Canadian firm buys Aviat's WiMax business


Four years ago WiMax and LTE (Long Term Evolution) were fighting to be the next generation of wireless broadband technology, promising to offer at least wireline speeds. Fixed WiMax (also known as the IEEE's 802.16 standard) got off the mark first and has been chosen by a number of carriers to serve small communities. But its mobile version (802.16e) was shunned by major carriers in favour of LTE because of its clearer upgrade path from the GSM technology used by most leading cellular operators.

In the U.S., WiMax's biggest supporter's, Clearwire and Sprint-Nextel Corp., have signed they will eventually switch to LTE.

That has left WiMax operators in a fix, looking for equipment makers who have to face the inevitable: Eventually upgrading to LTE.

WiMax equipment makers, meanwhile, have faced struggling sales as service providers wonder whether they should invest in the technology. But in some parts of the world -- such as emerging countries with very little in the way of phone lines, WiMax makes sense. Which is why 80 per cent of Eion's sales have gone to countries outside North America, Kalaichelvan said.In Canada it counts only a few oil and gas companies as customers.

Few wireless carriers here have chosen WiMax. One is Barrett Xplore Inc. Another is Manitoba's NetSet Ltd., a co-operative of seven rural Internet service providers in that province.