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Navini comes in from the cold

Renegade broadband outfit joins WiMax

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Renegade wireless broadband networking vendor Navini Networks has come in from the cold by joining the WiMax Forum. The decision should provide aready-made service provider footprint for the mobile variant of the IEEE's 802.16 metropolitan area networking standard once it comes on stream.

Navini, one of a band of "4G" technology providers, plans to introduce products conforming to 802.16e specification to its existing Mbps non-lineof sight wireless broadband offering, Ripwave. These will benefit from the use of Navini's low-cost smart antennas, based on adaptive phased array technology.

The company will also offer a migration path from its own system to 802.16e, providing its service provider customers with a clear route to adopt the technology at a future point. Navini currently boasts upwards of 25 service provider converts to Ripwave around the world.

Navini's endorsement of WiMax is significant at a time when the technology is too new for mass deployment. Equipment adhering to the much anticipated 802.16d version of the standard is not currently expected to reach the market in volume until next year. 802.16 has the backing of industry luminaries such as Intel and Nokia while some service providers, including AT&T, have also joined the WiMax Forum.

Navini's decision to support WiMax makes sense. Its Ripwave system, while based on proprietary time division duplexing technology known as multi-carrier synchronous CDMA, is designed with similar applications in mind to 802.16.

It is interesting, though, that Navini has never played heavily on the mobility aspect of wireless broadband technology. However, the ability to roam freely between cells and to maintain online access while in motion is an important feature of 802.16e.

Previously, Navini has been a key player, along with 4G rivals Flarion and ArrayComm, in the creation of an alternative wireless broadband standard, known as 802.20 or Mobile Broadband Wireless Access. However, the future of the 802.20 project is currently unclear after the representatives of Navini, ArrayComm and Flarion were voted out of office in June 2003 to be replaced by representatives of Lucent, NTT DoCoMo, and a former senior Motorola executive.

Many 802.20 supporters saw this as a "political coup" to suppress development of the technology by 3G and 802.16e equipment vendors that had managed to gain voting rights.

Source: ComputerWire/Datamonitor

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