Wi-LAN Inc., the Calgary, Alberta-based vendor of fixed wireless broadband services, has tapped media gateway maker Quintum Technologies Inc. as its integration partner for its voice-over-IP services.

Under the agreement, Quintum will provide its Tenor media gateway, which will work with any of several fixed wireless radios provided by Wi-LAN. The Quintum products will be installed at customer sites so that they can convert telephone communications to IP before being transmitted.

Quintum offers the Tenor media gateway in both analog and digital forms. The analog version can deliver between eight and 24 analog (or POTS) connections with a PBX or other source of phone traffic to an IP network. The digital version can handle up to four T1 lines. Both then send IP traffic over an Ethernet link to the Wi-LAN radios, which transmit it to a central hub. At that point, the voice traffic can be converted back to analog using another Tenor, or it can be left in IP form and sent to another VOIP carrier.

According to Quintum vice president Chuck Rutledge, the wireless VOIP is completely transparent to phone users. And because a company can simply plug its existing phone system into the Quintum, a move to VOIP can be made without major upgrades.

He said wireline users have been doing this for years, but that this was a first for wireless. “We saw the opportunity to offer voice over IP over wireless infrastructure,” he said. “We’ve done complete interoperability testing,” he added.

“We’ve been selling wireless solutions primarily for data access for 12 years,” said John Seliga, vice president of marketing for Wi-LAN. “VOIP is a compelling application that users understand and recognize,” he said.

Wi-LAN offers data and now voice services in areas where wired access is difficult or impossible. Those areas may be places that are either very rural, making wired access prohibitively expensive, or areas where the capability doesn’t exist at all.

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“This provides value in terms of the reach,” Seliga said. “We can go a long way where copper doesn’t exist.” One area being targeted for the Quintum voice solution is in severely underdeveloped areas such as some parts of Africa.

Seliga said that the Wi-LAN products can provide fixed wireless bandwidth as high as 48 M bps in the carrier version for a single segment. Up to six segments can be grouped for throughput as high as 244 M bps. Industrial versions can handle bandwidths between 11 and 32 M bps. Seliga said that in addition to handling voice, this solution will let users layer voice, data and video on the same link.

Wi-LAN’s radios can work on the 2.4, 3.5, 5.4 and 5.8GHz bands. Which one users choose depends on local conditions, licensing requirements and interference potential. Seliga indicated that 5.8GHz is the most commonly used frequency band for Wi-LAN products.

Seliga said that the two companies worked together to make the integration work so that when the wireless VOIP solutions are sent to customers, they only need to be installed to work.

“It’s the multipath architecture that’s the big win,” Rutledge said. “It eliminates hassle and eases customer acceptance,” he said, “and customers don’t have to reconfigure their networks.”

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