The UK's largest fixed wireless access (FWA) provider, is moving its network to WiMax, and the EC has announced a decision that should increase the availability of WiMax spectrum in Europe.
On-Communications, which offers fixed wireless services designed to compete with business-quality leased lines, already operates in London, Sheffield, Manchester, Leeds and Oxford, and will be using equipment from Airspan for a major rollout of "hundreds" of WiMax base stations. New installations will use Airspan's MicroMax products, and the existing networks will be moved to WiMax more gradually, the company said.
Meanwhile, the European Commission has announced regulations which should ensure that other European regulators will follow the lead of the UK regulator, Ofcom, and allow WiMax access to the 2.6GHz band, once earmarked for 3G cellular technologies.
The European Commission's Radio Spectrum Committee has ruled that the market should decide which technology to use in the band. It also gives local regulators the power to decide how much of the spectrum should be allocated to paired (FDD) spectrum traditionally used by 3G technologies, and unpaired (TDD) spectrum, which has been used by WiMax, (although an FDD version of WiMax is under development).
Despite this, the chief executive of On-Communications, Ian Roberts, says he won't be bidding for any UK spectrum. As fixed links don't have to provide coverage of an area, they can can be provided in the light-licensed 5.8GHz spectrum or unlicensed 5.4GHz spectrum.
On-Communications services can be a primary connection or a backup for a company's leased line - similar to those offered in London by Urban Wimax - the company has no plans for mobile WiMax or the consumer services that Freedom4 is planning to deliver.