Intel's WiMax Drive
These chips, based on the 802.16a standard and promoted under the "WiMax" brand by the WiMax Forum, will be used in wireless metropolitan area network (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).
The Taiwan Economic News reports that the chips could be delivered in the second quarter of 2004, which could mean a late spring or early summer launch, rather than a rollout much later in the year.
But Intel company spokesman Dan Francisco is sticking to the party line: "What we've said publicly is that we will launch in the second half of '04."
When Intel releases its initial WiMax chipset is important, because the silicon sumo is actually driving the adoption of a viable 802.16 wireless MAN standard via the launch. "We expect to be first to market with standardized WiMax silicon," notes Francisco.
As Unstrung has reported before, the 802.16 standard -- as it stands -- is "impossible to implement." Intel's infrastructure partner Alvarion Ltd. (Nasdaq: ALVR) told us back in October that there are several different ways that the 802.16 spec could be interpreted and that it has fallen to the WiMax Forum to tease out a workable specification out of the confused standard (see A Conflicted MAN?).
Alvarion, however, has since backed away from the suggestion made in the October piece that there could be several different specs delivered by the Forum. The firm recently told Unstrung that there will be only one spec.
All of which leaves Intel in the driving seat at the inception of a market that some analysts see as potentially huge (see Visant: 802.16a Is the Future). The vendor clearly doesn't intend to be late to the wireless MAN party in the same way it was with wireless LAN and the Centrino 802.11 chipset launch.
— Dan Jones, Senior Editor, Unstrung