Nokia, Intel Pen WiMax Pact

Questions have long swirled around WiMax , the promising (but unproven) wireless broadband technology. Will industry players hammer out standards? Is there a must-have application to drive adoption? Can companies make money?

An increasing number of wireless and IT firms are teaming up to find the answers. The latest are Nokia and Intel , which announced a broad WiMax partnership today.

The mobile specialist and the chipmaking giant will embark on a range of initiatives that will explore everything from base stations to wireless devices.

Eventually, the companies hope to demonstrate products to service providers that will enhance data services and complement third-generation networks.

Finally, Intel and Nokia will work with standards bodies to finalize the WiMax 802.16e specification, which will offer increased portability of broadband Internet access.

“Broadband technologies — of all types — represent an enormous opportunity for businesses and individuals around the world,” Sean Maloney, executive vice president and general manager of Intel’s Mobility Group, said in a statement. “Even though we and the industry as a whole are at the early stages of discovery and development, the industry momentum is remarkable.”

Intel, which recently debuted its first WiMax chip, has been reaching out to carriers and network equipment makers.

Last month, the Santa Clara, Calif., company signed a deal with Sprint to develop technical standards, test equipment and check interoperability with other network components in hopes of laying the groundwork for new devices and services.

WiMax supports very high bit rates in uploading and downloading from a base station at distances of up to 30 miles. Advocates say it could bring super high-speed Internet access, VoIP and other services to rural areas, office parks and school campuses at a cheaper price than traditional methods.

In addition, WiMax systems could be used by service providers, backhauling traffic from carriers’ main networks to alleviate congestion and trim costs.

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