Wavesat Breaks Into WiMax

Chipset startup Wavesat Inc. is promising the commercial launch of its WiMax silicon by the middle of next month, a move intended to provide a critical edge in its battle with rivals Fujitsu Ltd. (OTC: FJTSY; Tokyo: 6702) and Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC).

The Montreal-based vendor has completed the design of its WiMax DM256 chip and transferred it to Atmel Corp. (Nasdaq: ATML) for production (see Wavesat Completes WiMax Chip).

“The chipset is expected to be available in late October, early November,” finance director Mark Netto tells Unstrung. “We expect to be the first standard-compliant 802.16 chip.”

The company has previously claimed more than 30 customers have bought its development kit. “Right now we already have ten of those customers signed up to purchase the chipsets,” says Netto, refusing to reveal names. “Our customers will be the first ones to offer WiMax compliant kit.”

Wavesat is in direct competition with network titans Fujitsu and Intel, as well as French minnow Sequans Communications (see Fujitsu Readies WiMax Chip, Intel's WiMax Drive, and Sequans Maxes Up).

Fujitsu has announced a customer deal with Canadian vendor Wi-LAN Inc. (Toronto: WIN), whilst Intel has signed the likes of Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA), Alvarion Ltd. (Nasdaq: ALVR), Proxim Corp. (Nasdaq: PROX), Redline Communications Inc., and Siemens AG (NYSE: SI; Frankfurt: SIE).
(See Fujitsu, Wi-LAN Team Up, WiMax Gets Serious, Intel, Alvarion Develop 802.16, and Proxim & Intel: MANly Friends.)

“Intel has only released development kits, not actual silicon,” counters Netto. “We don’t expect them to launch until the middle of next year. We expect to have a significant time to market advantage.”

Netto is also optimistic that Wavesat’s early launch could lead to a market shakeout. “When Intel’s customers see us shipping chips we hope they will come back to us.”

Wavesat yesterday announced its latest $8 million VC cash injection. Wavesat’s Netto is reluctant to disclose total investment to date, but says there have been two previous rounds “of a similar amount” (see Wavesat Scores $8M).

— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung

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