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Fujitsu Readies WiMax Chip

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LR Mobile News Analysis
Light Reading
8/24/2004

Fujitsu Ltd. (OTC: FJTSY; Tokyo: 6702) is gearing up for battle with Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) over the launch of its own WiMax silicon in the first half of next year.

The company’s U.S. chip division -- Fujitsu Microelectronics America Inc. -- today outlined plans to launch a single-chip WiMax product in “early 2005,” incorporating both PHY and MAC functionality (see Fujitsu Talks Up WiMax).

“Early implementations will begin in base station configurations designed for single standalone units, as well as for much more complex rack-mounted systems and blade servers that work alongside wireline network systems,” notes Fujitsu in a statement.

The move will put Fujitsu in direct competition with Intel, which has already announced plans to start shipping WiMax chipsets by the end of this year (see Intel's Got WiMax Headroom and Intel's WiMax Drive).

Fujitsu claims to be “working closely with leading equipment and infrastructure vendors” on its single-chip product, but a company spokeswoman declined to reveal names. To date, Fujitsu has publicly announced only a partnership with Canadian broadband wireless access vendor Wi-LAN Inc. (Toronto: WIN). (See Fujitsu, Wi-LAN Team Up.)

In contrast, Intel has signed deals with the likes of Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA), Alvarion Ltd. (Nasdaq: ALVR), Proxim Corp. (Nasdaq: PROX), Redline Communications Inc. and Siemens AG (NYSE: SI; Frankfurt: SIE) in an effort to ensure its silicon becomes the standard choice for future WiMax equipment (see WiMax Gets Serious, Intel, Alvarion Develop 802.16, and Proxim & Intel: MANly Friends).

“Intel has driven WiMax with its marketing, its chip development, and its partnerships, and anyone trying to break into this position will clearly have some work ahead of them,” notes Current Analysis’s Peter Jarich. “But if the market grows to the size some pundits are predicting, there should be enough room for competition. At the same time, Fujitsu's entrance is good for WiMax, since, from a supply perspective, anyone should be worried about a market with only one major chipmaker.”

Based on the technical specifications developed by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE) wireless MAN 802.16 Task Group, WiMax is an emerging technology that aims to deliver last-mile broadband connectivity in a larger geographic area than wireless LAN hotspots.

In June, the IEEE ratified 802.16d, intended for fixed wireless applications (see WiMax Spec Ratified). To meet the needs of mobile users, a further extension -- 802.16e -- is under development and is touted for ratification in the third quarter of 2005.

— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung


For more on this booming market, check out the recent Unstrung Webinar: WiMax Metropolitan Area Wireless Networking Technology.

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