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AT&T, Covad Take Wires Out of VoIP

VoIP over WiMAX is attractive for both enterprises and carriers, but challenges remain. First, no WiMAX-certified equipment has yet been released--though some shipments are expected in 2005, just in time for AT&T and Covad's plans. Second, the initial WiMAX equipment will be certified in the 2.5- and 3.5-GHz spectrum ranges. The 2.5-GHz spectrum is owned largely by Sprint and Nextel, while the 3.5-GHz spectrum is not available for use in the United States. This means that any near-term WiMAX equipment deployment will likely use unlicensed spectrum, which carries the risk of interference from other wireless devices.

Organizations seeking a quick way to provide connectivity to branch offices should consider using high-speed wireless, even if it's pre-WiMAX. AT&T and Covad's announcement should help confirm that wireless VoIP can be made reliable and cost-effective.