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Alvarion Launches WiMax Do-It-Yourself Device

Alvarion has unveiled an inexpensive, self-installable device that's expected to finally bring WiMax to consumers and small businesses.
In a long-awaited move that is expected to bring WiMAX to consumers and small businesses, Alvarion Ltd. unveiled Tuesday inexpensive, self-installable indoor customer premises equipment (CPE) for the wide-area wireless solution.

"It's cheap and easy to install," said Carlton ONeal, Alvarion's vice president of marketing, in an interview Tuesday. "We think this is a breakthrough. It enables you to go mainstream with WiMAX."

The CPE, called the BreezeMAX Si, features simple plug and play installation and will lead to nomadic and portable services. ONeal said the CPE is the size of "a one-slice bagel toaster" and will be priced below $500 when pricing is firmed. He expects the Si CPE will be sold in retail outlets.

The BreezeMAX Si is a product within Alvarion's BreezeMAX 3500 family and has been designed to integrate easily with Alvarion's existing WiMAX deployments. While WiMAX deployments across the world have generally been established in rural and suburban regions, ONeal said the Si CPE is best suited for urban and in-building situations.

"WiMAX normally has a range of a couple of miles, but in buildings it will be less (because) it has to penetrate through walls," said ONeal. "The obvious customers will be those who have already deployed WiMAX." He noted that market research studies have stated that Alvarion's 150 worldwide WiMAX deployments represent some 80 percent of total WiMAX networks.

What about Wi-Fi?

ONeal said the two wireless technologies are compatible and work well together.

The Si CPE, which uses Intel's PRO/Wireless 5116 broadband interface chip, has been successfully tested with 10 different operators, Alvarion said.

Using dual-mode FDD/TDD software-defined radio (SDR), the Si CPE operates in either FDD or TDD mode to enable users to keep their options open for future network designs. Using Web interfaces, the device connects via integrated 9dBi antennas or external 12dBi window mount antennas. A single 10/100 Base-T interface provides easy connectivity with Wi-Fi and voice solutions.

"With its support for nomadic and portable services, the BreezeMAX Si begins the era of mobile WiMAX," said Rudy Leser, the firm's corporate vice president of strategy and marketing, in a statement.