Intel's Got WiMax Headroom

Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) has been busy talking up the potential of "WiMax" technology, naming seven carriers worldwide it claims are looking to test kit based on the 802.16 wireless metropolitan area networking (MAN) standard.

Top of Intel’s list of interested parties is crusty European incumbent BT Group British Telecommunications plc (BT) (NYSE: BTY; London: BTA), which, according to a statement, is “assessing WiMax technology for trials and implementation.”

BT itself remains less forthcoming. In fact, a call to its press office was greeted with a response of “What’s WiMax?” on three separate occasions [ed. note: how reassuring].

Other suspects identified by Intel include Hong Kong’s PCCW Ltd. (NYSE: PCW; Hong Kong: 0008), Reliance Infocomm Ltd. (in India), Iberbanda (Spain), MVS Net (Mexico), Neotec (Brazil), and UK Broadband.

“We have been in discussions with all the major carriers about WiMax, and they are all very interested in the work that is going on in this space,” Intel spokesman Dan Francisco tells Unstrung.

Intel’s enthusiasm in pushing the development of WiMax is hardly surprising, in light of plans to launch its own 802.16a chips. “We expect to be first to market with the 802.16 certified silicon by the second half of this year,” adds Francisco (see Intel's WiMax Drive).

These chips will be used in wireless MAN base stations intended to provide high-speed data services at distances of up to 30 miles or so (see Airspan Builds on Intel). WiMax is also 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).

Intel’s bullish statements come at a time of mixed industry sentiment over the technology’s potential for future success. A recent Unstrung poll found that Broadband Wireless Access and WiMax is the technology most likely to put a little oomph back into the wireless industry in 2004, contradicting earlier analyst belief that vendors in this space will be left with slim pickings (see BWA Takes the Honors and Startups Battle for Scraps?).

— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung

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