PCCW Drops Navini

Shuns 802.16 vendor in favor of UMTS-TDD startup IPWireless

December 2, 2004

2 Min Read
PCCW Drops Navini

PCCW Ltd. (NYSE: PCW; Hong Kong: 0008) has dropped broadband wireless access vendor Navini Networks Inc. as a supplier of its U.K. network rollout.

In May this year PCCW’s local subsidiary, U.K. Broadband, announced plans to launch a 3.4GHz wireless broadband service in the Thames Valley area, using kit from both IPWireless Inc. and Navini. The network can potentially cover approximately 300,000 homes in west London (see PCCW Fixes UK Wireless and IPWireless Powers PCCW).

The company is now attempting to extend the service throughout the U.K., ploughing a reported $40 million into the commercial rollout of up to 60 base stations next year.

“We will be engaging in a phased rollout approach in urban areas starting in 2005,” marketing manager Hannah Williams tells Unstrung. “We have now been given funding for next year because our soft launch in the Thames Valley was successful. We are taking a prudent and balanced approach to that program.”

Despite the earlier partnership, Navini will not be included in such plans. “We were using both IPWireless and Navini Networks in the trial, but will be working with IPWireless as we progressively rollout. The technology [from IPWireless] was more in fitting with what we wanted to do,” says Williams.

IPWireless is attempting to court carriers with its high-speed time-division duplex (TDD) data system, which conforms to universal mobile telecommunications system (UMTS) standards but -- unlike standard cellular systems -- uses unpaired spectrum, sending and receiving data on one channel rather than two (see IPWireless Flies the TDD Flag and IPWireless Fattens Its Wallet for more detail on the vendor’s offering).

In contrast, Navini Networks is one of a glut of startups now talking up the nascent 802.16 market (see WiMax Gets 'Smart').

Navini is still listed as a partner in a statement on U.K. Broadband’s Website. The same blurb also notes the service provider will in the future “support the emerging WiMax standard for portable wireless broadband.”

Such a move now seems a distant venture. “The IPWireless technology we are using is based on UMTS-TDD and has the same future technology roadmap as 3G,” adds Williams. “It possesses the same qualities as the WiMax standard, ie portable, non-line-of-sight, broadband access. The difference is it is available and up and running today, whereas WiMax seems to be some time away. That is the reason for our decision.”

Navini could not be reached for comment by press time.

— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung

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