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Deutsche Telekom nixes WiMAX

German telecoms powerhouse Deutsche Telekom (DT) has again declined to bid for any of the 3.5GHz spectrum being auctioned by the German Federal Networks Agency (BNetzA). This despite the BNetzA’s enthusiasm for the technology and considerable commercial interest – more than 100 competitors have already applied.

DT would argue that the decision should not come as a surprise as it has not changed its position since the auction was announced months ago. And it has every reason to refuse. The fixed-line business has committed itself to an extensive fibre-to-the-home deployment in Germany and is putting up a tough lobbying campaign against German and European regulators who want DT to permit competitors to have access.

T-Mobile is progressively rolling out HSDPA and will in due course roll out HSPA but even if the company does feel the need for alternative wireless broadband technologies, WiMAX is unlikely to be the one it selects. There is already a T-Mobile-owned FLASH-OFDM network in Slovakia and senior T-Mobile executives told us they consider the ex-Flarion Technologies system “optimal for 450MHz”.

Next door, in the Czech Republic, T-Mobile has a UMTS-TDD network operating in the IMT-2000 assigned band for TDD.

The decision between the two was made on spectrum grounds and T-Mobile owns extensive TDD spectrum with its UMTS holdings in Germany. So, what with other options already on hand, no shortage of spectrum and heavy investment going in to wireline extreme broadband deployment, there was never going to be much interest from Telekom.

Consider it the anti-Sprint Nextel. Even in its Central and Eastern European operations, 450MHz digitisation is evidently its preferred strategy for leapfrogging deficient fixed-line infrastructure. Where 450 isn’t available, extensions to its UMTS activities will be chosen.

Patchy WiMAX deployments have, however, begun spreading in these parts. A major wireless-ISP roll-out is underway in Estonia, with another planned in Latvia. Parts of Austria, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary are served by 802.16d fixed/nomadic networks, and 802.16d service is available in London, Bristol and parts of North Yorkshire.


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