Canadian wireless equipment maker Wi-LAN and European hotzone technology supplier
Radionet this week announced the formation
of an alliance to promote integrated end-to-end wireless solutions which combine
the companies’ products. The combination of Wi-LAN’s pre-WiMax
offering with Radionet’s Wi-Fi hotzone solutions offers the benefits of
a fixed wireless backhaul along with broad hotzone coverage.
The first deployment of this type has already been established
in Vantaa, Finland, using
40 Wi-LAN Libra
3000 CPEs both to reach business customers and to provide service to hotzones
powered by Radionet. The operator is the local energy company, Vantaan
Energy Oy, and the service provider is Wivanet.
By the end of the year, the network is expected to cover 80 percent of the
households in Vantaa.
For Radionet, the partnership between the two companies represents
a way to deploy the company’s hotzone products in locations where wired backhaul
isn’t an option — and it represents a significant market expansion
for the company as well.
"The alliance with Wi-LAN further strengthens Radionet’s
market presence, and opens up whole new markets in North and South America
as well as Asia and the Pacific region," says Robert Serin, CEO of Radionet.
Dr. Sayed-Amr El-Hamamsy, Wi-LAN’s CEO, says the aim of the
agreement is meant to offer customers a blend of reliability and mobility.
"This combination of Wi-Fi and pre-WiMax equipment gives you the possibility
of rolling out viable, profitable networks competing with DSL in a very wired
first world country like Finland," he says. "You can provide the
same price points and so on as DSL, but you also have the additional value
add that the service is mobile."
That additional value-add also includes the ability to use
excess or surplus bandwidth to support a hotzone.
"It does double duty," El-Hamamsy says. "You’re
able to provide support for a high end customer, and also have excess capacity
so that you can support a hotzone backhaul. It’s a nice, solid, hybrid network
To encourage deployment of its pre-WiMax products, Wi-LAN
announced its Continuity Program in January that guarantees future interoperability.
"Next year, when WiMax equipment comes out, the customer can add a card
into their base station with the WiMax implementation on it — and
we’ve architected the system so that the same sector, same RF, same everything,
will operate with a mixture of Wi-LAN equipment and WiMax equipment,"
El-Hamamsy says he’s optimistic about the promise of deployments
like the one that’s already been demonstrated in Finland. "It really
shows another way of resolving this issue which people have been struggling
with about how to deploy networks to compete with DSL," he says. "I
believe we’re answering that in a pretty elegant and successfully-demonstrated
As a side note, Wi-LAN’s lawsuit against Cisco
Systems continues — though El-Hamamsy says it’s been slow going.
"They have not yet filed their statement of defense," he says. "They’ve
just been buying some time." The company is suing Cisco in the Canadian
courts for patent infringement over use of wide-band Orthogonal Frequency
Division Multiplexing (W-OFDM) in products, a suit that the company hopes
will eventually lead to regular payment of royalties on patents it owns that
are used in a wide area of wireless standards today.