802.11-Planet News Briefs

New Faces

The crowded broadband fixed wireless market apparently still has room
for new hardware players and products.

Three companies or partnerships introduced or announced plans to introduce
new fixed wireless network products recently: Cirronet
Inc.
, General DataComm Industries
(NYSE: GDC)
in partnership with Corinex Global Corp.,
and Centerpoint Broadband Technologies,
Inc.

Atlanta-based Cirronet, formerly Digital Wireless Corp., announced the
commercial deployment of its WaveBolt product family. The company says
WaveBolt, which operates globally in the unlicensed 2.4 GHz (ISM) frequency
band, will break price and deployment barriers, enabling ISPs to develop
residential and small business wireless markets.

An ISP’s cost per subscriber with the WaveBolt system—including
access point equipment, installations and subscriber equipment—is
less than $400, the company says.

The solution provided by a partnership between Middlebury, Conn.-based
General DataComm and Vancouver, Canada-based Corinex, which also operates
in the 2.4GHz band, is based on GDC’s APEX family of packet switches,
and uses Corinex Link for last mile wireless access and Corinex Bill for
usage-based billing.

The companies say the product allows service providers to offer bundles
of billable services such as IP, telephony, and streaming multimedia to
their enterprise customers at very competitive rates.

Principal benefits include low-cost, low-maintenance wireless access,
ease of installation for quick service deployment, built-in QoS with APEX
service differentiation and usage-based billing for enhanced revenue generation.

Corinex Global is part of the Corinex Group of companies, one of the
largest information and communications enterprises in Slovakia.

And finally, San Jose, Calif.-based Centerpoint, an optical networking
company, has announced plans to apply its proprietary technology to the
fixed-broadband-wireless market.

Centerpoint says it will leverage its proprietary modem design, integrated
circuit RF technology and established manufacturing relationships to introduce
multi-rate radios for a range of point-to-point applications.

We Like This Business Better

WorldCom
Inc.
of Clinton, Miss., which recently entered the fixed wireless
business with an MMDS service in Memphis, Tenn., is reportedly about to
put more of its eggs in the Internet basket—and throw some others
out.

According to published reports, the company is expected to lay off between
10 percent and 15 percent of its 77,000-strong work force, and refocus
its efforts on the faster-growing Internet market—including the wireless
access business.

The job cuts, which WorldCom has yet to confirm, will supposedly hit
workers hardest in the company’s slower-growth businesses. WorldCom plans
eventually to dump some of those businesses, analysts have predicted,
including long-distance voice, the business on which the company was partly
built.

According to other reports, the slower-growth businesses are to be placed
in a tracking stock with the MCI name—the original long distance
company that merged with WorldCom in 1998.

On the wireless front, the company introduced its MMDS (multichannel
multipoint distribution service) high-speed Internet access service in
Memphis in November. It said then it planned to roll out the service in
30 markets nationwide by the end of 2001.

The company says its fixed-wireless service delivers high-speed Internet
access with guaranteed performance up to 30 times faster than a conventional
dial-up modem to customers within 35 miles of a centrally-located transmitter
tower.

Sprint Rolling Out

Meanwhile, Sprint, MCI’s old rival
in the long distance business, has stepped up its MMDS-based fixed wireless
activities, rolling out its Sprint Broadband Direct service to three more
cities in the space of a week recently.

Sprint originally launched in Silicon Valley (from a San Jose Calif.
POP) in October last year and added San Francisco in November. Since then,
it has launched in Colorado Springs and Denver Colo., Phoenix and Tucson
Ariz., Detroit, Houston, Wichita Kans., and Salt Lake City Utah.

The latest new markets added in mid-January: Fresno Calif., Oklahoma
City, and Melbourne Fla.

Sprint Broadband Direct’s asynchronous shared connection delivers downstream
rates of 512 Kb to 1.5 Mb, with burst rates up to 5 Mb and upstream rates.

Sprint charges residential customers $45 to $50 per month, business
customers $200, plus $100 for installation and a one-time fee for equipment
of $100 to $300 depending on the length of the service contract.

Sprint installs a 13.5×13.5-inch (pizza-box-size) diamond-shaped device
on the outside of the customer’s premises. The transceiver is pointed
toward Sprint’s radio transmission tower, usually located on high ground
and able to provide line-of-sight connections up to 35 miles away.

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