Wi-Fi Goes to China

By Eric Griffith

September 08, 2003

A number of companies including Proxim, Ericsson, and IPWireless are making moves to bring wireless hotspots and broadband to the teeming masses of mainland China.

In separate announcement today, a few wireless companies have been unveiling plans to move their technologies into use in mainland China soon -- a country with a potential market of $900 million for wireless equipment by 2007 (according to Synergy Research Group).

IPWireless of San Bruno, Calif., makers of a 3G-based (UMTS TD-CDMA standard) wireless broadband technologies, said today it's entering a development and distribution partnership with China's UP Tech, which is based in Beijing. UP Tech will be creating new subscriber station units with integrated 802.11 access points, similar to that announced with Possio of Sweden earlier this month. Such units can be instantly deployed to create a hotspot with wireless backhaul to the ISP, in this case an IPWireless operator.

Also making the move into the wide-open Chinese hotspot market is Proxim . They're teaming with wireless infrastructure leader Ericsson , and will provide software-modified versions of the ORiNOCO AP-2000 access point to be used in wireless setups Ericsson will deliver to China Mobile, the country's largest telco. Ericsson provides the access point controller.

Currently China Mobile plans to put public hotspots in 10 major cities and provinces including Beijing, Chongqing, Shandong, and Yunnan. The Proxim products will be distributed by system integrator Digital China. They will also provide tech support and maintenance for the ORiNOCO products.

Kevin Duffy, the senior vice president of product management at Proxim, says this deal is a big win for his company: "Providing the access points for this [is a start], but we also have WAN equipment. We want to connect those hotspots with our outdoor radios as well... eventually we want to extend [to Ericsson] the whole portfolio."

Ericsson announced last month a $600 million dollar agreement with Guangdong Mobile, a subsidiary of China Mobile, to expand a GSM network in Guangdong Province. According to Duffy, this is a subcomponent of that deal.

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