Intel says its first-generation WiMax chips will go into wireless broadband devices that cost less than $200 (£112) and would not require a service provider.
The chips, code-named Rosedale, will support long-range services that can penetrate the outer wall of a home or office, said Scott Richardson, general manager of Intel's broadband wireless group, at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco. Users should be able to install the client equipment themselves.
The device makers will produce test units over the next six to nine months and roll out their equipment next year, he said.
WiMax is designed to provide wireless data at speeds comparable to wired broadband with a reach of upto 30 miles (48km).
The first generation coming next year, based on the IEEE 802.16-2004 standard, is intended to take the place of cable modem or digital subscriber line services in a fixed location. Carriers will be able to deploy base stations that deliver about 70mbps for users to share, Richardson said.
Another standard under development, known as IEEE 802.16e, should lead to services in 2006 that a user will be able to access from multiple locations around a metropolitan area.
True mobility comes in 2007, when Intel expects to deliver WiMax chips that fit in cell phones and can be used with services that hand off the user from one base station to another. Nevertheless, Intel expects WiMax to complement both Wi-Fi and 3G cellular mobile data services, he said.
Broadband wireless has been held back by numerous issues, including equipment cost and the need for direct line of sight from the service provider's tower to the customer's home or office.
The standards-based Rosedale technology will help eliminate those problems and drive the cost of client equipment down below $200 from the $350-$500 cost of current proprietary systems, according to Richardson.
Intel believes price declines will ultimately take WiMax hardware down to Wi-Fi prices. Some analysts and industry participants have voiced doubts, citing the special requirements of carriers and the broad range of radio frequencies that may be used by WiMax,.
WiMax is likely to be delivered over several frequencies, but initially on the licensed 2.5GHz and 3.5GHz ranges and the unlicensed 5GHz spectrum also used by IEEE 802.11a Wi-Fi networkssaid.
With Rosedale, Intel will turn to third parties for the accompanying radio chips, but the company is looking at making WiMax radio chips itself in the future. In July, the company showed off a WiMax radio chip from its lab that Intel officials said could also support other wireless technologies at the same time.
Stephen Lawson writes for IDG News Service