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4G/3G/WiFi

Taiwan's WiMax

5:43 PM -- While Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) captures most of the WiMax attention these days, the six newly licensed operators in Taiwan, with a little help from the government, are also gearing up for 802.16e network deployments next year in the 2.5 GHz frequency. That means WiMax equipment vendors are there in force testing their kit and competing for contracts.

Mike Shieh, president of Motorola Taiwan, tells Unstrung that the systems in Taiwan are developing at the same pace as Sprint Nextel's in the U.S. Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) will supply Far EasTone Telecommunications Co. Ltd. , which is aiming for a commercial launch around April next year. (See Moto Wins Taiwan WiMax Deal.)

"Our systems are in sync with what Sprint is doing," says Shieh. "Our systems -- the mobility piece -- are ready. From an operator perspective, they have other things to consider, such as the business plan and other supporting systems... and what kind of end user equipment."

Shieh says the competition for contracts is like for any other technology in that "everyone is here." He lists among the hopefuls: Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), Nortel Networks Ltd. , NEC Corp. (Tokyo: 6701), Nokia Networks , as well as Alvarion Technologies Ltd. (Nasdaq: ALVR), Aperto Networks Inc. , Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. , and ZTE Corp. (Shenzhen: 000063; Hong Kong: 0763). (See WiMAX Forum Picks Asian Test Lab, Alvarion Wins in Taiwan, Chunghwa Uses Nortel's WiMax, Tatung Trials NEC WiMax, Vendors Form WiMax JV, Chunghwa Uses Nortel WiMax, and Aperto Signs Partner.)

The Taiwanese government is serious about WiMax, too. The government has a fund of 7 billion Taiwan new dollars (US$214 million) available to kickstart the local WiMax market in an initiative called M-Taiwan. The government will fund WiMax projects ranging from network rollouts to chipsets and applications.

"Taiwan missed 2G and 3G -- it was pretty much a handset OEM and ODM market," says Shieh. "But [with WiMax] they want to get in at a different level."

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Unstrung

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