Intel Debuts First WiMAX Chip

Intel began shipping its first-ever processor
that taps into the wireless standard 802.16, or WiMAX, the company said Monday.

At separate press events in Washington DC, London and Shanghai, the chipmaker is expected to introduce its Intel PRO/Wireless 5116
broadband interface device. Previously known as Rosedale, the chip is
designed for wireless modems and residential gateways. Prices were not immediately disclosed.

The processor’s radio features an OFDM physical layer, an integrated 10/100 media access controller, inline security processing,
and a time division multiplexing controller interface for handling
applications such as VoIP .

It also offers a programmable architecture that makes it easier for equipment makers to add additional applications on top of the chip.

Intel said it will market the new device to equipment manufacturers and carriers. Several equipment providers such as Airspan, Alvarion, Aperto Networks, Axxcelera Broadband Wireless, Gemtek, Huawei, Proxim, Redline Communications, Siemens Mobile, SR Telecom and ZTE are expected to announce WiMAX devices based on Intel’s product. In addition, Intel said several service providers will announce plans to begin commercial WiMAX trials based on Intel silicon products later this year.

“As a standards-based, high-speed Internet access solution, WiMAX can provide the platform for the next generation of Internet expansion, connecting the next billion Internet users,” Scott Richardson, general manager of Intel’s Broadband Wireless Division, said in a statement.

802.16 is considered the next step beyond Wi-Fi
because it is designed to cover a wide area network for broadband
operations. The wireless standard already includes numerous advances
that are slated for introduction into the 802.11 standard, such as
quality of service, enhanced security, higher data rates, and mesh and smart antenna technology allowing better utilization of the spectrum.

Intel also touts WiMAX as a last-mile alternative for remote areas not currently served by DSL or cable, as well as making it possible to wirelessly connect buildings up to several miles apart.

The opportunity for 802.16 equipment is forecast to reach a value of approximately $1 billion in 2008, according to a recent study by Visant Strategies. The report, entitled 802.16/WiMAX Technologies: World Market Forecasts 2003-2008, found that last-mile access will be the first application for 802.16a, but that mobility will soon follow via 802.16e.

The research suggests WiMAX is considered a migration
path to 4G , but more likely to be used by holders of Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) spectrum than by mobile carriers. The 802.16a protocol is also expected to play a role in outdoor and private networks, the extension of hotspots, and backhaul applications that lack line-of-sight.

Some of the carriers working with Intel to enable a broad ecosystem around WiMAX include AT&T, Altitude Telecom, British Telecom, Brasil
Telecom, ETB out of Columbia, Iberband, Millicom, Qwest, Sify,
Speakeasy, Telkom, Telmex, TowerStream, and UHT out of the Ukraine.

In addition, Intel said several equipment manufacturers have
announced their own products based on the Intel PRO/Wireless 5116
broadband interface. Airspan, Alvarion, Aperto Networks, Axxcelera
Broadband Wireless, Gemtek, Huawei, Proxim Corporation, Redline
Communications, Siemens Mobile, SR Telecom and ZTE are among those
partnering with Intel.

For example, Aperto said it is putting Intel’s WiMAX silicon technology and System-on-Chip (SoC) architecture into its consumer customer premises equipment for the 3.5 GHz, 2.5 GHz and 5 GHz frequency bands.

Aperto said it would also use the Intel chip for its consumer-class customer premises equipment.

News Around the Web