Proxim plans to buck the standards
Non-standard WiMax, and no hurry for 802.11n
By Peter Judge, Techworld | Techworld | Published: 12:54, 01 September 2008
What are the big trends?
On a high level, there are probably two big trends that we see today. The first trend is in the emerging economies, for people to want better connectivity, In all of these economies, given the price of raw materials, people do not install copper and they do not install fibre, because they will be stolen, So people take our equipment and install it in a locked room, and do the same thing the other end, and there you have a wireless link. Wireless gives them security.
In those markets we end up selling our first two product segments - the wireless LAN piece and the WiMax piece - WiMax provides the backhaul and Wi-Fi provides the access.
The other trend we see, in the US and Western European countries, is around security and surveillance. An example is where we will put up video cameras to serve a particular site. Terrorism has been a big factor here.
For this trend, we tend to sell primarily the WiMax equipment because that services the backhaul - and then we'll either sell with wireless LAN equipment if someone wants to provide Internet access, or we'll provide mesh capability for law enforcement, or point-to-point equipment to provide a bigger pipe to carry the traffic back.
The point is, there is a trend towards sales that go across multiple segments. This is important to Proxim because we are a wireless pure-play that has more than just one single segment. So we didn't plan the trend, but the trend is coming to us. We have products across the three segments, wireless LANs, WiMax and point-to-point. Nobody else has the entire portfolio that is also a wireless pure-play. - our biggest competitor is Motorola.
What does this synergy allow you to do, that other people can't?
Wired networks are interoperable. Take a Cisco router and a 3Com switch, and they work together just fine. Wireless networks very quickly tend to single-vendor networks. You're not going to find many deployments that have WiMax Proxim on one end, and WiMax Motorola on the other. It could work in theory, but in practice, an all-Proxim network or an all-Motorola network will work better than a Proxim-Motorola network.
So service providers tend to go with a single vendor (and you also see this on the DSL side) - because there are so many things that can go wrong. So we have the opportunity to go in and provide the network management platform that will manage the APs, the WiMax and the point-to-point links, and they will all work together.
The other thread we see is that 802.11n will start a trend were enterprises will go to all-wireless. Today, the enterprise is probably the one stronghold for wired networks. Everything else is pretty much going wireless - especially outdoors. If enterprises go wireless, you are going to see a trend to networks that are wireless end-to-end. Access, backhaul and distribution are all wireless.
The first question most people ask is whether this all-wireless network will be a secure network. When I was at Aruba, our whole goal was to make sure that the network did not go through the four walls of the building. But in an all-wireless network, your goal is exactly the opposite. Instead of trying to limit how far the network goes, your are trying to make sure it goes as far out as possible.
If you want the network to be omnipresent, then security becomes a very critical network requirement. Security has been talked about a lot in the wireless LAN space, but not talked about so much in the point-to-point space. We have released a new product line called the HS (high security). It is an overlay to our existing product lines. The first one was a WiMax HS product: it's a FIPS 140 Level 2 product. Our goal is to go after banking and the medical industry - areas that will mandate FIPS 140 [FIPS 140 includes 256-bit encryption and other features].
Now that we have that for WiMax, we're going to take the concept and push high security into point-to-point and into the access points, so we'll have a parallel product line in all our segments.