Western Multiplex has acquired Adaptive Broadband for $US645 million in stock.
According to Western Multiplex executives, the merger will allow for quicker development of integrated wireless access products that are capable of both point-to-point and point-to-multipoint wireless data transmission - features that are important to enterprises and wireless services providers. The deal between the two US-based companies is expected to close in the first quarter of 2001. Western Multiplex competitors include Lucent Technologies and Nortel Networks.
Western Multiplex sells fixed, point-to-point wireless broadband products, including the Tsunami line of Gigabit Ethernet bridges, to enterprises and service providers - distributed in Australia by the likes of Integrity Data Systems. Adaptive Broadband's products include the AB-Access platform, a 25Mbps LMDS transceiver used by service providers for sending high-speed wireless signals to subscribers. Its chief competition comes from Alcatel and Motorola.
According to market research firm IDC, the US market for wireless broadband services for midsize and large enterprises (companies with up to 500 employees and businesses with over 500 employees) is expected to reach $US528 million this year, up 57 per cent from $227 million in 1999. IDC predicts this market will increase more than five times over next three years, reaching $2.6 billion by 2003.
The idea of using a high-speed wireless connection instead of leased lines is catching on with some users.
"We're thinking about building a broadband WAN so we don't have to buy high-capacity links from the telcos, which can take up to six months to build out," says Will Melick, a network engineer with Industrial Light and Magic (ILM). Melick says he is considering wireless WAN products from Western Multiplex and several other wireless broadband vendors.
His firm, which is owned by Star Wars creator George Lucas, creates computer-based special effects and graphics for the movie industry. With computer animation files as big as 240MBs regularly travelling around his network, Melick says the widely available 802.11b wireless technologies are not up to the task of transferring files between ILM's many studios.
"Computer graphics are very I/O intensive, and we're constantly moving these huge data files back and forth from workstations to servers," Melick says. At 11Mbps, "the 802.11b stuff is too slow for our needs."