Cisco WiMax Buzz Grows

CHICAGO -- NXTcomm -- Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) CTO Barry West added fuel to speculation about Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) entering the WiMax market.

Speaking briefly to Unstrung after his keynote here this morning, West said that a "major, major routing company" -- that he didn't specify -- is working on a home router product using WiMax wireless broadband technology. We exclusively reported back in May that the Linksys , cable, and wireless groups at Cisco are all looking at the potential of using WiMax in products. Sources at that time told Unstrung that the company had already started internal development work on products using the technology. (See Cisco Reconsiders WiMax.)

A move to WiMax would reverse the networking giant's perceived antipathy to the technology. The company still has a paper on its site that explains why "Cisco has no current plans to build 802.16 base stations." (See Cisco CTO Whips WiMax.)

Cisco's entry into the market would also be good news for Sprint, which -- West emphasized several times during his keynote -- is keen to get as many WiMax chips as possible embedded in a wide array of devices. Anything from cellphones to TVs and washing machines, according to West. [Ed note: Has anyone yet figured out why you'd want a wireless washing machine?]

Sprint is also working on several different strategies for ensuring good WiMax coverage indoors. If Cisco were to enter the WiMax home router space, that would likely make more vendors take the market seriously. (See Sprint Goes Femto With WiMax and Sprint Taking WiMax Indoors.)

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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