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Wireless group bulks up

Membership of the WiMax Forum more than doubles, as AT&T, Covad and others rally behind high-speed wireless networks that can compete with cable and DSL.

The WiMax Forum has more than doubled in size with the addition of service companies from the United States and wireless gear makers from Europe and Asia.

Those who have joined the wireless group include AT&T, Covad Communications Group, Hong Kong-based PCCW and equipment suppliers such as Siemens and ZTE of China. All told, membership now stands at 67 companies, compared to 28 just five months ago, the group said Wednesday.

arrow Wi-Max, or 802.16, aims to replace last-mile wiring
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WiMax, short for Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access, is a nonprofit body set up to certify interoperability of broadband wireless access products based on IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) 802.16 and other wireless specifications. The group's aim is to foster the construction of high-speed wireless networks that can compete with cable and DSL (digital subscriber line) technology.

WiMax networks have a range of up to about 30 miles, with data transfer speeds of up to 70 megabits per second.

Infrastructure equipment based on the WiMax standard began shipping last year, and the technology is seen as a key growth area in the wireless-networking sector. According to ABI Research, sales of broadband wireless access equipment are expected to reach $1.5 billion by 2008, with much of the growth coming from spending on WiMax gear.

"With the IEEE 802.16a standard, carriers are able to offer enterprise and residential customers more options for broadband connectivity at a lower cost," Christoph Caselitz, president of networks at the Siemens' mobile group, said in a statement. "For many people worldwide who cannot get access to broadband connectivity via cable or DSL, the new wireless technology will be their way to the Internet."

Others joining the forum include makers of wireless broadband access gear such as Axxcelera Broadband Wireless, BeamReach Networks, Intracom of Greece, KarlNet, NextNet Wireless, Remec and Vyyo.