Proxim's WiMax Path
The firm has introduced new hardware -- the Tsunami MP.11 Model 5054-R [ed. note: mmm, catchy] -- and updated its Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) software to enable DSL-like tiered services, better wireless services, increased security, and improved non-line-of-sight performance.
Many of these features are the kind of capabilities that will eventually be available as part of a standardized WiMax platform. The firm is co-developing a WiMax hardware platform -- the MP.16 -- with Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC), which is expected to be ready for initial "plug fests" in early 2005. The box is supposed to be launched around the middle of next year.
Proxim will initially offer WiMax kit that operates in three radio bands: 2.5GHz, 3.5GHz, and 5.8GHz. But Ben Gibson, Proxim's VP of corporate marketing, believes that the unlicensed 5.8GHz products will "represent the early growth area."
"Municipalities are looking at the unlicensed band," says Gibson. Proxim envisages WiMax being used for a lot of the metro-zone applications that are currently covered by 802.11 or proprietary wireless gear. These include networks for police and other emergency workers, city employees, utilities, and good ol' public wireless access networks.
Still, Gibson isn't expecting to see too much WiMax action next year. "You're going to see a little bit in 2005."
If the market for WiMax does take off, most analysts are looking at 2006 and especially 2007 -- by which time Intel should have WiMax chips that can be used with laptop computers on the market -- as the years when it will start to make an impact.
But there's a good reason for Proxim to make sure it's in the lead pack in the WiMax race. Wireless broadband kit is one of the bright spots in Proxim's market outlook at the moment. Sales of the firm's existing MP.11 kit were up 46 percent in Proxim's recent third-quarter results (see Proxim Cuts Q3 Loss).
— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung