Intel Promises Wi-Fi-WiMax Chipset In 2008

Laptop makers Lenovo, Acer, Asus, Panasonic, and Toshiba are all signed up for Intel's upcoming 25-watt Montevina mobile platform.

Intel on Tuesday bolstered its worldwide wireless endeavors by announcing an upcoming chipset supporting both Wi-Fi and WiMax networking technologies.

Chief executive Paul Otellini said Intel was moving very fast to keep its promise to deliver WiMax radio modules in mid-2008 that would support 25-watt Intel Penryn mobile processors. The chipset codenamed Montevina would also support HD DVD and Blu-ray high definition video formats in a package half the size of current products.

WiMax, or World Interoperability for Microwave Access, is a wireless broadband standard that's designed to extend Wi-Fi networks across greater distances, such as a campus or sections of metropolitan areas. The IEEE 802.16 standard is theoretically capable of transmitting data up to 70 Mbps as far as 37 miles.

Otellini said Intel's goal is to make WiMax as commonplace around the world as Wi-Fi is now in coffee shops and airports.

"We are on the cusp of a new global network," Otellini said during the company's annual developer conference in San Francisco. He estimated nearly 150 million people will be covered by WiMax next year. That number is expected to expand to 1.3 billion in 2012.

Otellini said laptop makers Lenovo, Acer, Asus, Panasonic, and Toshiba have all agreed to carry the combination Wi-Fi and WiMax chipsets when the technology debuts.

Intel's promise of worldwide WiMax has also been aided by testing. Last year, Otellini said Intel oversaw 10 different WiMax trials with the help of wireless providers like Clearwire and Sprint. Currently, there are 120 WiMax tests around the world, he said.

Partnerships are also key to Intel's WiMax plans, Otellini said. The latest collaboration, announced Tuesday, is a joint venture with KDDI, East Japan Railway, Kyocera, Daiwa Securities Group, and the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ.

The partners said they will bid for the 2.5-GHz frequency band for Mobile Broadband Wireless Access System so that it can build base stations and license WiMax technology in Japan. Japan's first WiMax field trial was held last year in Osaka.

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