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Intel, others form broadband wireless nonprofit

Intel Corp, Nokia, Fujitsu and other companies formed a nonprofit corporation to promote the adoption of broadband wireless access over long distances.

business Updated: Apr 09, 2003 12:43 IST

Intel Corp, Nokia, Fujitsu and other companies said they have formed a nonprofit corporation to promote the adoption of broadband wireless access over long distances.

The new company, dubbed WiMAX (World Interoperability for Microwave Access), aims to help cut the cost and time it takes for wireless providers to offer service.

"This is a way to connect (wirelessly) over long distances," Intel Executive Vice President Sean Maloney said in an interview. "It's another step toward low-cost, mass-produced wireless devices that do high-speed Internet."

WiMAX will test and certify the interoperability of broadband wireless access equipment that uses the 802.16 technical standard.

The new 802.16 technology, which is winding its way through a standards forum, will allow personal computers using the current 802.11 wireless standard, dubbed Wi-Fi, to reach farther distances to get onto the Internet, Intel said.

The 802.16 technology provides a range of up to 31 miles, without needing a direct line of sight to the wireless base station, WiMAX said.

The technology offers shared data rates of up to 70 megabits per second, which could easily allow more than 60 businesses with T1-type Internet connections and hundreds of homes with DSL connectivity to simultaneously connect to the Internet, according to WiMAX.

'Third pipe'
The technology can also provide a wireless extension to cable and DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) high-speed connections used in many homes.

"Today you can't get broadband wireless (Internet) via DSL or cable," said Margaret LaBrecque, president of WiMAX who also works in Intel's Broadband Wireless Initiatives Group.

After land-line and Wi-Fi connections, 802.16 technology "will enable a third pipe turning on the last mile of broadband access for millions of homes and businesses around the world," she said in a conference call.

It will be particularly beneficial in areas where cable and phone lines haven't yet been laid, LaBrecque said.

Vendors are expected to ship 802.16-compliant equipment in the second half of 2004, with volume shipments expected in 2005, she said.

LaBrecque said it was too soon to say whether or not Intel had plans to put the new technology into its chip sets. A Fujitsu official said his company should have it in chips early next year or by midyear.

WiMAX also will work with the European Telecommunications Standards Institute to develop test plans for a European standard for long-distance broadband wireless access.

Santa Clara, California-based chipmaker Intel last month launched its Centrino Wi-Fi chip package for people who want to surf the Web or check e-mail without being tethered to a land line.

Intel, the world's largest maker of semiconductors -- the brains of computers -- has invested more than $25 million in wireless networking companies and plans to spend at least $150 million.

Broadband equipment makers joining Intel, Finland's mobile telecommunications equipment maker Nokia and the Fujitsu Microelectronics America division of Japan's memory chip maker Fujitsu Ltd in the effort are: Airspan Networks Inc, Alvarion Ltd, Aperto Networks, Ensemble Communications Inc, OFDM Forum, Proxim Corp and Wi-LAN Inc.

First Published: Apr 09, 2003 12:43 IST