Optical/IP Networks

Intel's London MAN Plans

Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) has given its WiMax bandwagon further fuel by revealing that it aims to eventually roll out broadband wireless services in the centre of London as part of an industry initiative.

The vendor shared its plans at the launch of today’s "Wireless City" project -- a joint partnership with Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and Westminster City Council that involves the rollout of a public 802.11b (11-Mbit/s over 2.4GHz) network within the London district (see Westminster Goes Wireless).

The group is in the process of extending a small trial project in the Soho area of central London that provides limited hotspot coverage to the public and links closed circuit cameras to a central network to enable local security monitoring.

Intel is eager to add to the 802.11b wireless LAN services on offer, planning to incorporate faster technologies such as WiMax metropolitan area networks over time.

“Westminster City Council will be one of the first users of this technology anywhere in the world,” claims the vendor’s director of IT Innovation, Martin Curley. “It is our plan to cover large metro areas with WiMax technology. We want to unlock the last mile without the need for fiber.”

Curley declined to specify a timescale for such rollout.

Intel’s enthusiasm for the technology is hardly surprising, in light of plans to launch its own WiMax chips “by the second half of this year.” (See Intel's Got WiMax Headroom and Intel's WiMax Drive.)

These chips, based on the 802.16a (revision d or e) standard, will be used in wireless metropolitan area network (MAN) base stations to initially provide high-speed fixed wireless data services at distances of up to 30 miles or so. WiMax is being touted as a cheaper way to provide backhaul for 802.11 wireless LAN access points, which normally have to be wired up to an Ethernet or cable network to provide connectivity (see Working for the MAN).

— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung

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