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5.8GHz WiMAX chip ships

Fujitsu has shipped its first WiMAX baseband system-on-a-chip for the 5.8GHz unlicensed band, the company announced on Wednesday.

The first customers are Orza Networks and Sun Create Electronics, both of which intend to use it with a Texas Instruments RF stack in fixed (IEEE802.16d) WiMAX customer premise equipment.

High hopes for WiMAX in unlicensed spectrum were all the rage two years ago, but products have been slow to make an appearance. There are also significant technical problems – unlike wireless LAN, WiMAX does not operate a collision detection procedure to deal with interfering networks, being designed to work in allocated spectrum. Furthermore, 5.8GHz is hardly ideal in terms of coverage or wall penetration.

It now seems that 5.8GHz WiMAX’s role in life will be to provide internet service to low density rural areas on the cheap. Fujitsu recognised this in the announcement, expressing the hope that “underserved markets in North and South America” would benefit.

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