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Somerfield trials WiMax in Manchester

The supermarket chain is trialling the high-bandwidth, long-range wireless technology, supplied by the virtual network operator Vanco
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

The supermarket chain Somerfield is trialling the long-range, high-bandwidth wireless technology WiMax.

According to the virtual network operator providing the service, Vanco, WiMax has already been deployed for Somerfield in Manchester. Vanco claims to be the first managed services provider to offer WiMax for corporate wide area networks (WANs). However, the service itself is actually provided by Vialtus, known until recently as Pipex Business, and "powered by" Freedom4, the WiMax company previously known as Pipex Wireless.

It is not yet clear in what context Somerfield has deployed the technology or what it is being used for, although Freedom4 promotes its fixed WiMax product as a wireless alternative to symmetric DSL (SDSL).

"2008 has been touted as the year of WiMax in the UK and here we are seeing another step in developing a robust broadband wireless solution for corporate users," said Freedom4 business development director Graham Currier on Wednesday. "WiMax offers the benefits of a 'personal' wireless service for staff on the move, temporary installations and those needing to send, as well as receive, large files."

Fixed WiMax is starting to make inroads in the UK, mostly through limited deployments by Freedom4. Mobile WiMax is keenly anticipated by many as a rival technology to 3G-based standards, but it will only be possible to deploy it if the technology wins out in an upcoming radio spectrum auction.

Andy Sumner, Vanco UK's managing director, said the Somerfield deployment showed "Vanco's speed and skill at integrating new and exciting services and technologies into global corporate networks", as a result of Vanco being "the only company that is totally focused upon enterprise networking demands".

"[Vanco] does not have to balance what is best for enterprise network customers against the demands of a consumer and SME business as its asset-based carrier [ABC] competitors do," Sumner added.

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