Proxim's Wi-Fi Solution

By Jim Wagner

May 22, 2002

With Western Multiplex under its belt, the company feels confident its new broadband services division has the tools it needs to compete for last-mile provider attention.

Proxim Corp. has bundled its many wireless products together to form a broadband services division catering to service providers, officials announced Wednesday.

Kevin Duffy, former Siemens Information and Communications Mobile vice president of home networking, has been tapped as the general manager of the new division. His first job: get the word out about Proxim's new wireless end-to-end solutions and find Internet service providers (ISPs), businesses, universities -- anyone -- to deploy the integrated systems.

Wednesday's announcement of a division marketed towards service providers is the culmination of a year-long process for ever-expanding Proxim. The stock purchase of Card Access, Inc., last August gave the company an 802.11a (the next-generation, high-speed alternative to 802.11b found in most home networks) product line, while the acquisition of Western Multiplex gave Proxim the last-mile and integration tools it needed to be an end-to-end equipment provider.

Because these products used to be under a different brand name, it's easy to lose track of the popular wireless equipment Proxim now has under its belt.

Western Multiplex was best know for its Tsunami line of Ethernet bridges, with its point-to-multipoint equipment delivering 20-860 Mbps of wireless capacity, as well as its Lynx microwave radios that bridged the gap between the last mile and the telephone company's land-based network. Inside the business, Harmony's wireless local area network (WLAN) provides compatibility for 802.11a and 802.11b wireless standards, freeing company's from having to buy a new network when they upgrade to the faster 802.11a.

Dave King, Proxim president and chief operating officer, expects the division's to bring together in one package all that the recent mergers have created.

"The broadband services division will help us get closer to the market and focus on what we believe to be the major strategic promise of our recent merger," he said. "We have created this new division in order to fulfill the promise of integrating our fixed-wireless and mobile wireless products in order to provide low-cost, high-speed access to residences and public spaces."

Proxim joins a crowded, and competitive, area of the wireless industry. Lucent spinoff Agere , with its popular Orinoco equipment line, is well-known to the company. The two spent much of last year embroiled in a patent disputes over 802.11b technology. Agere aside, Proxim also faces stiff competition from Cisco Systems, Inc. , Intel , D-Link, and Buffalo.

According to Gemma Paulo, an analysts with Cahner's Instat, a market research firm, WLAN sales have surged in the first half of 2002, with a 10 percent growth in units shipped. The increase, she said, is two-fold.

"Although the economy was stagnant and business budgets were relatively tight in 1Q02, the WLAN market grew for two main reasons," Paulo said. "First, end-users in the home and in the business are increasingly attracted to the mobility that WLANs offer, and secondly, the cost of implementing Wi-Fi networks continues to fall, as an increasing number of vendors enter the market, and a wider variety of equipment is released into the market."



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