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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 13.5x13.5-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.