A Canadian project started by the federal government to provide rural communities from sea to sea with wireless high-speed Internet access has evolved into a joint venture geared toward deploying the technology internationally in countries such as India.

The Communications Research Centre Canada (CRC), whose Microwave-Light Organized Network (MILTON) project is designed to provide residential homes and businesses with broadband wireless Internet service, has teamed up with WiMax silicon chip provider Wavesat and the Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DOT), which is the Government of India’s telecom technology development centre, to build a cost-effective fixed wireless access solution.

The project, said the three principal parties, will be based on the IEEE 802.16-2004 standard, making it conducive to long-reach broadband communication products. While the participants recently announced they will be combining the technologies of CRC’s MILTON project and Wavesat’s WiMax silicon chips to provide a platform for New Delhi, India, they indicated the results of the partnership can easily be applied worldwide, whether in rural or urban settings.

According to Gerry Chan, vice-president of terrestrial wireless systems research at CRC, C-DOT contacted the government agency after it had found out that several MILTON project trials were already underway in Canada. Faced with a large rural population, India was interested in deploying wireless Internet in these areas, he continued. CRC and C-DOT soon signed two agreements. The first one, a memorandum of understanding, involved collaborating with the MILTON technology. The second one involved jointly conducting several trials in India.

“Toward the end of this month, we should have this trial set up in New Delhi, and then they can do the testing and so on,” said Chan. “At the same time, we are working on a third agreement and that is a research agreement with C-DOT to use Wavesat’s…WiMax chips to move into the next generation of MILTON. So that’s where we stand right now, and Wavesat is very enthusiastic about that because we’re using their chip and their technology.”

While Wavesat’s vice-president of sales and marketing said his company has already dealt with companies in Canada, the United States, China, Singapore, Greece, Slovenia and Russia, and is pleased to add India to the list.

“Over the last six months, we’ve been working with C-DOT,” said Draper, whose company is based in Montreal. “They’ve bought our reference kit, which really is 90 per cent of the way in developing the system for WiMax…In this particular context, it is for India. But really any of the development that we do could just as easily apply to rural Canada. In fact, the MILTON project was developed for that reason.”

Ronald Gruia, program leader for enterprise solutions at Frost & Sullivan in Toronto, said the collaboration could speed the wireless technology’s adoption.

“This is really where the value proposition of WiMax is so important, especially when you take that and extend that to emerging markets,” he said. “Emerging markets really could be the ones where WiMax will take hold because a lot of these countries they don’t want to really just go through all the steps that we went through necessarily over here. They just want to take that big quantum leap.”

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