Intel and Clearwire to work on WiMax together

Intel will work with Clearwire, a wireless internet service provider, on future networks based on WiMax wireless broadband...

Intel will work with Clearwire, a wireless internet service provider, on future networks based on WiMax wireless broadband technology.

Clearwire aims to offer services based on the emerging IEEE 802.16e standard, a future version of WiMax that supports mobility, said Sean Maloney, executive vice-president and general manager of Intel's Communications Group, at the CTIA Wireless IT & Entertainment trade show.

Equipment made by NextNet Wireless, a Clearwire subsidiary, and based on future Intel chips would power that service. Intel also will invest in Clearwire. They did not provide financial details of the deal.

Intel has been heavily promoting WiMax, for which it is just beginning to roll out a first generation of processors designed for fixed wireless broadband. The Clearwire deal is a move to jumpstart the next generation of that technology, which Intel has said should be available in 2006.

WiMax is an online of sight technology designed for data transmission over distances as great as 30 miles, at typical speeds of 300kbps to 2mbps per customer in its fixed-wireless form.

Despite standardisation and the backing of Intel and a number of equipment providers, WiMax has not attracted a roll-out commitment from a major US service provider. That has been partly Intel's fault, according to RHK analyst Tad Neeley.

The company spent too much time pushing WiMax as a longer-range version of Wi-Fi, which runs on unlicensed spectrum, Neeley said. Carriers feared that could cannibalise their existing data services.

Although Intel and Clearwire took great pains to avoid labeling current 2.5G mobile phone networks as a competitor to WiMax, Intel's Maloney pointed out that WiMax has a cost advantage over established networks because it was designed specifically for high-speed data networks.

The spectrum Clearwire is using for its services, called ITFS (Instructional Television Fixed Service) and originally intended for local educational broadcasting, won't allow the carrier to deploy a nationwide service, according to Neeley.

Stephen Lawson writes for IDG News Service

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