A UK firm has begun construction of the first commercial broadband wireless WiMax network in Britain.
The project has been kicked off by Telabria to deliver high-speed wireless broadband services to residential, business and enterprise customers in the south east of England, and provide back-haul for the firm's installed base of Wi-Fi hotspots in the region.
The service will commence trials in January, with a commercial launch planned for mid-2005.
"We are extremely excited about the network we're building," said Jim Baker, Telabria founder and chief executive, speaking at the WiMax World Conference in Boston.
"WiMax is a revolutionary standard which, over the next few years, will fundamentally change the structure of broadband networks."
Telabria last month joined the WiMax Forum, the industry body formed to promote and certify the compatibility and interoperability of IEEE 802.16 broadband wireless products.
The firm said that it will deploy its network initially in Kent, which has a population of over one and a half million in an area of 1,442 square miles.
Telabria promised to use the infrastructure to deliver wireless broadband services uniting voice, video and data to urban and suburban centres as well as to rural regions currently under-served by copper-based broadband.
"We believe that in the UK market WiMax-based services can compete head-on with fixed-line residential and SoHo contended broadband such as ADSL, as well as offering SME customers a wireless alternative to uncontended T1/E1, leased line or faster services," said Baker.
"To enable this we have designed a hybrid wireless distribution network using technologies that offer excellent performance, scalable capacity, carrier-grade quality of service, rapid provisioning and low-cost subscriber units."
Telabria will deploy 802.16 compliant WiMax equipment for both back-haul and point-to-multipoint links. For the 'last mile' connection to subscribers, the firm said that it has chosen SkyPilot Network of Belmont, California and its SkyPilot System.
Telabria has been deploying Wi-Fi hotspots located in pubs, inns, hotels and public libraries across central London, Essex, Sussex, Surrey and Kent at a rate of 25 per month. It plans to replace the existing ADSL-based back-haul at these sites with WiMax.
"With its high aggregate capacity and non line-of-sight characteristics, WiMax is ideal for back-hauling from multiple hotspots, and we want to completely cut out any reliance on the copper local loop as soon as possible," said Baker.
"Furthermore, our Wi-Fi hotspots of today will also be our WiMax points-of-presence of tomorrow, enabling us to build networks where our customers are always 'best connected' wherever they are in our coverage area."
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