After announcing its first customer last week, start-up 4G core vendor WiChorus today piled on a second. While smaller than Clearwire (NASDAQ:CLWR), Open Range Communications is one of the largest operators focusing strictly on rural developments, targeting 546 communities in 17 states.
A Silicon Valley start-up only three years old, WiChorus is the latest vendor to attack the wireless market focusing solely on the mobile data core. A cross-4G vendor, WiChorus has developed the gateway elements that make up the long-term evolution (LTE) evolved packet core, but it’s initial success so far has been in the WiMax market, producing the access service network (ASN) gateway that terminates all data sessions on the network. Though a host of major vendors are in the ASN space, from Motorola (NYSE:MOT) to Cisco Systems (NASDAQ:CSCO), WiChorus is giving them a significant challenge, establishing itself as specialty WiMax gateway vendor the same way Starent Networks (NASDAQ:STAR) has established itself in the 3G core.
Open Range certainly seems willing to favor the smaller supplierto the large Tier I vendor as well as embrace entirely new strategies for delivering rural broadband connectivity. One of the major recipients of Rural Utility Service loans, Open Range has partnered with Globalstar (NASDAQ:GSAT) to use its satellite spectrum to deliver WiMax services in population centers augmented by Globalstar’s satellite broadband network outside of those centers. Alvarion (NASDAQ:ALVR) is building the WiMax network itself, while backhaul-vendor-turned-outsourcer Harris Stratex (NASDAQ:HSTX) will take over its network management operations. Open Range has even persuaded transport provider Level 3 Communications(NASDAQ:LVLT) to attempt something it never has before: access its fiber networks in rural communities where there is no point of presence by tapping into its optical signal regeneration nodes.