Intel braves new world of WiMax

An emerging wide-area wireless broadband technology known as WiMax shows promise as a "last mile" solution for bringing high-speed Internet access into homes--but it's still a few years away from general availability, according to an Intel executive.

"WiMax can be a big deal in the next five years--the way Wi-Fi has been over the last two years," Intel Executive Vice President Sean Maloney said at the Wireless Communications Association conference here Wednesday. "Getting fiber would be ideal...but the cost economics (of installations), about $300 per square foot in San Francisco, are pushing away from (broadband) to wireless." The 802.16 standard was approved in January of last year and the WiMax Forum, an industry group of 67 companies, is promoting the standard under the name WiMax, short for Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access. WiMax networks have a range of up to about 30 miles with data transfer speeds of up to 70mbps.

WiMax is viewed as a cheaper alternative to digital subscriber lines and cable broadband access, because the installation costs of wireless infrastructure are minimal, when compared with the wired versions, which can involve laying cables and ripping up buildings and streets, in some cases. WiMax is not yet a reality, considering that even chips based on the technology are not currently available. Venture capital is pouring into WiMax, however, according to Maloney, and companies are preparing to meet demand.

News source: C|Net News.com

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