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Where WiMAX meets Femto

07 июля 2008

Upon hearing this past May that Google was among the new, new Clearwire's investors, I couldn't help but be reminded of a conversation I had two years ago in a bar in Bath, UK.

For those who have never been, Bath, Bristol, Swindon and the surrounding areas of Southwestern UK are known to many in the wireless industry as Femtocell Country. The region is home to femto luminaries like picoChip and Ubiquisys as well as myriad telecommunications academics who foster startups in the area. Heavy-hitter Motorola has a test center there as well.

In the fall of
2006 a couple of executives from picoChip shared a round of real ales with me at the Raven pub and played it coy. Why had Google just participated in a $25 million round of funding for their partner and femtocell integrator Ubiquisys? The move seemed random and not at all in keeping with Google's core business. The picoChip executives wouldn't share any insights, wouldn't budge an inch. It was clear, though, that they had a better sense of Google's future plans than I had.

The next day I met with Ubiquisys CEO Chris Gilbert who only smiled when I asked about the Google investment. He then explained how femtocells could be used to build out an advanced wireless broadband network, perhaps using a technology like WiMAX.

While the specter of a winning bid from Google in the 700 MHz auction a year later served as an excitable hiccup for those soothsayers trying to figure out Google's plans, the excitement was short-lived. In the aftermath of the auction's results, however, the company managed to surprise a few industry insiders by joining the new, new Clearwire as a $500 million investor in its WiMAX business. And then it clicked.

Comcast may have slipped this past week and let the femtocell cat out of the WiMAX bag, but I bet you a beer in Bath that Google also played a part by coaxing the new, new Clearwire to take a trip to Femtocell Country. 

By Brian Dolan

Источник: WiMAX Trends

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