Wi-Fi News Briefs for WISPs

By Gerry Blackwell

June 04, 2002

The latest on new Alvarion gear; Surf's Up in the Rocky Mountains; and report on Wi-Fi to overtake MMDS in the U.S.

New Alvarion Gear
Surf's Up in the Rocky Mountains
Wi-Fi to Overtake MMDS in the U.S.

New Alvarion Gear

Alvarion Ltd. recently launched two products of interest to wireless Internet service providers (WISPs), the 5.8GHz BreezeNET DS.5800 bridging system and the Cell Extender (CX) for the BreezeACCESS product line.

With the DS.5800 bridge, Alvarion is targeting enterprises and operators looking for cost-competitive, point-to-point and point-to-multipoint solutions. The product enables wireless Internet backhauls for WISPs and campus bridging for enterprises, while avoiding exposure to interference from more common 2.4GHz systems, such as Wi-Fi networks.

"The BreezeNET DS.5800 is the first of multiple product releases in 5GHz for Alvarion this year," said Rudy Leser, Vice President Marketing, Alvarion Ltd. "It marks the initial step toward our mixed spectrum model, which will give operators and enterprises maximum flexibility and choice."

Alvarion claims the system offers extensive cost savings. It is significantly less expensive than competing systems. And the highly integrated outdoor form factor of the DS.5800 is designed to keep installation costs low. The product is available with built-in antennas, for example, and it features integrated power over Ethernet (PoE) and lightning protection - precluding the need for additional hardware. The integrated indoor/outdoor architecture reduces skill level and time required to install a connection.

According to Alvarion, the DS.5800 bridge unit's integrated high power provides for ranges of up to 30 miles at data rates of up to 11 Mbps. It is compatible with any standard Ethernet switch and router and features a light emitting diode (LED) display that includes a 10-LED received signal strength indication (RSSI) bar for easy antenna alignment and fade margin analysis.

The DS.5800 also includes local or remote simple network management protocol (SNMP) systems, making the bridge unit readily deployable, scalable as the network environment changes, and easy to monitor. The product's firmware offers advanced capabilities such as local or remote batch configuration and upgradeability, making the addition of new users and system management a breeze.

Pricing for the DS.5800 was not immediately available, but the BreezeACCESS Cell Extender lists at $2,995. The CX unit is designed to receive and redistribute broadband coverage from a primary wireless base station. That way, subscribers that were beyond the range of the primary cell or who were previously unreachable from the primary station due to obstructions such as foliage or hills, can connect to an access point.

This eliminates the need to deploy new backhauls and base stations to connect pockets of otherwise inaccessible customers, significantly improving the economics for wireless broadband deployments, Alvarion says. In addition, the CX can serve concurrently as an active subscriber node since each unit includes a standard Ethernet connection. Operators can deploy the CX at customer premises, avoiding the need for a site lease.

Alvarion says this characteristic, plus the combined ability to generate revenue -- both as an active node and as a cell extender -- to access additional customers, make the CX a compelling addition to the business case.

The CX uses a two-piece architecture with both components designed to be installed outdoors. The components are connected using an intermediate frequency (IF) that carries both power and data. This design permits a high degree of installation flexibility and eliminates the need for expensive runs of specialized land mobile radio or heliax cables.

(Back to top)

Surf's Up in the Rocky Mountains

Baton Rouge, Louisiana-based fixed wireless equipment and service provider USURF America is starting to make waves.

In the last two months, the company has picked up new funding, new management, new strategies and reached a breakthrough agreement to provide high-speed wireless service to customers of SunWest Communications, a Colorado Springs, Colo. competitive local exchange carrier. (CLEC).

In April, USURF, developer of Quick-Cell, a broadband Wi-Fi fixed wireless Internet access system, announced new equity financing of $250,000. The funding was led by Evergreen Venture Partners LLC, an Israeli-based private wireless communications investment company. Evergreen purchased equity securities of the company.

At the same time, Douglas McKinnon, a 28-year veteran of the communications industry and an affiliate of Evergreen, became the company's president and chief executive officer, also joining its board of directors.

