Cable operators are facing competition—and some optimists hope cooperation—from a three-legged broadband wireless industry as it positions itself for a move into the wireless space. WiMAX is getting an unprecedented groundswell of support, particularly from Intel, but its mobile specification is unlikely to be nailed down before late next year or early 2007. Time division code division multiple access (TD-CDMA) is supported primarily by IPWireless and for now sports an international flavor, although the company recently announced a trial with Nextel in the Washington, D.C., area. Then there’s Flarion. The company’s fast low-latency access with seamless handoff orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (FLASH-OFDM) technology, which originated in the late 1990s in Bell Labs, is now in trials with Japan Telecom and Tohoku University’s Research Center for seamless roaming and handoff between fixed Wi-Fi and mobile broadband. “Very often people just lump all of us together in the same bucket, but very much we are deployed in different spectrum than IPWireless and WiMAX” in the 2.5 GHz range, said Ronny Haraldsvik, Flarion’s vice president of global communications and marketing. “They’re probably competing against each other vs. Flarion, which, for the most part comes up against (mostly Qualcomm-based) CDMA DO (Data Only)” in the sub-2 GHz range. Listen up The cable industry is paying attention to Flarion’s 700 MHz expertise because that spectrum, closely held by broadcasters, public safety and some licensed holders, could spring loose for auction in the next couple years. “There is going to be a lot of 700 MHz spectrum available,” Haraldsvik said. The broadcasters, by law, have until 2006 to let go of it, and when they do, “700 is prime real estate for mobility and rural broadband penetration and in-building penetration.” Cable operators might more easily enter into wireless via 700 MHz because the traditional cell carriers are already heavily invested in other spectrum. That leaves cable pretty much competing with the likes to T-Mobile, which trails other U.S. carriers in the amount of spectrum it holds in the auctions. Another wild card in this play is that T-Mobile is considered by many to be an acquisition target for some cable operator or consortium of operators. (For background on that possibility, see this week’s “Proxy Server.”) That scenario leaves vendors like Flarion telling T-Mobile and the cable operators about how to use FLASH-OFDM in the 700 MHz space. “We’ve probably been in talks with cable MSOs for the last 18 months,” Haraldsvik said. “They have not been sitting still in this game. They have been looking at MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) opportunities, partnership opportunities, M&A opportunities. There’s a lot going on, and where it looks like chaos, there are a lot of opportunities.” Moving targets Flarion must differentiate itself from the other players in the broadband wireless space while simultaneously distancing itself from the mobile third generation (3G) plays. But it cannot lose sight of what’s going on with other broadband wireless players. “All of these technologies are going to have to work together,” Haraldsvik said. “Can Flarion be WiMAX in the future? Yes, but we’re not going to give away our technology.” In the meantime, he said, Flarion is the place to look “when it comes to mobile broadband data, IP and where everything is headed. We’re OFDM-based for more distance, capacity and triple play services. If anything, we are now at the stage where our technology is being commercialized, being adopted country by country.” That’s the case in Japan where the trial will use the 2 GHz band to verify high-speed Internet access and seamless roaming as well as mobile-to-fixed handoff with wireless LANs using 802.11b/g/a (Wi-Fi) standards and FLASH-OFDM to create a seamless broadband experience with average downstream speeds between 1 and 1.5 Mbps, peaking at 3.2 Mbps and 300-500 kbps upstream. -Jim Barthold

The Daily


Dover Named WIT Winner

The 2023 Women in Technology Award goes to Cox Business VP, Product Megan Dover.

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2023 Most Powerful Women Awards Nomination close on September 8, 2023.
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