BT Italia expands WiMAX network

The Italian operator NGI, part of the BT Italia Group, has contracted Alvarion to expand its existing WiMAX network. The new equipment will provide coverage for around 100,000 square kilometers where ADSL services are not available in Italy.

The company, which uses the licence-exempt 5.4 GHz band, said that it planned to use Alvarion's BreezeMAX Extreme equipment having already used the technology to provide high-speed data services in challenging environments.

Commenting on the deal, Luca Spada, CEO of NGI, said that Alvarion's equipment provided them with the flexibility to increase the network capacity and also allowed them to add more subscribers per sector with improved quality.

This move came as the Indonesian government said it planned to replace the existing WiMAX network with LTE, while U.S.-based Clearwire has only given a commitment to continue with WiMAX until 2012. The company has also modified an agreement with its partner Intel that would let either firm walk away from their agreement with only 30 days notice.

However, while the future of WiMAX seems increasingly hazy, the Irish operator Imagine Communications said that its WiMAX network should be commercially available within the next 12 months.

Imagine's commercial director, Brian O'Donohoe, said that Ireland's over-reliance on the outmoded and over-exploited 3G network was holding the country back in relation to its European neighbours.

"The new 4G WiMAX network is faster and more reliable than 3G, has no expensive line rental charges like DSL and is available at half the cost of older technology providers like Eircom," concluded O'Donohoe.

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