Pipex moves closer to WiMax launch

With commercial WiMax trials around the corner, Pipex hopes to be providing an alternative to fixed broadband by the middle of 2007

Pipex is preparing to trial fixed WiMax in "a real situation", following successful testing in Airspan's Stratford-on-Avon facilities.

The service provider is currently in talks with three councils for the trials, although no agreement has been made as yet.

"Lots of people want wireless so we've been inundated with requests," the project’s co-ordinator, Graham Currier, told ZDNet UK on Monday.

"The public sector is an interesting starting point, as they would like us to come and provide certain services straight away," Currier said, although he added that the councils "have a view of what wireless will do that is not necessarily [Pipex's] view".

The Stratford trials showed that Wi-Fi-enabled WiMax receivers can successfully create what Currier called "a small-scale metro zone" — not dissimilar to a hotspot — meaning such equipment is ready for market, at least as a fixed-broadband replacement.

As a result, the trials "may well target areas with an uplink-downlink imbalance", or "somewhere where broadband is pretty poor", Currier said, adding: "One of the things the trial will be telling us is which services are competitive and what sort of price points we must hit".

The trials, operating on a frequency of 3.6GHz, are scheduled to begin in the autumn of this year. Site planning for a full commercial roll-out, pencilled in for the middle of 2007, will begin concurrently.

However, Pipex's WiMax deployment probably won't be the first in the UK, as business broadband provider Urban WiMax intends to launch a service in Westminster by the end of 2006.