The Friday Interview: Neil Parkinson, Irish Broadband

15 Dec 2006

This week’s interviewee is Neil Parkinson (pictured), chief executive of Irish Broadband.

WiMax is being touted as a wide area version of Wi-Fi. Will it live up to this promise?
There will be two forms of WiMax on the market: fixed and mobile. We are focusing on the mobile side of it and have been working with Intel to bring it to Ireland.

What shape will the first form of WiMax take?
We’ll be looking at offering portable WiMax in a number of forms whether it’s a PCMCIA card in your computer or on a handheld device.

On the mobile WiMax front, will it be used just for internet surfing?
No. The ongoing development of the technology will see WiMax appear in digital cameras, phones and iPod devices.

If you’re talking about voice over mobile WiMax, will this see you eventually square up to mobile operators?
Certainly. We recently launhed our Irish Broadband Talk service that is based on wireless voice over internet protocol (VoIP). We are currently testing a Siemens phone for VoIP wireless and Samsung has developed a dual GSM- and WiMax-enabled mobile phone. When these products come on to the market, we will be ready to build services around mobile products.

What are your product plans around WiMax?
Our aim is to have our first WiMax service available before Christmas. The service will operate off our Ripwave network card starting at 500Kbps but moving up to 1.2Mbps wirelessly once you download a software upgrade.

Mobile operators will be bringing out their own broadband services based on 3G. Will competition be intense?
I expect so, but ultimately all of these technologies — Wi-Fi, WiMax and 3G — are going to be complementary and people on the move will be able to move seamlessly between networks.

How do fixed and mobile WiMax networks differ?
Fixed WiMax would cover a different footprint or area than mobile WiMax. Because it’s focusing on portable devices, mobile WiMax will have to cover a wider area. In two years, Intel’s next Centrino chip will have WiMax on it. In the meantime the network we are building will be upgradeable to WiMax.

By John Kennedy

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