Cisco Takes Aim at WiMax

Clearwire Corp. and Cisco Systems Inc. last week announced an alliance aimed at expanding high-speed WiMax wireless services nationwide using Cisco products as the core network infrastructure.

The companies said that Clearwire is already testing and certifying an IP Next-Generation Network infrastructure based on Cisco 7600 routers and Cisco switches and firewalls.

Financial terms of the deal weren't revealed, but analysts noted that Cisco could earn millions of dollars by selling Clearwire its routers and optical networking gear for the WiMax network, which is slated to be rolled out in 80 U.S. cities by the end of 2010. The analysts did note that Cisco's revenue from the deal will largely depend how well WiMax technology catches on in the U.S.

The companies said that Cisco also plans to offer its Linksys routers for home and small-office settings. The routers would bring in a signal from outside via WiMax wireless transmission mode and broadcast it throughout the location via Wi-Fi mode.

Analysts noted that Cisco's entry into the WiMax business isn't surprising, in light of its decision to pay $330 million to buy Navini Networks Inc., a start-up developer of WiMax broadband wireless access systems, at the end of 2007.

"Cisco has been sitting on this opportunity for a while," noted independent analyst Jeff Kagan.

This version of this story originally appeared in Computerworld's print edition.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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