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Navini WiMAX Surprise Clarified

Navini Networks surprisingly abandoned plans last week to develop equipment based on the still-unratified 802.20 standard and switched its allegiance to another emerging standard, 802.16, also known as WiMAX. A likely reason for the switch emerged Thursday as the company announced an original equipment manufacturing (OEM) agreement to produce WiMAX equipment for French telecom giant Alcatel.

Navini is a relatively new company that had been competing with other new companies like Flarion Technologies in developing equipment for the still-unratified 802.20 wireless broadband standard. While the Texas-based company previously disparaged WiMAX, an emerging standard that also is unratified, it claimed last week that WiMAX was now the leading technology for creating wireless broadband that can span metropolitan areas.

In its statement Thursday, Alcatel said it would distribute Navini's base stations, element management systems, customer modems and PCMCIA cards. Navini already sells a equipment based on the ATIS standard, which is reportedly similar in functionality to future versions of 802.16.

The wireless broadband infrastructure industry is in its infancy, with standards and vendors jostling for position. Flarion Technologies has been involved in a high-visibility trial with U.S. wireless carrier Nextel.