Unwired gets ready for Wi-Max

Wireless broadband provider Unwired is preparing a move to new Wi-Max technology from early next year by investing in 802.16e-programmable equipment.

Wireless broadband provider Unwired is preparing a move to new Wi-Max technology from early next year by investing in 802.16e-programmable equipment.

Unwired announced this morning it was receiving equipment from networking equipment provider Navini Networks early next year that could either be programmed to 802.16e or proprietary Wi-Fi technology.

New LCD modems expected to arrive late this year would also be able to operate in both technologies.

Wi-Max is a standardised wireless version of Ethernet, intended as an alternative to wire technologies such as cable and DSL to provide customers with wireless access. It is based in a version of 802.16 and uses radio waves in the range from 2-11 GHz.

Unwired chief technology officer Eric Hamilton said the Wi-Max mobile standard 802.16e was "likely be ratified as the global standard in late 2005" and that the wireless broadband operator was "well positioned" to move to Wi-Max.

He believes Wi-Max has the potential to "reach the targets required to achieve low cost deployment in a spectrum-efficient manner."

"Unwired is the only operator with a roadmap to achieve timely Wi-Max network implementation and the spectrum required to make mobile IP access competitive and ubiquitous. Furthermore, this spectrum is in bands that are very likely to be the basis of globally harmonised solutions for mobile IP," he said.

Hamilton announced that Unwired will obtain special radio-frequency combiners and high-powered antenna amplifiers which will allow the support of multiple carriers through the same antenna.

"In this way, Unwired can build out areas that can be transferred from a Navini solution to an 802.16e solution at the right time. Unwired has the spectrum and technology to run proprietary and standards-based technology concurrently as customers move to a new standard," he said.

Hamilton said while 3G and High Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) provided "incremental evolution" to cellular networks, they were basically very voice-centric.

According to Unwired, the Wi-Max certification and interoperability testing program is now underway in Spain which makes the commercial release of IEEE 802.16 very "imminent".

"The accelerating trend to IP-based services and applications including Voice over IP (VoIP) and video, coupled with demand for access anytime anywhere, means that Unwired is ideally positioned to play a unique and central role," he said.

Last week, Unwired signed up almost 6,000 new subscribers over the past two months -- which the company said was its best performance since its launch in 2004.