Marconi joins the Wimax Forum

Marconi is the latest big name to join the Wimax Forum, which is expected to certify its first long-range wireless broadband...

Marconi is the latest big name to join the Wimax Forum, which is expected to certify its first long-range wireless broadband products next year.

Marconi joins Intel, Proxim, Nokia, Lucent, Nortel, Cisco, Siemens and Alcatel in the forum, which is developing wireless equipment that can carry data over a theoretical maximum distance of 50km at speeds of up to 75mbps.

Wimax chips for customer premises equipment have been promised by Intel, with the first Wimax connectivity products expected in Europe next year.

Wimax should make it possible for providers to build cost-effective, high-speed wireless networks for businesses and remote workers in urban or rural environments.

As well as being relatively easy to self-install, the technology could help to fill a broadband connectivity gap in areas without a DSL or cable broadband link.

"It is exciting to see a company like Marconi bringing its wireless heritage and experience to the Wimax Forum," said forum president Ron Resnick.

"With companies like Marconi, the Wimax Forum is able to represent all areas of the wireless industry in bringing standards-based broadband wireless access to the world."

Alex Marshall, Marconi's vice-president of product marketing, said, "The Wimax Forum's goal to produce interoperability profiles from the standard will do much to promote the use of broadband wireless access. It will not only make the technology much more accessible for service providers and consumers, but also make the concept of a universally available broadband network achievable."

Wimax could plug gap in broadband coverage

Wimax gives broadband service providers a cut-price way to offer a service to customers who would not normally have access to broadband. 

Many rural areas are not covered by broadband, and Wimax is set to plug the gaps. In addition, as it only uses cheap customer premises equipment, the technology may also be a good way for alternative providers to build market share in built-up areas. 

Analyst firm Yankee Group said that although the use of DSL and cable will continue to grow while Wimax products await certification, there will still be an under-served portion of the market of up to 20%.  

Yankee analyst Lindsay Schroth said, "Providers have found a sweet spot for broadband wireless access in the rural markets and as a land-line rental replacement service in other areas, where the revenue justifies equipment costs - which are lower with Wimax."  Growth in Wimax connectivity is expected to take off once PCs are embedded with Wimax chips in about 2007.

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