Proxim is Big on Bundles

By Alex Goldman

October 29, 2002

With products running from the edge of the network to its core, Proxim wants to know why service providers bother to call the phone company for backhauls. Until it has the answer, the company will make wireless products easier to deploy by bundling one-box solutions.

Proxim is well known for its home networking products. A HomeRF pioneer, the company nearly guaranteed the success of 802.11 wireless technologies when the company announced it would make Wi-Fi gear, too.

Proxim Corp. was created by the merger between Proxim, Inc. and Western Multiplex in March 2002. The company is a leading provider of high-performance wireless local area networking (WLAN) and wireless wide area networking (WAN) products. Proxim holds leading shares in the fast-growing markets for 802.11b, 802.11a, and license-exempt fixed wireless networking systems. It's wireless products include top brand names like the ORiNOCO line of products, which the company acquired from Agere in September, as well as Tsunami wireless Ethernet bridges and the lineup of LYNX spread spectrum unlicensed radios from Western Multiplex.

Amir Zoufounon, executive vice president and general manager of Proxim's WAN division, gladly concedes that that company has some of the top brands names in the wireless arena. What he cannot figure out is why service providers bother to call their local telco for wireline services when they could build an "end-to-end" wireless solution.

"It's not a pie in the sky kind of thing," says Zoufounon. "It's here now."

Zoufounon added that it must be simply a matter of habit that service providers to call their local telco first.

"I don't understand why people still call the phone company for point-to-point links," says Zoufounon. "Given the cost comparison between the monthly payment for a T-1 line and the one-time setup cost of a wireless link, I guess they don't know there is an alternative."

Dylan Brooks, Jupiter Research senior analyst, says that the role of wireless in the backhaul is increasing, but that it is not yet ready to replace all wired systems.

"Fixed wireless as fiber replacement is a niche product that is growing because it can be provisioned faster than fiber, but there is no innate advantage to wireless technology," says Brooks. "For some specific scenarios, such as point-to-point campus links, wireless makes more sense than fiber, but wireless will not soon replace cable or fiber in all scenarios."

Bundled services

Zoufounon said the combination of popular brands under one roof was supposed to be an incentive for service providers and large carriers to purchase Proxim products.

"We believe that people want to deal with one 800 number for service across the network, and that they want to use the same software across the network," says Zoufounon.

Click to view larger imageProxim has taken advantage of its end-to-end product offering to produce an interesting bundle, the Tsunami QuickBridge Hop in a Box (left). The bundle includes: two outdoor bridge units, two sets of mounting hardware, two power over Ethernet (PoE) adapters, two sets of fifty meter CAT-5 cable, and instruction manuals. The bundle lists at $3,499.

"We introduced the 'hop in a box' bundle at N+I last quarter and it has contributed to sales. It's a very popular product," says Zoufounon.

The "hop in a box" expands on a concept introduced by Agere in December of 2001. At the time the company released its ORiNOCO Radio Backbone Kit which, for $2,795, provided all the equipment you'd need to set up a single wireless bridge. It included two OR-500 Radio Backbone Termination Nodes, two Yagi antennas, and all the required cables and accessories.

Expect to see similar bundles from Proxim in the future. Zoufounon is enthusiastic about the concept.

"Whether you're sending 960 Mbps over up to 40 miles with our Tsunami products, sending 20 or 60 Mbps over up to 6 miles (using the 5 GHz band) with our Tsuanmi QuickBridge products, or just looking for a 5 Mbps hop on the 802.11b protocol with the old OR-590 kit (now rebranded as the Tsunami QuickBridge 10), you'll be enthusiastic about a bundle that offers you a single product number -- just one credit card purchase -- and a one-day install."

Alex Goldman is associate editor for ISP-Planet.



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