WiMax on Trial

NEW ORLEANS — Expanding an existing partnership, network equipment
giant Nortel and handset maker LG Electronics will
jointly develop and market WiMax products.

The agreement, announced here at the CTIA Wireless 2005 trade show,
will combine Nortel’s carrier packet networking with LG Electronics’
mobile telecom and digital convergence experience.

The Canadian and South Korean companies are planning their first WiMax 802.16e trials in the second half of next year. The
company did not say where the tests would take place.

The pact comes two months after Nortel and LG inked a joint venture partnership to market telecom and network equipment in South Korea.

“Today’s WiMax news is the first proof point of our previously
announced joint venture,” Camille Beasley, a spokewoman for Nortel,
said. “It’s a prime example of how Nortel and LG are pooling their
efforts to deliver the highest quality
networking solutions using the latest technologies.”

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 Voice over Internet Protocol 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.

Nortel has been active in the WiMax Forum, an industry organization
that promotes interoperability and certification of broadband wireless
products. And LG Electronics has been growing as a major contributor
in IEEE 802.16e.

Others aren’t so sure. Although tests
are picking up speed, critics question whether there is a
dominant application that could be delivered over WiMax.

In other WiMax news, AT&T revealed that it is planning
two sets of commercial WiMax trials this year. Ma Bell has been
testing WiMax in its labs since the fourth quarter.

The first commercial test will take place in Middletown, N.J., about
an hour from New York, and includes data transfer services for a
retail customer, Andy Backover, an AT&T spokesman, told
internetnews.com.

The second trial will take place later this year in a major market and
will likely include VoIP, Backover said. The company has not finalized
the city yet, nor chosen the equipment vendors for the trials.

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