WiMAX and LTE in Brief November 17 2010

Sequans and Gemtek have announced a partnership to incorporate the French chip designer’s LTE basebands in several Gemtek devices, including a compact

Sequans and Gemtek have announced a partnership to incorporate the French chip designer’s LTE basebands in several Gemtek devices, including a compact USB dongle and a desktop CPE. These should be ready for operator trials in the first quarter of next year. The new devices are based on Sequans’ SQN3000 series systems-on-chip.

Research firm Maravedis predicts over 350m LTE subscribers by 2016, while the number of WiMAX subscribers should reach 50m. “Market forecasts have been revised to reflect the economic slowdown and the progress made by the LTE ecosystem,” said research director Adlane Fellah. With over 600 WiMAX deployments, 185 devices and 62 base stations certified, the worldwide WIMAX industry will number over 13m subscribers at the end of 2010, 57% of them mobile as of Q210. TD-LTE subscribers should reach 40m by 2016, with the bulk in China and India. LTE adoption rate will reach 32% in the fifth year after commercial launch.

Portuguese wireless broadband operator has chosen ZTE to supply it with a WiMAX network to offer high speed internet services alongside its 450MHz CDMA network, which it is upgrading to EV-DO Rev B, also with ZTE. The WiMAX contract, valued at €30m, will enable Zapp to launch broadband services in Lisbon, Porto and other cities across Portugal by July 2011. Broadband services using the CDMA450 system are for remote rural areas.

Rural operator Bluegrass Cellular has entered into an agreement with Verizon Wireless to bring LTE to central Kentucky. Verizon will lease its 700MHz upper C-block spectrum to Bluegrass in its service areas where Verizon has not built a network.

Bulgarian WiMAX operator Max Telecom has upgraded the data transfer rate of its mobile service to 8Mbps in capital Sofia and will extend the upgrade to other regions over the coming weeks. Max uses Samsung equipment and spent €15m on the upgrade and on extending to cover 65% of the population from 15%.

New Zealand’s ICT ministry has invited applications for 2.5GHz spectrum. Here, the band is likely to be of interest to smaller operators, local and regional councils, and iwi (Maori groups). The government is also considering relaxing acquisition caps in adjacent bands as it considers tenders for the Rural Broadband Initiative.

Aviat Networks has won a WiMAX network deployment contract from Nigerian internet service provider, Direct On PC. The equipment and services contract includes 200 base station locations. Initially, this equipment will be deployed throughout Lagos, the largest city in Nigeria and second largest in Africa, and then will move to capital Abuja and Port Harcourt. Two other WiMAX operators are expanding in Nigeria. Swift Networks is running trials in Lagos and pan-African broadband player Mobitel has gone live with WiMAX in Lagos also. It plans to spend $350m to expand its network nationwide by the end of 2012, using 2.3GHz spectrum.

According to a new report from Juniper Research, worldwide service revenues generated by LTE networks are forecast to grow quickly once these are launched, reaching $100bn by 2014.

WiMAX vendor Alvarion announced a loss for its third quarter thanks to slower sales but said the outlook was better for the current fourth quarter, though it did not offer precise guidance as the timing of revenue from some projects could not be predicted accurately. Alvarion posted a Q3 net loss of nine cents per share, excluding one-time items and down from break-even last year. Revenue decreased 7.5% to $54m year-on-year, but this was up 10.2% from Q210. Meanwhile, US rural provider KeyOn Communications Holdings selected Alvarion to supply WiMAX for rural communities in Nevada. KeyOn was granted a $10.2m broadband stimulus award for the project in 3.65GHz spectrum.

Japan’s NTT DoCoMo does not plan to charge a high premium for LTE services, compared to 3G. It will charge a flat rate fee of $80 a month when the service is launched in December.

Econet Wireless Zimbabwe says it has already signed up 100,000 wireless broadband subscribers after relaunching its 3G and WiMAX services last month over upgraded core infrastructure.

Italian wireless operator Linkem has contracted Alvarion to expand its WiMAX network to provide wireless broadband coverage to six more regions. The company, which was awarded 13 regional WiMAX licenses in 2008, went live with the country’s first commercial WiMAX service in the same year. According to Linkem, the €5m expansion contract will enable it to provide broadband services to the Italian regions of Lombardia Veneto, Lazio, Campania, Puglia, Calabria and Sicilia. Alvarion will supply the RAN, core network, end user devices and professional services.

Agri-Valley Broadband (AVBI), a subsidiary of rural internet service provider Agri-Valley Communications, has announced it is deploying LTE in rural areas of Michigan in 700MHz, using equipment from Nokia Siemens. The company says it expects to cover 40 counties in the northern Lower Peninsula and eastern Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
AccessKenya has expanded its WiMAX network to the towns of Nyeri, Nanyuki and Mukurwe-ini in central Kenya. The carrier signed up 3,000 residential customers during 2009, and is expecting to reach 7,000 by the end of this year.

Cornet-AM, wholly owned by Russian telco Comstar United TeleSystems, has extended its footprint with the launch of a pilot WiMAX network in the Armenian town of Tsaghkadzor. The OmniMAX wireless solution provided by Greek-based Intracom Telecom was used in the project, with coverage extended across the entire municipality. Cornet-AM’s commercial WiMAX-based services are currently available in 19 major cities of Armenia, as well as villages within a 20km radius of cities with WiMAX coverage.

Tellabs has been selected by Fanoos Telecom, in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, for the deployment of a WiMAX network. Fanoos opted for the Tellabs SmartCore platform for its interoperability with multiple RAN vendors. Fanoos will begin roll-out in the cities of Sulaymaniyah, Mosul and Kirkuk.

Airspan, through partner Pinnacle Wireless, has been selected by the New Jersey Transit Authority (NJTA) for a state-wide deployment to enable monitoring, control and communications along the two main New Jersey highways. The project consists of over 100 WiMAX sectors operating in the 4.9GHz public safety band, to be deployed along 360 miles of the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway.

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