Cisco Systems has formally joined the ranks of a wireless broadband group, the WiMax Forum, according to a Cisco representative and the chairman of the coalition.
"Cisco has become a member, very recently, like in the last day," said Ronald Resnick chairman of the WiMax Forum and director of marketing at Intel. Resnick added that the group now has about 140 members, along with nearly 40 applications for membership still being reviewed.
The WiMax Forum promotes and will market products based on the 802.16-2004 standard, which covers the wireless transmission of data at several megabits per second over a number of miles. Those products that are tested and approved to be interoperable with other 802.16-2004 products will be deemed WiMax compliant.
Wireless broadband is viewed by federal regulators, politicians and industry watchers as the third most desired option, behind digital subscriber line and cable, for high speed Internet access. Many are picking WiMax as the leading wireless broadband technology because of the broad industry support it has received from the likes of Intel, Fujitsu Microelectronics America and others.
Still, for all its promise, WiMax is in the early stages of development, and service based on the technology won't likely be available until the end of next year. It is also viewed mainly as an option for broadband service to rural areas, but that may change if prices for equipment drop.
Cisco's role in the group will likely be limited, at least initially, according to Mark Sicner, who is in business development for Cisco's mobile wireless group.
"Right now we're doing more of an exploratory look at WiMax?it fits right in with Cisco's core business IP technology, and we want to understand what's going on in the industry," said Sicner. "No decisions have been made in this area, so I wouldn't read too much into it."
Cisco owns a minority stake in Flarion Technologies, which has been a supporter of products using the 802.20 standard, a WiMax rival technology.
Cisco joins Nortel Networks and Atmel, which have also recently joined the WiMax Forum. Atmel announced its membership Wednesday, and Nortel said last week that it was part of the group.