WiMax wireless broadband technology is gaining momentum worldwide with the announcement by Intel that carriers across the globe are deploying, or will soon be rolling out, fixed WiMax networks using the company's technology.
The operators are introducing commercial deployments in cities as well as suburban and rural communities, allowing broadband wireless networks to reach previously underserved locations.
WiMax, or Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access, creates hotspots that stretch dozens of miles, reaching much farther than typical Wi-Fi networks, and allow users to surf the Web wirelessly at speeds faster than today's connections via a DSL or cable modem.
The 802.16e standard that defines WiMax is poised for ratification by the IEEE and is backed by Intel, Cisco, Motorola, AT&T, Sprint Nextel, and Nortel, among others.
Intel is providing its PRO/Wireless 5116 broadband interface chipset, previously known by its codename Rosedale, for the WiMax equipment being used by operators in France, Mexico, South America, the Philppines, and Eastern Europe. Infrastructure for the new networks is being built by Airspan, Alcatel, Alvarion, and Redline Communications.
The systems include basic high-speed access for homes, Internet telephony, business connectivity, and support for schools and government offices.
For example, VoIP services are being offered by BEC Telecom in the Dominican Republic, while residential and small business users now have access to high-speed WiMax Internet from AXTEL in Monterey, Mexico and from Dedicado in Montevideo, Uruguay.
"These are the first commercial deployments using the Rosedale technology, and provide a significant boost for WiMax," said Intel spokesperson Amy Martin. As a "last-mile" wireless broadband offering, she added, WiMax is recognized by countries as an optimal way to provide broadband Internet access.
In addition, 11 more carriers, from Peru to Taiwan, are in the process of developing WiMax networks that should be up and running by the end of the year.
Intel also said the government of Taiwan is investing some $1.12 billion on mobile initiatives, including WiMax and Intel's Asian Broadband Campaign, an initiative in which Intel is working with public agencies and carriers to spur rollouts in Southeast Asia.
Martin suggested that it would be about six months to a year until there widespread use of fixed WiMax networks, and that mobile WiMax is expected by late 2006 or early 2007.
A recent market research report published by IDATE projects that, by 2010, WiMax will represent a global market of $3.5 billion, representing 4 percent of all broadband usage worldwide.