Leading wireless vendors have combined forces with the aim of introducing wireless broadband coverage across metropolitan areas Richard Thurston reports.
Intel, Nokia, Proxim and Alvarion, amongst others, have formed an alliance, known as WiMAX, which will promote and certify industry equipment to support wireless metropolitan area networks.
The technology has been dubbed Wireless MAN, as the equipment used will be technically similar to that used in wireless LANs.
If the model proves successful, it would offer services to rival last mile technologies including DSL, and perhaps even 3G.
Whilst several companies have tried --- and often failed --- to run broadband wireless services, this is the first alliance which has been formed to address the key issues of cost and interoperability between vendors' equipment.
"Wireless LANs have been working wonders, and the IEEE [the international standards body] is saying this is complementary to Wireless LAN. In a few years, this could be the technology for truly mobile wireless broadband," said Richard Dineen, research director of wireless at Ovum, the analyst group.
Based around the 802.16a standard from the IEEE, wireless MAN would allow networks of up to 30 miles in radius using either licensed or unlicensed spectrum.
Using unlicensed spectrum would mean operators would get to market far quicker than present wireless service providers, which may have to apply to their goverments for licences.