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WiMax Gets Double Boost

The fledgling WiMax market received a long-awaited shot in the arm today with the launch of Intel Corp.'s (Nasdaq: INTC) 802.16 silicon and the announcement of industry plans to begin interoperability testing of equipment this summer.

As expected, Intel today finally announced the commercial launch of its WiMax chipset, designed for customer premises equipment (CPE) (see Intel Unveils WiMax Chip). Previously codenamed Rosedale, the product is now referred to as the "Intel PRO/Wireless 5116 broadband interface device” [ed. note: hmmm, snappy]. The vendor is keen to stress that, although its first 802.16 silicon offering will not target the base-station market, this strategy will change over time. “As we look forward to the next couple generations of silicon, you should expect our base-station presence to grow,” said Ron Peck, director of marketing for Intel's WiMax Group, in a conference call.

Intel has already announced deals with a number of broadband equipment suppliers, including Airspan Networks, Alvarion Ltd. (Nasdaq: ALVR), Aperto Networks, Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., Proxim Corp. (Nasdaq: PROX), Redline Communications Inc., Siemens AG (NYSE: SI; Frankfurt: SIE), SR Telecom Inc. (Toronto: SRX), and ZTE Corp. (Shenzhen: 000063; Hong Kong: 0763).

In terms of dollars, Peck states that “in units of a thousand we are telling people to expect in the mid 40s.”

Meanwhile, the WiMax Forum has been talking up plans to begin interoperability testing of fixed wireless 802.16 kit, a task that aims to ensure different vendor offerings are compatible with one another.

“The lab will open and begin accepting vendor equipment for certification testing in July,” notes a statement (see WiMax Forum Unveils Plans). “The first WiMax Forum certified products are expected in the November/December timeframe.”

Such a move will help allay previous fears surrounding delays to the WiMax certification process (see Wise Words on WiMax).

— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung

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