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Intel Denies Any Reduction in WiMAX Commitment

Intel has responded to claims the company is reducing or scaling back its commitment to the WiMAX wireless standard, saying organizational changes within the company were just that, and not a reflection of a change in commitment.

Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) was forced to post a reply affirming its commitment to WiMAX after DigiTimes, a Taiwan-based tech website, ran an article noting that Intel had dissolved its WiMAX Program Office, which was set up to promote the development of WiMAX-related technologies.

Staff members of the WiMAX Program Office are to be absorbed into Intel's Mobile Wireless Group (MWG), PC Client Group (PCCG), or Sales and Marketing (SMG) unit, depending on their skills.

The DigiTimes story cast some doubt on whether Intel would continue to support WiMAX or "withdraw from the segment." However, since the Chinese language article ran, DigiTimes has posted an updated English version, which includes the Intel response.

Intel said that WiMAX has evolved since it launched the WiMAX Program Office five years ago and that the reorg is nothing unusual. When Intel gears up to back a new technology it typically creates a program office to help promote it. Once the technology matures the office is dissolved and its members absorbed back into other parts of the company. Intel established similar offices for Wi-Fi and for when Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) shifted from PowerPC processors to Intel chips.

"None of these means we are backing off of WiMAX. Just last week Clearwire announced a cool deal here in the US with Best Buy on more WiMAX-enabled laptops for back to school and the holiday season," Intel spokesman Bill Kircos said in a blog post.

"Intel continues to be one of the biggest supporters of WiMAX. WiMAX is our preferred 4G technology for delivering high-speed wireless broadband for data devices, and this organizational change in no way impacts our commitment to WiMAX. We are excited for the growth ahead with WiMAX in 2010 and 2011 where millions of WiMAX devices will make their way into the hands of end users," he added.

Kircos notes that to date, there are some 500 WiMax networks in 147 countries and dozens of U.S. cities have coverage. Its sole U.S. carrier is Clearwire, which Intel has funded. Clearwire provides the 4G coverage to Sprint Nextel.

Clearwire/WiMAX was a competitor to LTE, also called a 4G technology because of its fast data speeds. Sprint was exclusively a WiMAX company, but earlier this year renegotiated its agreement with Intel so it could begin adopting LTE as soon as it wants to. Sprint's three main competitors in the U.S., Verizon Wireless, AT&T Wireless and T-Mobile, are all LTE supporters.

Andy Patrizio is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.