Milton Keynes will be the first place to benefit from Pipex's plan to deliver WiMax in the UK, with a trial due to start in December, but commentators smell a sales ploy.
500 residents will get WiMax services between 2 Mbit/s and 10 Mbit/s in December, with a full roll-out six months after that, as part of a national WiMax service, provided by a joint venture announced in April and backed by $25 million Intel money. Cynics have asked if the idea is simply to increase the value of the national 3.6GHz licence that Pipex gained through acquisition.
"Since wireless broadband isn't really Pipex's main business it's likely they'll want to sell it, but gaining as much value for themselves in doing so," commented Steve Kennedy on the Euro Tech News blog. "Running a trial show's the spectrum has value."
Speculation has set a price of £5 million on Pipex's licence, or around £300 for the whole of Pipex including the licence.
Either way, the residents of Milton Keynes must be hoping that someone gives them WiMax service. The town was built at a time when copper was expensive, and BT reportedly wired the town with aluminium phone lines, making DSL broadband hard to come by there. According to the Milton Keynes Broadband Action Group, this won't be upgraded in BT's 21CN network.
The network will use base stations from Airspan Networks and a radio network on the roofs from Ericsson. .