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Intel and Nokia partner on WiMax

The chipmaker says it will work closely with the phone giant to ensure WiMax interoperability.

Intel and Nokia said Wednesday that they're working closely together to get WiMax-enabled devices on the market in 2008 when Sprint Nextel plans to launch parts of its new WiMax network.

The companies announced at the WiMax World Tradeshow in Chicago that they'd work together to ensure interoperability between Intel's WiMax chips and Nokia's laptop devices. Intel will also work with Nokia Siemens Networks to ensure interoperability between Intel's chips and Nokia Siemens' networking gear.

Intel and Nokia are both strong proponents of WiMax, a wireless technology that provides faster speeds than cellular technology, but offers service over longer distances than Wi-Fi. And both companies are providing technology and equipment to Sprint Nextel, which is currently building out a nationwide WiMax network.

Intel, Nokia and Nokia Siemens Networks said they've already begun testing their gear with equipment with dozens of other vendors in Sprint's Herndon, Va., testing labs. The companies hope that this early interoperability testing will reduce the time it takes to ensure these products work with other devices, ultimately speeding up adoption of the technology and getting products to market more quickly.

"Intel, Nokia and Nokia Siemens Networks all recognize our collective responsibility in ensuring that people can take full advantage of WiMax," Raviv Melamed, general manager of Intel's Mobile Wireless Group, said in a statement. "Simply put, the infrastructure behind the networks and the devices that access those networks must work together seamlessly."

Intel and Motorola have been working together on Mobile WiMax interoperability since 2005.

Nokia also said Wednesday that it will use Intel's WiMax chips designed specifically for mobile Internet and consumer electronic devices, in its new Nseries Internet Tablets. The Internet tablets, which are designed to offer a rich Internet and computing experience on a device small enough to fit into a pocket, will be among the very first WiMax-enabled devices to ship in 2008.

Intel also plans to make a big push with WiMax in the traditional laptop market. At its recent developer conference in San Francisco, the company introduced its next-generation notebook technology called Montevina, which will include an integrated Wi-Fi/WiMax radio. The plan is that in 2008, laptop consumers will have the option of choosing WiMax as an additional access technology when they configure their new laptops.