Another Test For WiMAX

Sprint and Intel are teaming on
products and services based on the emerging 802.16e WiMAX
wireless broadband specification, the companies announced today.

The wireless carrier and the chipmaker will hammer out technical standards,
test equipment and check interoperability with other network components in
hopes of laying the groundwork for new devices and services.

John Polivka, a spokesman for Overland, Kan.-based Sprint, said it’s too
soon to say when or where trials will be held.

“Other relationships important to trial activity are in the process of being
put into place,” he told internetnews.com. “This action unites two
premium brands in advancing standards development to ultimately meet market
needs.”

WiMAX supports very high bit rates in uploading and downloading from a base
station up to a distance of 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.

Some independent providers are already doing this with networks that contain several
WiMAX specifications. TowerStream, for example, activated its service in
San Francisco this week.

In addition, WiMAX systems could be used as a piece of a service provider’s
infrastructure, backhauling traffic from carriers’ main networks to
alleviate congestion and trim costs.

But others, including Cisco CTO Charlie Giancarlo, are skeptical, saying that WiMAX lacks a compelling application and risks being
overshadowed by alternate wireless broadband technologies.

It’s unclear how WiMAX will fit into Sprint’s plans, but Polivka said
it could complement other wireless technologies, such as third-generation
voice and data, Wi-Fi and Evolution-Data
Optimized (EV-DO).

Intel has been active in developing WiMAX standards. Last month, the Santa
Clara, Calif., company shipped
its first-ever processor that taps into the WiMAX specification.

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 found that last-mile access will be the first
application for 802.16a, but that mobility will soon follow via 802.16e.

At the CTIA tradeshow in March, a number of network equipment makers,
device manufacturers and carriers announced that they had devoted R&D dollars to WiMAX projects.

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