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Motorola pushes mobile WiMax

The supplier believes its products based on the mobile standard of the wireless broadband technology will be out by mid-2006 and is encouraging operators to hold on till then.

Motorola will have products based on the broadband WiMax, 802.16-2005 technology, just recently standardised by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineering (IEEE), on the shelves by mid 2006, according to the supplier’s EMEA manager of wireless broadband, Noel Kirkaldy.

Being the only supplier to have solely focused on the mobile WiMax technology rather than other vendors that also developed fixed, 802.16-2004 product lines, Motorola is pushing operators to consider skipping fixed WiMax solutions in favour of mobile.

“I firmly believe there is a one or two quarters between the two products being available,” says Kirkaldy.

A one-quarter difference in an operator’s 10 to 15-year business plan is such a small length of time that Kirkaldy believes it does not really justify investing in fixed WiMax.

“Sure, it’s a big risk,” says Kirkaldy, acknowledging that other major suppliers such as Siemens, Alcatel and Ericsson have all entered original equipment manufacturing deals with smaller manufacturers of fixed WiMax products while they develop their own mobile WiMax equipment, thus enabling them to meet any demand that should arise in the interim.

Other suppliers and analysts have predicted that fully certified 802.16-2005 equipment will not become available until 2007, giving a sizeable market for the fixed WiMax developers. Kirkaldy, however, claims that, while Motorola’s offering at first will not be officially certified by the WiMax Forum, any adjustments will be just software-based, and will not require any equipment changes.

Even before Motorola’s mobile products are scheduled for released in mid-2006, Kirkaldy is confident the supplier will have regional orders for the equipment.

“We will probably see the first end-users using mobile WiMax by the end of 2006.”

UAE operator Etisalat has plans to deploy WiMax by the middle of next year, either using the fixed or wireless technology and has issued a RFI to Motorola, along with Alcatel, Huawei, ZTE, Samsung and Ericsson for the mobile trial it plans to launch in the new year.

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