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WiMax: The Chips Are Up

Some of the bigger names in silicon are getting more seriously into the WiMax chip business as the wireless broadband networks move from hype to reality.

Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) is demonstrating its first mobile WiMax modem chipset at the WiMax World show in Chicago today. The company says that it will start shipping its mobile WiMax devices early in 2008. (See Moto Promises WiMax Phones in '08.)

The chipset will use the latest 'wave 2' WiMax specification, which calls for a two-by-two antenna array to ramp up data speeds to a maximum of something around 20 Mbit/s. "We're really focused on wave 2," notes Gary Koerper, VP of Platform Planning and Systems Architecture at Motorola. (See CTIA: WiMax in the Air.)

Motorola arguably has an advantage over some of the startups already established in the market -- such as Sequans Communications and Beceem Communications Inc. -- which already have silicon on the market, since Moto is also involved in rollout of the earliest networks and devices.

Notably, Motorola will be providing equipment to Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) as it deploys one of its very first WiMax markets in Chicago late this year. The firm also has a deal to supply Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR) with kit. (See Sprint's Ready to XOHM Out.)

Keorper says that it developed most of the silicon on the new chipset itself. Some of the standard components, however, have been sourced from Texas Instruments Inc. (NYSE: TXN).

IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) is also getting into the WiMax chip business. Big Blue says it is working with Wavesat Inc. to develop WiMax chips for mobile devices. (See Wavesat, IBM Partner.)

This is IBM's first official WiMax chip deal. It is not, however, the company's first venture into the world of WiMax. The company signed a networking partnership deal with Alvarion Technologies Ltd. (Nasdaq: ALVR) last year.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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