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Carrier WiFi

WiFi Goes WiMax

Number two enterprise wireless LAN kit provider Symbol Technologies Inc. (NYSE: SBL) and mesh networking upstart Tropos Networks are the latest 802.11 players to jump on the WiMax bandwagon (see Symbol Joins WiMax Forum and Tropos Joins WiMax Forum).

The firms are the latest WLAN vendors to start examining how some of the myriad technologies developed around WiFi can be applied to the metropolitan area WiMax specification.

Symbol says that by joining the WiMax Forum, it will expand "open-standard-based wireless networking for metropolitan-area outdoor mobility applications." WLAN switch rivals such as Airespace Inc. have already joined the forum.

Symbol was one of the first wireless LAN vendors to develop an architecture for centralizing, securing, and managing wireless LAN networks (see Symbol's Cisco Killer?).

Some attendees at the Light Reading Live "Wireless LANs: Business Plans" event in Boston on Tuesday suggested that vendors will need to develop similar centralized management platforms for WiMax, while also taking into account the billing and service-level needs of carriers and ISPs (see WiMax Switching Ahoy?).

Colubris Networks Inc. is already looking at DSL applications for WiMax, even before its membership in the WiMax Forum becomes official (see Colubris's WiMax CliMax).

Meanwhile, metro-area WLAN mesh networker Tropos says it could use WiMax for wireless backhaul connections for its meshed wireless LAN hotspots, although the company is not making any product roadmaps official yet and is examining several potential applications.

Tropos's rival startup BelAir Networks is also looking at WiMax for backhaul applications.

"We're just waiting for the [802.16d] chips," Phil Belanger, VP of marketing at BelAir told Unstrung recently.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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