Russia gives Canadian wireless backhaul gear a green light

It took almost a year, but a Canadian maker of wireless backhaul equipment for carriers and enterprise-sized organizations has had its products certified for use in Russia.

DragonWave Inc. of Ottawa said today its AirPair Wireless Ethernet point-to-point microwave radio products have been licensed and will go on sale through Cedicom, a local telecommunications integrator.

“We’re quite excited about getting this product through the regulatory barrier because it gives us the opportunity to sell into this significantly growing market,” said Alan Solheim, DragonWave’s vice-president of product management.

Buyers who will be targeted include carriers and energy companies with operations in remote areas. Oil and gas companies are spending a lot of money on infrastructure to connect their activities, Solheim said.

In November, 2006 DragonWave announced its partnership with privately-held Cedicom, but it has taken until now to get the AirPair line approved.

“Getting stuff approved for deployment in Russia is more of a challenge than in most markets,” said Solheim. “It’s a matter of knowing the right people and going through the right channel, and takes a fair bit of time.” In most Western countries the process is “fairly transparent,” he said, but in Russia – as with any bureaucracy, knowing whose desk something gets stuck on can facilitate progress.”

With Cedicom operating not only in Russia but also former Soviet counties such as Poland, Romania and Hungary, DragonWave products are now sold in some 50 countries. Among countries it isn’t in yet are India and China.

The company’s international push is reflected in DragonWave’s sales. According a report issued last week, its third quarter revenue of $11.5 million was almost evenly split between North America and the rest of the world. The company is still not yet profitable, although the loss last quarter, which ended Nov. 30, was $1.2 million, down from $2.5 million in the same period in 2006.

The AirPair delivers a wireless GigE/100bT connection of up to 500 Mbps full duplex over licensed or unlicensed frequency either indoors or outdoors.

Manufacturers making competing equipment include Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson and Nokia-Siemens, some of whom are already selling in Russia. But Solheim claims they are marketing TDM-centric gear, which is not suitable for the high-capacity Ethernet demands of a WiMax deployment AirPair handles.

Solheim said Cedicom was selected to be DragonWave’s channel partner in Russia after investigating several companies. While it hasn’t been given exclusivity, he said DragonWave won’t look for another partner at least until its justified by sales volumes.

In a news release, Cedicom chairman Sergey Portnoy said he foresees great interest from service providers in AirPair. “The combination of scalability, ultra-low latency and the ease and speed with which it can be deployed make AirPair ideal for the rapidly expanding Russian market,” he said.

Meanwhile, DragonWave is trying to get Russian authorities to certify its Horizon line of compact outdoor transceivers.

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