NewNet banking on WiMAX resurgence

NewNet Communications Technologies is bullish about the WiMAX business that it acquired earlier this year from Nokia Siemens Networks and appears committed to making a stand for the technology, whose message has been drowned out in recent years by the huzzah around LTE.

NewNet, a 20-year-old company that has had numerous white-label technology businesses, in February bought the WiMAX business of Nokia Siemens Networks, which had previously acquired the unit from Motorola (NYSE:MSI). NewNet picked up the division's infrastructure--including access points, baseband control units, access services network (ASN) gateways and core portfolio--as well as CPE devices. The division arrived at NewNet with some 40 existing customers across 27 countries.

"WiMAX is a technology that we really believe in, and more and more I think people are starting to come across to our point of view," Scott Morrison, president of NewNet's broadband wireless unit, told FierceBroadbandWireless.  

NewNet has embraced its role as a bought-in leader in the WiMAX industry. "NewNet joined the WiMAX Forum as a board member because we believe that the industry needs a very solid representative body that's going to push the message for WiMAX but also needs to represent both the end users of the technology as well as the vendors," said Morrison.

"I think you'll see some changes coming from the WiMAX Forum in the  reasonably near future, and I think you'll see the WiMAX ecosystem starting to stand up for itself," he added.

"A month ago, nobody said a good word about WiMAX," said Morrison. But that has changed thanks to recent developments such as Sprint Nextel's (NYSE:S) announcement that its prepaid brands Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile USA will begin offering WiMAX service this month through its partnership with Clearwire (NASDAQ:CLWR).

NewNet is targeting operators and service providers, small and medium enterprises, wireless ISPs, smart grid applications and other vertical niches. "I think WiMAX has a really strong play in those verticals, and we're already in a number of them," said Morrison, adding the company intends to expand deeper into niches such as utilities.

WiMAX even has a budding role to play in wireless backhaul for LTE small cells, according to Morrison.

He said WiMAX also still has strong positioning in consumer wireless broadband, particularly for a nomadic/semi-nomadic user base, while rival technology LTE is more suited for highly mobile and roaming users, "which is very much the GSM base." Though LTE will also be used in nomadic/semi-nomadic use cases, "LTE is very quickly going to have huge capacity problems," and issues with fragmented spectrum bands worldwide," said Morrison.

"WiMAX's bands are well known. They're well established. They're very well liked," he said.

Morrison contends that NewNet--because it is a relatively small company compared to NSN and Motorola--can offer targeted, rapid WiMAX deployments for its customers. NewNet is even offering to help its WiMAX customers evolve to LTE if they desire.

Though NewNet says its WiMAX access points are easily upgradeable to WiMAX2, also called 802.16m, the company is not focused on that evolution. Morrison said NewNet's customer base is unconvinced WiMAX2 will deliver a large enough benefit to justify additional investment. "What we're doing is on a customer-by-customer basis working out what parts of wave two are interesting if indeed they don't need all of it," he said.

The company also expects to eventually dovetail WiMAX with TraxcomSecure, its electronic transaction processing business. One-fifth of the world's electronic transactions are being carried through the TraxcomSecure platform, said Morrison.

Connecticut-based NewNet is a wholly owned portfolio company of private equity firm Skyview Capital, headquartered in Los Angeles.

For more:
- see this RCR Wireless article

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