Telecommunications equipment builder Marconi has been awarded the contract to install a fixed-wireless network covering Guangzhou and four of its suburbs. The system was commissioned by Guangzhou Broadband Backbone Network, which provides capacity to service providers, such as mobile networks and corporate end-users. With an initial order of 12 base stations and more than 100 remote terminals to be installed by March, the Guangzhou Broadband system would be the largest fixed-wireless network in China, said Kim Low, senior vice-president at Marconi Asia Pacific. The Guangzhou Broadband deployment would use the 10.5-gigahertz spectrum and connect to a US$3 million optical backbone that Marconi built for the network. Mr Low declined to comment on the value of the contract, although Marconi officials said the company's North Asian contracts announced this month were worth ?10 million (about HK$113.41 million). Guangzhou Broadband plans to use the network, based on dense wave division multiplexing technology, for delivering voice and data services using Internet protocol. Mr Low expected more systems to be installed on the mainland next year as the government was assigning fixed-wireless licences for 32 cities. Six companies had already qualified to build systems using the 3.5 GHz spectrum. One company is Beijing-based Taiji, which recently teamed up with New York-based TI Wave to develop 3.5 GHz systems for use in Beijing and other cities. Taiji is a systems integrator affiliated with the Ministry of Information Industry's North-China Computing Research Institute. Several other fixed-wireless trials and projects had been launched in China, Mr Low said, including one in Wuhan involving mainland telecoms equipment maker Datang. Marconi is in the process of bidding for some of the 3.5 GHz contracts, though Mr Low declined to give more details. Research firm Dell'Oro Group said the global market for fixed-wireless equipment was worth US$138 million in the third quarter, a 5 per cent increase from the previous quarter. Fixed-wireless systems had been installed in Hong Kong, Denmark, Mexico and the United States. Although the technology had been touted as a faster and cheaper alternative to optical fibre to connect users to telecoms backbones, the installations had met with varying degrees of commercial success. In the US, where several firms moved aggressively into the fixed-wireless market last year, Teligent and Winstar had struggled, while Sprint delayed installing equipment despite being the holder of the largest number of licences. In Hong Kong, where six licences were granted in 1999, only two firms - City Telecom's Hong Kong Broadband unit and Winstar Hong Kong - were still operating fixed-wireless networks.