wimax vendors

The vendors
Recently, a much publicized article in The Wall Street Journal pointed out how Wi-Fi has already slipped out of the hands of the start-ups. Unlike in other technology booms, none of those start-ups looks set to grow up to be a dominant player; instead, the established giants have sidestepped to take control of the new sector, Intel and Cisco in particular. The same process is likely to happen in WiMAX, certainly at the chip and hardware level. In fact, the main question is whether anybody can stop Intel and Nokia completely dominating this market, blocking entry to everybody else with their aggressive early action. Of course, the availability of low cost equipment will help to make the business models of some of the BWA specialists more viable, and partnership with Intel could ensure the survival of companies such as Alvarion.

However, cheap components will also lower barriers to entry and cause a shakeout in which many of the less well funded developers of smart antenna, OFDM systems will perish. Similarly, as WiMAX becomes a mainstream option for last mile and rural BWA, it is likely to attract the attention of large operators looking for new revenue streams and some of the alternative and niche operators may be pushed out too. As well as Intel, the first WiMAX products are likely to come from:Enterprise WLAN maker Proxim, which has WiMAX equipment in the labsEnsemble CommunicationsFlarion, the Cisco-backed last mile player, which has a trial running in South Korea of wireless broadband gear using its smart antenna technology and supporting 802.16a. Korea is seen as the territory where wireless broadband is adopted most rapidly. However, Flarion’s chief interest is in the rival 802.20 standard, or Mobile-Fi

•Fujitsu Microelectronics will be first with silicon. It is developing an 802.16a device that integrates the physical and media access control layers, which will include an ARM9 processor and will be ready later this year. The chip will cost about $300. Fujitsu will work with multiple providers of front end devices and recommend those compatible with its device.

•Taiwan-based Gen-WAN Technology has launched broadband wireless network equipment using 802.16a, offering base stations, fixed and mobile terminals, repeaters and network management systems. It will market its system, called BWIA, initially for public safety and military purposes, where WiMAX offers more reliable signals than cellular in emergency situations.

•Wi-Lan, one of the critical start-ups in WiMAX, has come to market with pre-standard system-on-chip solutions and will support the full standard soon. Its patented Wideband OFDM technology is included in the 802.16a standard and it has a manufacturing and development agreement with Fujitsu Microelectronics.

•Broadcom and Texas Instruments are also making noises about WiMAX and are expected to get into the market alongside Intel and Fujitsu. This is a sector where the chipmakers will define the core set of capabilities and control the core functions so that they take the primary role in driving proliferation of 802.16.

•The first Intel technology partners from the BWA arena, which will use the upcoming Intel products in their previously proprietary base stations, are Alvarion and Aperto Networks. Alvarion has an important contract to supply China Unicom with WiMAX equipment for its initial roll-out in six cities.

•AirTap Communications is one of the early entrants into the market for WiMAX networks in the US, serving SMEs and large enterprises in a range of metro districts.