WiMax Performs at SUPERCOMM

At SUPERCOMM in Chicago this week, wireless equipment maker Aperto Networks launched its new PacketMAX system. The system is designed to provide full WiMax functionality as well as backward compatibility with Aperto’s PacketWave line – and unlike PacketWave, PacketMAX includes subscriber units targeted to both business and consumer users.

Alan Menezes, Aperto’s Vice President of Marketing, says the company plans to send the system to the Cetecom Labs in Spain for full WiMax Forum certification in late July. Aperto will then start beta testing the products in August and September, with the intention of making them commercially available early in the fourth quarter.

The key difference between PacketMAX and PacketWave, Menezes says, is that where PacketWave uses proprietary chipsets, PacketMAX uses silicon from Fujitsu and Intel. PacketMAX, he adds, also offers greatly increased flexibility, with an Advanced Telecom Computing Architecture (ATCA) chassis. “The whole PacketMAX 5000 platform is much closer to what a service provider needs in terms of capacity, scalability, being able to hot-swap, and redundancy,” he says.

One of Aperto’s central goals in developing the PacketMAX platform, Menezes says, was to make voice as easy to deploy as data is today, using technologies like the company’s ServiceQ quality of service enhancements and OptimaLink link optimization. The new platform also employs a modular architecture that will allow additional functionality, such as 802.16e or mobile WiMax, to simply be plugged into an existing PacketMAX installation. “You can just plug modules in as you see fit,” Menezes says.

While the company hasn’t yet released any pricing information, Menezes says PacketMAX base stations will probably be more expensive than current PacketWave systems because of the additional features and flexibility. On the other hand, he says, PacketMAX subscriber equipment should actually cost less than PacketWave, thanks to the use of non-proprietary silicon.

Aperto also announced this week that broadband wireless provider U.S. Wireless Online has begun deployment of PacketWave systems throughout its 3,000 square mile network, which covers 11 states.

U.S. Wireless is one of four companies that Aperto will be working with to beta test its PacketMAX line over the next few months. Others include the Spanish wireless carrier Iberbanda, U.S. fixed broadband provider TowerStream, and Enertel in the Netherlands. “We have some in Asia as well, though we haven’t released those names yet,” Menezes says.

And Aperto is hardly alone in its efforts.

Also at SUPERCOMM, wireless equipment provider Redline Communications demonstrated a WiMax-based network using its own RedMAX products to deliver voice, video and data. Like Aperto, Redline plans to make its RedMAX line commercially available in the fourth quarter of this year, according to Keith Doucet, Redline’s Vice President of Marketing and Product Management.

“All of the RedMAX equipment demonstrated will be part of the first wave of industry products presented for WiMax certification at the Cetecom lab in July,” he says.

Wi-Fi/VoWiFi Planet Conference Want to learn more about WiMax?

Join us next week at the Wi-Fi/VoWiFi Planet Conference & Expo, June 14-16, 2005, at the Baltimore Convention Center. Sessions like “Wireless ISP Vision” and “Maximizing WLAN Capacity in Public Networks” will address where the new wireless broadband tech will take us.

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