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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Pipex WiMAX

There is very interesting news from the up-for-sale, Pipex, about the progression of its joint venture with Intel and co-operation with Nokia Siemens out this morning.

For a little background, Pipex owns a Fixed Wireless Access licence covering 168MHz of spectrum (3605-3689MHz paired with 3925-4009MHz) across the whole of the UK. This may sound a lot of frequency, but the real constraining factor is that it is not a mobile licence and it is quite high in the spectrum.

Pipex acquired the spectrum when it acquired FirstNet and had previously been running trials with Airspan equipment. Obviously, Pipex now plan on using Nokia Siemens in its trials. Even more interesting is that the equipment quoted in the News Release is for Mobile Wimax (802.16e-2005) but the standard also covers fixed access.

wimax Types
Graphic Courtesy of: Wimax Forum

I not a 100% sure what type of access are allowed in the Fixed Wireless licence. I’m guessing just fixed and possibly nomadic access. Although, the use of Mobile Wimax technology implies that if Pipex get the terms of their licence changed then a competitor to the mobile giants in on the cards. I’m not sure that OFCOM would permit this and the Mobile operators would go wild. I even think that it would mean a lower value for the forthcoming auction of 190MHz (2500-2690MHz) spectrum.

Even more interesting was the status of its much hyped trials in Milton Keynes and Warwick:
Pipex Wireless expects over 100 trial customers to be connected by the end of April, rising to 500 in total. Services being trialled include both business and residential offerings with speeds from 2Mbps up to 8Mbps being delivered.

Warwick is the second trial being built by Pipex Wireless in conjunction with Intel Solutions Services, National Grid Wireless and Warwick District Council. Three base stations have been built and the trial will launch on schedule with the Council as lead trial customer in early May. Initial products being provided are fixed line replacement, Council home worker connectivity and a WiMAX/Wi-Fi hotzone.
In other words, they are very, very early stage. I also think the progress isn't that impressive especially since the Milton Keynes trial was announced in Aug 2005 and the Warwick on Jan 2007.

After the plethora of Press Releases over the years, I’m reminded of The Boy who cried Wolf.