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Siemens Maxes in Italy

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LR Mobile News Analysis
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Siemens AG (NYSE: SI; Frankfurt: SIE) is to launch a bevy of wireless broadband trials in Italy from next month, deploying kit based on the emerging fixed-wireless 802.16-2004 standard.

The German incumbent says it will deploy its WiMax kit in the 3.5GHz band (see Siemens Soars on WiMax). Trials will begin in July in Valle d‘Aosta, a region in North Italy, and will later spread to Abruzzo, Piemonte, and the islands of Sicily and Sardinia. [Ed. note: Why does this sound more like a fantastic summer break than a wireless deployment?] The cities of Arezzo, Milan, Parma, and Rome are also targeted for deployment.

Siemens is keeping its lips sealed on the identity of its carrier customers. “We know this kind of information but we cannot give it,” says Francesco Alivernini, spokesman for the Italian arm of Siemens. “Major operators and also some public administrations are participating with us on these trials.”

WiMax is based on the 802.16 specification from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE). The initial fixed-wireless version of WiMax is based on 802.16-2004; initial products are expected late in 2005 or early next year, following official certification this summer (see WiMax Forum Unveils Plans). Mobile WiMax products, based on 802.16e, are likely to hit the market in 2007.

Siemens is certainly doing its best to talk up market demand for WiMax in Italy. Alivernini says the vendor has already provided a “hypothetical” estimate on potential network investment in the country, predicting the possible installation of “2,000 to 3,000” base stations at a cost of “€200 to €300 million” ($241 million to $362 million).

— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung

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