Motorola, Intel team on mobile WiMax

The two industry giants are working to spur adoption of the technology by jointly promoting it.

Motorola and Intel are teaming up to accelerate the development and adoption of a broadband technology called WiMax for mobile devices, the companies announced Thursday.

The two industry giants have been working side by side on the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers 802.16e standard, which provides specifications for both fixed and wireless broadband applications. But now Motorola and Intel, which has been a leader in WiMax development, plan to collaborate and share testing results and design information to ensure that the new products they are developing are interoperable.

Motorola said this agreement in no way binds it to using only Intel chips in its products. It plans to continue to work with other chip manufacturers as well.

But getting two market leaders to work together to promote the new technology is important in creating a market. The 802.11e standard is expected to be finished within the next month. Even after the standard is complete, it will take months for companies to make their products compatible.

The collaboration makes sense, considering that the companies are each working with cellular carrier Sprint Nextel, which is testing the WiMax technology in its labs.

Motorola also said on Thursday that it will not develop products using the 802.16d WiMax specification, which was ratified last year by the IEEE and only supports fixed point-to-point links. Instead, the company will put all of its development efforts into products supporting 802.16e. Equipment built for 802.16e is not compatible with 802.16d.

WiMax is considered a promising next-generation wireless technology because it supports high data rates and has a long transmission reach. The technology supports data speeds from 1 megabit per second to 5mbps, and it can be transmitted over a 20-mile radius. This is much farther than Wi-Fi technology based on 802.11 standards, which typically transmits signals only up to 50 feet.

WiMax is also believed to be cheaper than comparable cellular technology because it requires fewer network elements.

Motorola sees WiMax as a key piece of its mobility strategy and plans to introduce an 802.16e WiMax phone in early 2007. The company also plans to build a dual-mode phone that supports WiMax and cellular to allow people to roam in and out of the two networks for maximum wireless coverage. Motorola already sells a dual-mode Wi-Fi and cellular phone.

"When you talk about mobility, you need dual-mode and multimode devices for roaming," said Raghu Rau, senior vice president of global marketing and strategy for Motorola. "WiMax networks won't be built overnight. All the wireless technologies--Wi-Fi, cellular and WiMax--will be complimentary."

Intel plans to introduce WiMax chips into laptops in 2007 or 2008.

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