As expectations for mobile WiMAX are downsized, the market for fixed and fixed/mobile WiMAX is getting a boost – and when US president Barack Obama’s stimulus kicks in, Canada stands to benefit. “For president Obama’s stimulus package, the first release of funding is to hire integrators,” says Dave Gelvin, president or Tranzeo USA, which is part of BC-headquartered Tranzeo Wireless Technologies Inc., a maker of WiMAX equipment for wireless internet service providers and industry. “This is to help define the rural areas that are underserved,” adds Gelvin. “There is (US)$7 billion for rural broadband in the US stimulus package, and the expectation is that it will be delivered by fixed WiMAX.” Despite Clearwire US LLC’s push for mobile WiMAX in the US, the technology will have its biggest impact providing fixed wireless broadband to undeveloped markets, including verticals with remote access requirements and smart metering for hydro companies. “Mobile WiMAX is a good technology but it might not win against LTE,” says Gelvin, “whereas last-mile fixed WiMAX is an excellent technology for rural areas and enterprises.” In May, Tranzeo inked two deals worth over $2 million supplying WiMAX subscriber units to California-headquartered Aperto Networks. It also announced it will begin shipping WiMAX subscriber units to Teknologi Riset Global (TRG) in Indonesia starting in June. “Another area with great promise is utilities and energy,” says Gelvin. “WiMAX could be backhaul from a remote site...or as the backbone for smart meter deployment.” In April, Redline Communications Group Inc. of Markham, ON, a provider of WiMAX and broadband wireless infrastructure products, and Ontario’s Hydro One, unveiled an agreement to trial Redline’s RedMAX 4C WiMAX solutions for smart meters. Redline is active in the rural, fixed WiMAX space, too: April saw the company announce that I-NetLink Wireless had chosen Redline’s RedMAX products for its WiMAX network roll-out across 150 communities in rural Manitoba. This supports what is expected to be one of the largest 3.5 GHz WiMAX networks in Canada. The opportunity is real: a new report by Juniper Research claims that 12% of global customers at the outer reaches of DSL will migrate to fixed WiMAX service by 2013. This drives backhaul demand – something that Ottawa-headquartered DragonWave Inc., which delivers carrier-grade microwave equipment, is finding out. “We see WiMAX as a good opportunity,” Alan Solheim, DragonWave’s VP of product management, tells Report on Wireless. “We deliver packet-based, high capacity radio systems, and have been selected by early LTE vendors, too, but at present the lion’s share is WiMAX.” Research from Taiwan-based Market Intelligence and Consulting (MIC) supports this. The company says demand for 802.16e WiMAX gear has been so strong in early 2009 that manufacturers have been caught off guard, leading to a shortage of components. “WiMAX development continues at a rapid pace,” confirms Robert Syputa, a US-based partner and senior analyst for Montreal-headquartered research firm Maravedis Inc. On the mobile side, Syputa says Clearwire in the US is putting pressure on competitors Verizon and AT&T to complete their 3G deployments this year, although at the end of the day the technologies will work together. “The radio technology is very similar between the two,” says Syputa. “This is software-defined. The same hardware will be able to support LTE and WiMAX.” But the big news is that WiMAX is giving the industry a taste of what the backhaul requirements for wireless broadband will be – a great opportunity for companies like DragonWave. “Clearwire can do one station with fibre optic, and then use DragonWave or others to send out a grid or mesh to multiple base stations from that one feeding station,” says Syputa. DragonWave’s backhaul solution could feasibly complement Tranzeo’s low-cost WiMAX CPEs (customer presence equipment), something with appeal for carriers trying to get into the fixed WiMAX enterprise and SOHO market. “A company like Aperto goes after large wireless carriers, but it could be a small WISP with only 100 subscribers, or state-wide or regional offering,” says Gelvin. Gelvin adds that the primary purpose for the 3.65 GHz spectrum is to provide wireless broadband in underserved areas. Vendors are just waiting on a green light for the US stimulus spending. And where is Canada? “Canada has licences in 3.5 GHz spectrum, and the Canadian government has announced opening 3.65 GHz, but has no commitment on timing,” says Syputa from Maravedis. “It could be a few months or a few years.” Meanwhile, in Canada most 2500 MHz licences expire in the year 2010, and most of the 3.5 GHz licences expire in 2014-2015.