Nokia Siemens in Deal for UK WiMax

By Eric Griffith

April 05, 2007

Britain is close to major WiMax deployment via provider Pipex, but with other options plentiful, do they really need it?

Britain may be a step closer to a major deployment of WiMax in the country. Pipex Wireless, a joint venture of Intel and Pipex Communications, is already working with WiMax equipment provider Airspan on trials -- and it plans to also use equipment from Nokia Siemens Networks to create new commercial WiMax services in the United Kingdom.

Pipex owns a national license on 3.6 to 4.2 GHz frequency range spectrum in the country, which it will use to deploy the network. The Nokia Siemens equipment will support 802.16e-2005, the mobile WiMax specification, even though Pipex is currently only allowed to use the 3.5 GHz frequency for fixed links -- they plan to make a switch in the future as mobility takes off. It'll still work for "nomadic" users who may move but remain connected to the same link; mobility allows hand-off as a user moves from one tower's signal to another.

Pipex is already testing the Airspan WiMax equipment in Milton Keynes, and will be bringing it to Warwick in May. The Nokia hardware will be used in a third pilot going forward, but where that will be remains to be seen. That doesn't mean Pipex is switching completely -- it plans to use dual vendors so it's not tied just to one company.

(Milton Keynes, interestingly enough, is also soon to be home to a Wi-Fi-based mesh deployment from Briteyellow, using equipment from Strix Systems. It currently covers the central business district, but will eventually expand to the full 100 square miles.)

Pipex is currently for sale, but hasn't said how any future acquisition of the company would impact the Pipex Wireless division or these plans for deployment.

Ericsson was also working with Pipex and Airspan on its WiMax trials, but said last month it was pulling the out of WiMax technology to concentrate on 3G, according to Unstrung. Ericsson continues to be a reseller for Airspan, however.

The first Pipex Wireless trial of WiMax took place last year in Stratford-upon-Avon, again using Airspan products, and the company said at the time that the "trial performance exceeds expectations."

Nokia is also one of the announced equipment providers for Sprint Nextel's WiMax plans in the U.S., which, similarly to Pipex, doesn't tie them to just one vendor. Samsung and Motorola are the other providers.

Unstrung analyst Gabriel Brown sees the Pipex Wireless announcement with Nokia as so much posturing, saying that having five 3G operators in the country plus DSL access everywhere will make it superfluous -- and adding that the RF spectrum they have "isn't much use" compared to the 2.5 GHz spectrum soon coming up for auction in the UK. The Pipex Communications parent company itself provided DSL connections to some 570,000 customers as of the end of 2006.

WiMax is off to a slow start in Europe, but is already making some good strides in the United States, and has a very "solid foundation" in the Asia/Pacific region, according to In-Stat. A new report from the analysts there says 16 Asia/Pacific countries will have a combined 31.43 million WiMax subscribers by 2012, with the market taking in $8 billion U.S.

Originally published on .

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