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Customer premise equipment
A subscriber station or CPE is composed of three main elements: the PHY, which includes a base band, the MAC and an analogue RF front-end that serves as the means of placing signals into a specific frequency band. Equipment vendors look to chip makers to provide complete and reference designs, bills of materials, components and software/firmware to manufacture WiMAX-certifiable equipment.
For the manufacturers the total cost of chipsets will initially vary around a base price point of $100. The less-than-$100 price point is precisely what vendors are trying to achieve. The CPE chip players include both large players and small- and medium-sized start-ups. On one hand, a giant like Intel is interested in this market; on the other
STRATEGY FOR SUCCESS: EQUIPMENT VENDORS
Figure 11.4 BWA vendor market share 2004
hand, start-ups like Cygnus Communications are working aggressively to take a substantial piece. However, although the big players have already released silicon products for WiMAX, start-ups seem to have more ‘foil ware’ than products (Figure 11.4).
11.2 ORIGINAL EQUIPMENT MANUFACTURERS
WiMAX equipment vendors come from two distinct camps, those historically involved with the fixed-wireless access business and the newcomers to the market. Companies that have, or are developing, WiMAX-compatible products for the fixed broadband access markets include:
• Airspan Networks Inc.;
• Alvarion Ltd;
• Aperto Networks;
• Cambridge Broadband Ltd;
• Navini Networks Inc.;
• Proxim Corp.;
• Redline Communications Inc.;
ORIGINAL EQUIPMENT MANUFACTURERS
• Siemens AG;
• SR Telecom Inc.;
• ZTE Corp.
Note that, although these vendors are currently focused on 802.16-2004 ‘Fixed WiMAX’, many of them are also plotting a migration to the newer 802.16e spec, which is more suitable for portable and mobile subscriber stations.
Newcomers to the market are typically targetting mobility and the newer 802.16e spec from the outset, and it is this that has attracted several of the mobile infrastructure market’s big guns to WiMAX. Vendors that have announced initiatives include:
• Adaptix Inc.;
• LG Electronics Inc.;
• Motorola Inc.;
• Navini Networks Inc.;
• Nokia Corp.;
• Nortel Networks Ltd;
• Posdata Co. Ltd;
• Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd;
• Lucent Technologies Inc.;
• Ericsson AB.
Vendors will see that WiMAX and Mesh Network product market provide excellent opportunities. More multi-million dollar networking projects will be seen in next few years than ever. A major thrust will come from metropolitan markets, especially those run by municipalities.
On the operator side, more new players will emerge, with most of the buying in the next few years coming from players not even existing in the telecom operations landscape today, while other big segments will be held by non-3G cellular companies.
Amongst various types of equipment, the inclination will surely be heavily towards the unlicensed and mobile segments. The need for integrated infrastructure, that is, mobile (GSM/CDMA) and broadband, will rise steadily.
The key to success will be speed in delivering the new product. One of the key methods of accelerating uptake of a new technology is the development of reference platforms, which reduce time to market for
258 STRATEGY FOR SUCCESS: EQUIPMENT VENDORS
OEMs. Depending on the area of expertise, vendors must come out with such solutions as early as possible.
11.3 CHIP MANUFACTURERS
There are a number of start-ups and established semiconductor firms angling for a piece of WiMAX business. In the first phase, vendors are targeting the 802.16-2004 fixed WiMAX market with devices intended for outdoor CPE devices and self-install desktop modems. Chipsets for notebook PCs represent the second phase of development and could be available as soon as next year.
Developers are also working on devices for the upcoming 802.16e ‘Mobile WiMAX’ standard, with some start-ups focusing exclusively on this opportunity. Production of 802.16e chipsets is generally expected around the 2007-2008 timeframe.
Although a large volume of the WiMAX chipset market will be catering to the end-user device segment, there are also vendors focused on the base-station infrastructure, where greater processing power may be required and power consumption is less of an issue.
Here is an indicative list of WiMAX silicon vendors:
• Altera Corp.;
• Analog Devices Inc.;
• Aspex Semiconductor Ltd.;
• Beceem Communications Inc.;
• Cygnus Communications Inc.;
• Fujitsu Ltd.;
• Intel Corp.;
• PicoChip Designs Ltd.;
• Runcom Technologies Ltd.;
• Sequans Communications;
• TeleCIS Wireless Inc.;
• Wavesat Wireless Inc.;
• Xilinx Inc.
While most of the above-listed developers are working on 802.16 PHY and MAC components, or system-on-a-chip products, there are also a number of specialist suppliers of RF ‘front-end’ silicon for WiMAX devices. They include