Intel, Clearwire Join Forces To Drive WiMAX

As part of the collaboration, unveiled Monday at the CTIA Wireless IT and Entertainment conference in San Francisco, Clearwire aims to deploy WiMAX networks using wireless broadband equipment from subsidiary NextNet Wireless that includes future Intel silicon products.

Sean Maloney, Intel executive vice president and general manager of the Intel Communications Group, said the products and technologies eventually will be available to solution providers.

"WiMAX technology has spawned a global community that continues to gain momentum, and we as an industry have achieved some important milestones this past year," he said during a keynote address at the event. "Carriers, equipment makers and solution providers around the world are moving quickly to lay the foundation for building this new global network."

The joint development agreement is for future products supporting the upcoming IEEE 802.16e standard for WiMAX solutions found in both infrastructure equipment and notebooks, according to Maloney. The pact also involves a significant investment in Clearwire by Intel Capital, part of the chip giant's strategy to invest $150 million in wireless technology to accelerate adoption of high-speed wireless networks worldwide. Terms of the investment weren't disclosed.

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An emerging wireless standard, WiMAX promises to provide high-speed broadband connectivity in fixed and mobile wireless networks. With the help of NextNet, Clearwire launched its first broadband wireless network in Jacksonville, Fla., in August, and the network employs technologies similar to those found in WiMAX networks.

For McCaw, the collaboration with Intel marks another step toward WiMAX deployment. At a CTIA press conference, the telecommunications pioneer hinted that Clearwire would call upon WiMAX technology to deliver last-mile connectivity to rural areas nationwide.

"Today's announcement marks the beginning of an important relationship to accelerate the delivery of broadband services to people across the world," McCaw said. "Essentially, we see this as an opportunity to complement our existing technology with an even better approach to wireless that enables us to serve broad geographic areas."

For Intel, the collaboration is the next step toward the continued development of WiMAX technology beyond Rosedale, the code name for its upcoming wireless broadband chip for WiMAX products based on the IEEE 802.16-2004 standard. Rosedale is Intel's first "system-on-a-chip" solution for cost-effective customer premise equipment supporting that early standard.

McCaw and Maloney said engineers from their companies have been working together since last summer to develop, test and deploy WiMAX base stations and customer premise equipment. The gear could be available to solution providers by the end of the year, they said.