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WiMax Telecom Eyes Standards

Service provider startup WiMax Telecom AG is mulling its choice of technology for a European wireless broadband network launch later this year.

In a prepared statement this week, the company announced it has “acquired the nationwide frequencies for WiMax in Austria” and “has concrete plans for a rollout among others in Switzerland.” It also declared that a future service launch in Eastern Europe “is already in the planning stages” (see WiMax Telecom Acquires Spectrum).

Despite such assertions, the company remains undecided on its long-term market strategy. “We are going to have two trials in Austria to start with,” chairman Dov Bar-Gera tells Unstrung. “One will be in a rural area 55 kilometers south of Vienna. We will install something in the order of five to ten base stations. That will probably be pre-WiMax technology... In the area of Vienna we would like to do another trial with another technology, maybe UMTS-TDD. We are not sure which of the two will be the final winner in the race.” [Ed note: So why the choice of company name, then?]

Bar-Gera touts Alvarion Ltd. (Nasdaq: ALVR), Aperto Networks, and Proxim Corp. (Nasdaq: PROX) as potential vendor candidates for the 802.16-based trial, and notes IPWireless Inc. as a likely contender for the UMTS-TDD deal. “We have our tenders out and are still in conversations. In February, we will decide.”

WiMax Telecom paid €160,000 ($208,000) for a nationwide 3.5GHz license in Austria and aims to launch the trials “in the middle of Q2” this year. Its Swiss plans are on hold until local regulator OFCOM auctions similar spectrum.

Founded in October 2004, the startup has received an undisclosed investment from InCentive Capital Holding AG. “We were a paper company until we got the frequencies in Austria,” says Bar-Gera. “A Website is on our to-do list.”

— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung

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