Steve, excellent points. except... (also see inline)

By your definition of Carrier grade, I could argue that many WISPs that just so happen not to use Alvarion, may very well better meet the definition of carrier grade than the carriers themselves. One of the negatives about the Alvarion product is that they have fallen victom to the IBM syndrom. They try and be the best and standardize on that, but then they lock them selves into a box with a limited product, and get left behind as far as features and product enhancements. IBM lost the war to Clones, because Clones were able to innovate faster and deliver more competitive products sooner. Alvarion, has tried to full fill the role of carrier grade, probably better than any other manufacturer, from the perspective of the support level carrier demand, and quality of the manufacturing of the product. But ultimately, where does Alvarion stand technology wise? Are they leading? Thats debatable.

For example: Alvarion still....
1. Single Freq range per radio unit.
2. Single polarity per radio unit.

Limitations even the cheapest manufacturers have overcome. Many businesses operational savings are being had by WISPs chosing other third party wireless gear, allowing their operations to be more carrier class. (less stock, fewer components needed per truck, easier ordering, lower pricing, consistent OS interfaces, etc).

I'm not just targeting Alvarion in my complaint. How many manufactturers have taken advantage os new smart antenna technologies or FCC rules for higher power or new freq ranges?

For companies like Alvarion to stay on top as a leading Carrier grade company, they are going to have to break out of the IBM mold, and start innovating quicker. They are starting to do that, by comming out with Wimax and 4.9Ghz gear quicker than other competitors in the space.

Here's my working definition of "carrier grade":

Designed for use by carriers
Suitable for use by carriers
Sufficiently reliable for use by carriers

There is MUCH that goes into a product designed for use by carriers. It's expensive and a tough market, so a lot of vendors don't try. Here are just a few features that are "carrier grade requirements" from my perspective:

* Designed for use in all conceivable weather elements

WISPs pass. (Alvarion not required to do so)

* Designed for long operational use with minimal attention (in the WISP market, one measure is that it doesn't reboot itself, or require regular reboots)

WISPs fail. 1 minute outages every month or so must be tolerated.
Even Alvarion is known for occasional auto system reboots when harsh interence is encountered.

* Designed for easy and fast repair

WISPs pass and shine. But not aware of any Carrier Telco that passes that requirement. Less likely with Alvarion, as more models need to be stocked, to ahve all conceivable replacement models.

* The vendor stocks ample replacement units deployed geographically for fast supply.

WISPs pass. Telco's generally Fail. Not many Companies keep $100,000 switches on hand for quick replacement.

* Support expertise by the vendor is readily available (excellent, easy-to-access tech support). Note that such support is almost never free, and carriers don't expect it to be. When they need help, they need it NOW and need to get their systems back online fast. (Carriers often have mandated time-to-repair maximums by regulatory agencies.)

Yes. But not aware of many Telcos that have a faster response time in their Tarrifs, than good local WISPs.

* Subtle features like strain relief on all connectors, meeting the telecom industry requirements for rack mounting, built-in protection for power line surges and lightning.

WISPs put in a valient effort, but fail or barely pass.
Telcos pass and shine, throwing millions of dollars away in over engineering. So although they shine, its responsible for the bankruptcy of 25 of the largest 29 Telcos through year 2001.

* Superb monitoring and remote control capabilities

WISPs pass. However, where Telcos shine, is 100s of commercial product are available to collect and store and track the statistics to backup SLA guarantees. WISPs can offer and fullfil the same SLAs maybe even better, but can they prove it?

* Offer continuous VERY-in-depth training programs at the factory so that carriers can get their personnel FULLY up to speed on a product. Again, this almost never free, and carriers don't expect it to be.

Every WISPs product manufacturer offers this. The only reason all WISPs may not have it, is their decission not to pay for it, as they don't have a huge staff to justify it, when they know it already.

* Offer continuous product improvement, bug fixes, recalls when appropriate, and does so proactively when an issue is identified, and does so in a way to minimize downtime such as offering proactive replacement units.

Telcos pass. Most WISP networks do not. Open Source, provides more options for improvements and impowers the WISP, but no guarantees are there that it will continue to be given or at what success rate.

Tom DeReggi
RapidDSL & Wireless, Inc


Regarding "Alvarion versus WISPs"... it's pretty simple. By offering "more like carrier-grade" products, Alvarion saw FAR more market demand by carriers, public safety, enterprise than they saw in the WISP market. They are willing to sell to WISPs, but few WISPs are willing to take the time to truly understand Alvarion's value proposition which involves FAR more than mere price of the product. You've finally come around to this view John, and you'll discover that you have a lot of company in that view - which isn't (widely) represented on this list or necessarily within WISPA. That's because operators who have spent the money for quality gear like Alvarion's generally don't have NEARLY as many issues with such gear that require "group support"... and such operators don't wish to associate their businesses with the "we'll just hack up a Linksys AP and have cheap gear" attitude that a lot of people in the telecom industry equate with WISPs.

Is Alvarion arrogant? Yes, at times, and certain individuals. But I think that's mostly a lot of pride and recognition that they were one of the pioneering companies in making it possible to offer carrier-grade services in license-exempt spectrum - something that the telecom industry KNEW could NOT be done. It's also the case that Alvarion offers the broadest product line in Broadband Wireless Internet Access - licensed and license-exempt, fixed and mobile, high-capacity and low-capacity, etc. Alvarion has very capable competitors in various segments, but I can't think of any company that competes head-to-head with Alvarion in all segments, even Airspan.



Budget being only difference, and WISP qualify for carrier better than ILEC in some cases.

On Apr 11, 2006, at 20:51, John Scrivner wrote:

I decided to do some reading on the term "carrier-grade" and have found the following to be what is considered a definition in relation to our industry. One random source on the web refers to this as, "A term that implies a system that is designed to have increased availability and timeliness to meet the requirements of a modern communications network element." I saw this quantified on one site as being, a network device which has a sustained uptime of over 99.999%. This was as close to a quantifiable definition as I have found though it gives no length of time or other parameters to use for calculation of this percentage. According to Hughes Software Systems in regard to "Carrier-grade" they state that equipment can only be considered "Carrier-grade" after several years of real field use shows that it is highly available and reliable. In the end it is a very subjective term and one I will not use in the future unless I can quantify the classification. Basically there is no firm definition but I have heard of Alvarion referred to as "Carrier-grade" by others and mistakingly assumed it was a clearly defined characteristic. My apologies for this error in wording.

With that said I still think Alvarion is a far better platform than Canopy which is strictly my opinion and has no basis in fact. In the past I have been put-off by a perceived arrogance I have seen by some Alvarion representatives who have insisted previously that they had the "only" viable solution for wireless broadband and seemed as though they were claiming almost a "holier than thou" behavior toward anyone stating another opinion than their own. I have also seen a terribly biased negative attitude toward Alvarion by many WISPs who wanted to drive home the "WISP=Cheap" mentality to the point of alienating Alvarion from our entire market segment. Both Alvarion and most WISPs have lost a great ally in each other and I suspect both sides have suffered from such negativity. I am hoping to see this division closed between the typical WISP operator and Alvarion.


Steve Stroh
425-939-0076 | [EMAIL PROTECTED] |

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