Intel funds mobile WiMax effort in Japan

Intel Capital announces a $43 million investment in UQ Communications, which is deploying the mobile variant of the wireless technology.

The venture capital arm of chipmaker Intel has announced an investment in Japanese WiMax company UQ Communications, which intends to provide coverage to most of Japan by 2012.

Intel Capital announced the $43 million investment on Sunday. Intel has long been a prime backer of the wide-range wireless technology, which it says has been deployed to varying extents in 135 countries.

"Intel Capital's investment in UQ Communications is one of our most significant commitments in developing the WiMax ecosystem around the globe," Intel Capital president Arvind Sodhani said in a statement. "UQ's WiMax deployment in Japan is a spectacular example of technology innovation being put to work."

UQ, whose network went live in February, is deploying the mobile variant of WiMax. The fixed version is already being offered in some areas of the U.K., but deployment of the mobile version--a candidate for the title of "4G"--is being held up by a lack of available spectrum.

When it goes to auction, the bulk of this spectrum--in the so-called "3G expansion band" around 2.6GHz--is expected to go to providers of rival technology LTE , but it is possible that some will be bought by a provider of mobile WiMax.

LTE has the backing of most of the incumbent mobile industry, but deployments are expected to lag behind mobile WiMax by a year or two.

David Meyer of ZDNet UK reported from London.

 

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