Alvarion Speaks Out on WiMax Certification
August 19, 2005
The company is upset about marketing tactics by competitors who claim their equipment is being tested right now -- when the real certification tests won't begin until October.
When the WiMax Forum launched its certification process at Spains Cetecom Labs in mid-July, a number of companies quickly took the opportunity to announce that their equipment had been shipped to Spain to participate but one company was notably missing from the list: Alvarion.
Some media reports have suggested that this may be an indication of trouble at the company, but Carlton ONeal, Alvarions Vice President of Marketing, insists that everything is proceeding as planned. The actual testing wont begin for months, ONeal says the work being done at Cetecom right now is simply to validate the testing procedures themselves. None of the real work will begin until October, when Wave 1 of certification testing begins.
It might have been a good PR move, ONeal admits, to have sent equipment to the lab as soon as it opened, but he says Alvarion didnt anticipate the degree to which competing companies would use the idea of being first to the lab as a marketing tool.
And the whole story, ONeal insists, is that nothings happening until October.
The rush to be first to the lab, ONeal suggests, comes from a startup company mindset. Startup companies are constantly out raising money theyre out trying to get the latest deal to make their company survive, he says. And so they have a real incentive to say, Im first or Im best.
While a certain degree of that is to be expected, ONeal says, it crosses a line when companies use those assertions to attack their competitors. My guess is that whoevers in the lab now is off privately at meetings telling customers or investors, Were there and were first, he says. I dont have any problem with people doing that privately what I have a problem with is when they go out publicly with it and use it to cast aspersions towards Alvarion.
Of course, Alvarion was also an early participant in a similar PR game with its release of WiMax-ready equipment, but ONeal insists that those assertions were made in a different way. What weve always tried to do and we think its the way to compete fairly is to talk about actual deployments and actual customers, he says. Yes, weve been out saying first as much as anybody, but were trying to tell the whole story.
ONeal says Alvarion plans to ship its equipment to Cetecom by the end of August, in plenty of time for Wave 1 in October. Were sticking with our original plan of being there as the testing is starting to get going the real testing and still being one of the first people certified, he says.
Similarly, ONeal says, Alvarion plans to have certified kit available sometime in the first half of 2006. While other companies are promising to have products available sooner, he says, thats just not possible. Were being practical, he says. The fact of the matter is, everybodys not going to meet certain specs. Im sure there will be a lot of brouhaha about people not passing, but it doesnt matter. Everybodys going to fail some tests, and everybodys going to have to go make changes to their box.
Beyond that, ONeal says, establishing interoperability will provide further challenges which will inevitably make the certification process take even longer. There will be a whole set of things that need to work the same way in order for interoperability to happen, which may or may not be delineated in the spec, he says. Lets just say that only happens with one element which by the way is grossly optimistic but everybodys going to get in a room and argue about it.
As a result, he says, nothing is likely to be resolved before the end of 2005. Now, Im as optimistic as the next guy, and Ill go out and push as hard as I can to make that happen but there are certain steps that have to happen sequentially in order to certified kit to pop out, ONeal says.