AT&T Tests WiMax Gear

AT&T has been lab-testing WiMax equipment from
Airspan Networks and Motorola among
others, has learned.

The long-distance carrier and network services provider recently announced two sets of commercial WiMax trials for later this year.

An AT&T official confirmed that the vendors’ products are being reviewed in
its labs (as are those of other equipment makers), but said that doesn’t
necessarily mean that they will be part of the trials.

An Airspan representative also confirmed the lab tests. A Motorola
spokesperson could not immediately be reached for comment.

AT&T has worked with both companies recently. Their products powered
AT&T’s wireless broadband demonstration at the Voice Over Net (VON) trade
show in San Jose earlier this month.

Airspan makes base stations, backhaul technology and customer premises
equipment. The 13-year-old company’s broadband wireless products have been
deployed by more than 300 customers in more than 95 countries.

The Boca Raton, Fla., company also recently expanded its support for VoIP,
buying Israeli equipment maker AreINet for $8.7 million in December.
AreINet specialized in VoIP equipment, such as gateways and soft switches for
all major VoIP standards.

Motorola has been anticipating WiMax since the late 1990s. Its access points
are designed to handle WiMax traffic while mitigating interference.

WiMax is a developing technology that supports very high bit rates in
uploading and downloading from a base station up to a distance of 30 miles.

In addition to bringing services such as high-speed Internet access and VoIP
to rural areas, office parks and educational campuses, there are other
early-adopter opportunities, experts say.

For example, WiMax systems stationed around shipping and trucking hubs and
tied into RFID and video surveillance could help eliminate
“shrinkage,” the industry’s term for goods and services that are lost or
stolen in transit.

In a more generic sense, vendors could sell against incumbent telecom
carriers on cost, comparing their services with T-1 and other traditional
business services.

AT&T’s first commercial test will take place in May in Middletown, N.J.,
about an hour from New York, and will involve data transfer services for a
retail customer.

The second trial will take place later this year in a major market and will
likely include VoIP. The company has not decided upon the city yet, AT&T said.

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