percent of Auckland, so that gives some clue.

IPWireless currently holds the second spot in Unstrung's Top 25 Startups. Its technology is based on UMTS, but it is not the same as the kit being offered by the big boys. Conventional UMTS systems use frequency-division duplex (FDD) or "paired" spectrum, whereas the IPWireless system operates over time-division duplex (TDD) or "unpaired" spectrum. Data-only TDD systems are more spectrally efficient than FDD systems, because they use one channel for both upstream and downstream traffic rather than two.

There's one more twist to this story. Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) stumped up half the cash for the initial Auckland trial, which took place between September and December this year.

So will Vodafone take the plunge with IPWireless? "I know that they've been actively watching what's going on," says Hambridge.

It wouldn't be the first time that Vodafone has dabbled with alternative wireless technologies. They already have a similar setup with ArrayComm Inc. across the pond in Australia (see ArrayComm Goes Live in Oz).

— Dan Jones, Senior Editor, Unstrung
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