Ride The Tsunami: Proxim Re-Enters Licensed Backhaul Space

Proxim Wireless this week introduced the Tsunami GX800, a wireless backhaul product capable of delivering 622 Mbps of aggregate capacity. The new product effectively thrusts Proxim back into the market for licensed spectrum offerings.

"Today is all about the overall capacity crunch we're seeing in networks," said Robb Henshaw, vice president of marketing at Proxim, to CRN. "Our favorite pastime is to complain about how crappy mobile networks are, right? There's obviously a huge capacity need among mobile and wireless operators and service providers."

Proxim had a history with licensed backhaul back in the 1980s but effectively exited the market in the mid-90s to focus on the unlicensed side. Tsunami marks its return.

"So many wireless partners throughout the world sell our complete end-to-end wireless portfolio, and there are times when they need licensed wireless backhaul. At least 50 [percent] to 60 percent of VARs are selling licensed backhaul," Henshaw said. "So what this does is it rounds out our portfolio for wireless VARs and integrators. This is the final piece."

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The Tsunami GX800, which will begin to ship in November, is designed for Long Term Evolution (LTE) and WiMax environments. The configuration includes a frequency-independent modem, an additional 10/100 Ethernet port, a USB port, a Gigabit IP interface and other features, including ample Layer 3 protocol support. Further, the GX800 can support from 6GHz to 38GHz frequencies.

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One key differentiator for Proxim is the ability to offer aggregate capacity of 622 Mbps out of the box (311 Mbps each way), Henshaw said.

"Some of our competitors advertise their licensed point-to-point products as having 450 or 500 Mbps, but when you pull it out of the box it starts out with access only to 100 Mbps, and to get that advertised capacity, you have to do license upgrades," he said. "Sure, the radio is capable of 450 or 500, but you have to pay them again each time you want to bump it up. Not having to unlock more capacity makes us really attractive to people."

The mobile backhaul market continues to heat up. Other recent moves in the space include Alcatel-Lucent's introduction of its 7705 Service Aggregation Route, and the $9.5 million acquisition of Axerra Networks by DragonWave.

In a study released earlier this month, Infonetics Research estimated Ethernet-based mobile backhaul equipment sales reaching $8.2 billion in four years, following last year's year-over-year market growth of 36 percent. The overall spend on mobile backhaul by service providers is expected to be a cumulative $36 billion between 2010 and 2014, according to Infonetics.

"We expect Ethernet spending to spike again in 2010 and growth to continue for many years, fueled by the ongoing HSPA/HSPA+ onslaught across the 3GPP world and early LTE deployments led by 3GPP2 players," said Michael Howard, principal analyst and co-founder, in a statement.

Alcatel-Lucent holds the No.1 market share in the space, according to the researcher.