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David Sims - TMCnet CRM Alert Columnist[April 21, 2005]

Intertel and Other Equipment Vendors to Join Intel�s WiMax Plans

By David Sims, TMCnet CRM Alert Columnist

According to the Industry Standard, Intel Corp.'s commercial launch of a WiMax wireless broadband chip this week brought out several equipment vendors planning products based on the chip as well as service providers saying they will hold trials of the technology.

The Intel Pro/Wireless 5116 chip, formerly code-named Rosedale, is based on the IEEE 802.16-2004 specification and designed for wireless services comparable to digital subscriber line or cable modem offerings. Support for traditional time-division multiplexing telephone service also is built in to the chip, according to Intel.

Carrier trials are likely to occur before that time. Aperto, a WiMax vendor in Milpitas, California, plans to hold trials of Intel-based devices in August and September with several carriers, including Interbanda in Spain and Intertel in the Netherlands, said Alan Menezes, vice president of marketing. Aperto sees its biggest initial markets as Europe, Latin America and Asia, Menezes said.

Intertel executive Jeff Ford will deliver a keynote address at TMC’s Speech-World conference in Dallas May 24-26th.

According to The Standard, the chip, announced last year and now available in volume, is priced at about US$45 each in quantities of 1,000 and is expected to go into consumer or business on-site devices priced from $250 to $550, said Intel spokeswoman Amy Martin.

WiMax is the commercial name of the network technology based on IEEE 802.16-2004, which allows for wireless data and voice system over a range of several miles. WiMax is expected to be deployed in most cases by service providers using licensed spectrum. The WiMax Forum later this year will begin certifying products to carry the WiMax name.

Intel unveiled a long list of vendors developing gear based on the chip, including Alvarion Ltd., Aperto Networks Inc., Proxim Corp., Redline Communications Inc., Siemens AG, and China's Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. and ZTE Corp. Carriers planning trials include heavy hitters AT&T Corp., BT Group PLC, Brasil Telecom SA, Qwest Communications International Inc. and Telefonos de Mexico SA de CV.

Vendors and others backing WiMax are counting on the standard, approved last year, to allow for interoperability and the high volumes of manufacturing that typically drive electronics prices down.

The WiMax Forum announced Monday that it launched a certification program at a meeting last week and expects approved products to hit the market by year's end. The Cetecom test lab in Malaga, Spain, will start accepting products in July to test for interoperability and conformance to the standard, the group said in a statement. Products should ship in November or December, it said.

Qwest, which serves consumers in 14 Western U.S. states has tested WiMax in several locations over the past year, according to spokeswoman Claire Mylott. The company sees WiMax as a tool for delivering broadband to customers in the many rural areas in its territory that it hasn't yet reached with high-speed data, she said.

AT&T Corp. plans to hold trials of WiMax service to enterprises in the U.S., said Behzad Nadji, vice president of research and vice president of enterprise network and system architecture. AT&T sees WiMax as a possible way around paying incumbent local carriers for last-mile access to its customers, an expense that currently costs AT&T about $10 billion per year, he said.

Alvarion, which has been shipping a "WiMax-ready" subscriber device based on its own chip, said it demonstrated equipment based on the Intel chip last week at the WiMax Forum meeting in Spain. Its Intel-based gear should be certified and on the market some time in the second half of this year, company officials said.

David Sims is contributing editor and CRM Alert columnist for TMCnet.

To discover how contact centers can save money and increase productivity by making the switch to IP Telephony, be sure to attend TMC's IP Contact Center Summit May 24-26, 2005, in Dallas, Texas. IP Contact Center Summit is co-located with the Speech-World conference, where you can get expert guidance in the deployment of speech technologies to strengthen customer relationships.

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