Douglas Hill, senior vice president of communications at Malibu Networks, predicts this is the year wireless broadband that doesnt require line of sight will really take off.
"I think that basically were in a new era here," Hill says. "I think in 2001 youre going to see Malibu and other new companies put out a very fast signal that can get through the trees."
Malibus three new fixed wireless broadband systems, which will support the 2.5-gigahertz, 3.5-GHz and 5.8-GHz spectra, are scheduled to undergo trials in April, with a launch date set for late summer.
The technology uses an old military system, Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing, to ensure a signal gets through when theres no clear line of sight. Basically, OFDM chops a broadband signal into hundreds of smaller signals, making it easier to go around obstacles, then reassembles the signals when they reach the antenna. While OFDM has been around for years, the silicon it uses has been too expensive for the private sector until now, Hill says.
"A lot of people in fixed wireless who rolled out products before 2000 were pre-OFDM generation," he says.
Malibu plans to differentiate itself in the predicted OFDM market frenzy through a protocol analysis system that can decipher what type of data a user requires — be it voice, video or anything else — and automatically adjust to that need. The result, Hill says, is that a time slot will always be available for whatever the user might need.
"Weve got several thousand pages of patent applications dealing with protocol analysis," he says.
The price per customer unit for each of the fixed wireless systems is set at less than $500, Hill says. The systems will be marketed to wireless carriers and service providers both inside and outside the U.S., particularly in Europe and Asia.