Intel Demos WiMax Technology

LAS VEGAS--Intel conducted a live demonstration of its WiMax broadband wireless capability for attendees of the Interop 2005 conference here, offering high-speed Internet access over a 500-square-mile area around Las Vegas.

Tuesday's demonstration included live audio and video wireless feeds into the Mandalay Bay conference center where Interop is being held, as well as 12 miles into the desert, out to a golf course near the city's southern edge, and into a mobile home traveling down the fabled Las Vegas strip.

The WiMax signal was broadcast from atop the Stratosphere Hotel on the northern edge of the city's downtown area.

Though wind in the desert location caused the audio signal there to break up, Sean Maloney, general manager of Intel's mobility group, said the signals were generally "spectacular," running at speeds of 7 megabits per second or greater.

Covering Tokyo

The technology was based on Intel's PRO/Wireless 5116 broadband interface, running on hardware from Tel Aviv-based Alvarion, Maloney said. Alvarion provides WiMax-ready hardware called BreezeMAX 3500 for service providers in France and Spain.

Maloney said that the WiMax signal was transmitted from laptop computers communicating with an Alvarion base station at the Stratosphere Hotel. The laptop gear used in the demonstration is still being perfected by various companies, he said.

Such networks are already in development in Korea and Japan, and Intel expects a downtown WiMax network in Tokyo to be fully operational within six months, Maloney said.

In comments to reporters, Maloney said that U.S. engineers have helped make WiMax effective. But other countries have been faster to implement it because they have wireless spectrum available that the United States has not provided. Though the U.S. Federal Communications Commission understands the need for more spectrum for uses such as WiMax, that spectrum has not yet been released. Maloney said that between 60 MHz and 100 MHz of spectrum is needed--"and more beyond that."

Wi-Fi Adjunct

WiMax is likely to serve as an adjunct to more-traditional public and private Wi-Fi hot spots, and it will be used to fill in areas not served by Wi-Fi or to provide back-haul connections to conventional networks, Intel officials said. Asked whether U.S. telephone providers might balk at the idea of WiMax proliferation, which could provide cheap voice-over-IP services to a range of customers, Maloney said that some Asian carriers have added wireless and Wi-Fi to round out their service offerings.

"Service providers are understandably twitchy," he said. The proper response should be to "reach customers in the best way."

This story, "Intel Demos WiMax Technology" was originally published by Computerworld.

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