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Multiple wireless standards will fill the 4G airwaves

Intel Developer Forum Bewildering arrays
Thu Sep 18 2003, 00:13
IN THE FUTURE wireless world, your handheld communications device is likely to rely on a dizzying array of radio standards - maybe a dozen or so -which your handlheld will be required to support just to stay in touch. Some of these standards will support communications with legacy devices and so require some form of backwards compatability, Intel panel discussions in San Jose's plush new Marriott hotel concluded today.

Looking beyond the "narrowband" world which is 2.5 or 3G towards 4G, Intel's assortment of boffins painted a picture of a 4G world populated by a confusing array of standards, which shouldn't, however, be confusing to the end user, if Intel and the other communications firms do their job properly.

Shane Wall a director of Intel's emerging platforms lab said that he didn't expect any single radio standard to emerge. "Ultimately, we'll have multiple standards," he said. He added that the problem for communications companies like the one Intel is determined to become would be to ensure that multiple "radios" can coexist in the same space. "And we have to work out how to integrate these standards seamlessly," he said.

The panel discussion was chaired by "Kicking" Pat Gelsinger who claimed that Intel had almost always been a communications company. "In some ways we are new to the communications industry, he said, and in some ways we're not," he said. Whatever the case, "communications are becoming central to our business," he said outlining the chipmaker's commitment to R&D in the communications space.

Gelsinger claimed that having been "beat up" for being late to deliver its 80211g technology, Intel would have been beat up if it had been early - and therefore accused of using its muscle to leverage the standard towards its own preferences.

Beat up if it early or beat up it it was late, he complained. It didn't sound fair to him. "It just doesn't work for us to deviate too far from the standard," he said.

He said Intel's research focuses on "minimising our reliance on an particular standard. We will increasingly stack up our radios. You'll have 10 plus in you cellphone/PDA/laptop and none of them will go away and they'll all need backwards compatability," he said. µ


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