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January 9, 2005

Alvarion to demo mobile WiMax within a year

Alvarion Ltd has created a standalone business unit to determine the company's strategy around mobile WiMax in time for an expected 2006 launch.

By CBR Staff Writer

The Tel Aviv, Israel-based wireless broadband equipment manufacturer expects to have a demonstration system built around the IEEE 802.16e mobile WiMax specification ready within a year. This is expected to coincide with the introduction of client-side WiMax chips for mobile devices from Intel and others.

Alvarion’s statement of intent marks the clearest sign yet of when mobile WiMax will become reality. The company has long set realistic targets for the introduction of WiMax, often against a tide of media and vendor hype. It has been careful to describe its BreezeMax system as WiMax-ready rather than as WiMax per se, ahead of full deployment of the technology.

Alvarion’s new mobile WiMax business unit will be able to call on cellular network expertise the company acquired with last year’s purchase of Interwave Communications International Ltd.

Alvarion, along with most other wireless broadband vendors, has been focused on fixed versions of the concept that are able to substitute for traditional fixed-line networks for backhaul or last-mile connectivity.

802.16e takes the industry standard WiMax technology mobile, enabling multi-Mbps network access for nomadic users. A full quality-of-service framework will make real-time applications such as voice over IP practical. This will make WiMax a more genuine threat to 3G cellular networks, although the two technologies are more complementary than competitive.

The 802.16e standard is expected to be approved by the IEEE by mid-year.

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