Then later in the month, USURF announced it was expanding its marketing strategy.

"Our initial market focus of under served and rural markets provides an obvious market need," McKinnon said, "but we are now expanding our scope toward specific applications and vertical markets that will create differentiated shareholder value."

Examples of new verticals markets include the hospitality, education, aviation, multiple dwelling units (MDU), planned community developments (PCD), independent local exchange companies, utilities, municipalities and special situation markets.

"Our value proposition to these new verticals will be, 'Let USURF design, deploy and own the network so you can concentrate on what you do best -- run your business,'" McKinnon said.

USURF said it intended to develop partnerships with companies that need to create or extend broadband connectivity for their customers, employees and partners. "This way we can scale USURF and deliver a stronger and more compelling financial performance," McKinnon said.

In May USURF announced it had entered into just such an agreement with one of its new target customers. Under the agreement, USURF and SunWest will share Quick-Cell revenues generated from sales of wireless broadband Internet access services to SunWest's customers.

They will also market Quick-Cell service throughout the greater Colorado Springs area. SunWest is to provide all wireline communications infrastructure -- including the broadband backhaul connectivity -- necessary for the implementation of USURF's Quick-Cell, as well as Quick-Cell marketing, installation, customer-care and billing activities.

USURF will provide the Wi-Fi standard Quick-Cell infrastructure, including the necessary fixed-wireless tower equipment and all customer premises equipment.

Under the three year exclusive agreement, USURF will provide availability to its Quick-Cell broadband wireless Internet access services to all 6,000 of SunWest's telephone customers in its service area.

"This clearly is a win/win situation for SunWest's existing voice communications customers and USURF," said McKinnon. "SunWest's customers now will be able to surf the web at speeds up to 50 times faster than dial-up service, with one number to call for any service issues and one bill."

(Back to top)

Wi-Fi to Overtake MMDS in the U.S.

High-tech market research firm In-Stat/MDR says that the recent migration of 802.11 as an operating standard into the license-exempt fixed wireless broadband market in the U.S. will result in a much needed, and unexpected, growth spurt for the stagnant broadband fixed wireless market.

In-Stat expects that, as WISPs continue to flood the licensed-exempt band, fixed wireless will eventually become a significant player in the broadband access technology space.

In 2002 alone, the licensed-exempt service for fixed wireless in the U.S. will grow three-fold, and by 2006 over two-thirds of all wireless broadband subscriptions will be on a licensed-exempt system, In-Stat predicts.

"Until very recently, the fixed wireless industry, especially in the U.S., had taken a real beating," says Ernie Bergstrom, a senior analyst with In-Stat/MDR. "Multi-point Multi-channel Distribution Service (MMDS) is on hold for Sprint, as the company waits for a more economical solution to be brought forth by the wireless manufacturing industry, and WorldCom, while also doing some watchful waiting, is still offering service, but only in established markets.

"The Local Multi-point Distribution Service (LMDS) has faced growth challenges, as well, stemming from the high cost of providing the service to the business community."

With the extension of 802.11 from internal Wireless Local Area Networks (WLANs) to outside the building, the license-exempt service is enabling service providers to deliver reliable service that can be deployed quickly and is priced competitively with digital subscriber line (DSL) access and cable modem services, without having to buy expensive licenses.

The report, The Momentum of 802.11 Accelerates the Fixed Wireless Market, also found that:

Licensed-exempt will overtake MMDS in the U.S. However, MMDS will make a comeback in late 2003, as second-generation equipment comes on the market.

Residential subscriptions to fixed wireless broadband in the U.S. will grow from approximately 338,000 in the end of 2001 to 3.1 million by the end of 2006. Over this time period, licensed-exempt services will have the greatest growth with residential subscribers--from 123,000 in 2001 to almost 2.5 million by 2006.

The international market is doing very well with LMDS, with its backhaul offerings to cellular service providers and access service to the business community for high-speed Internet service. LMDS service will continue to pick up steam. MMDS is projected to grow well in Latin American and other undeveloped countries.

Reprinted from ISP-Planet.

Comment and Contribute
(Maximum characters: 1200). You have
characters left.