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Intel's WiMAX plans face huge threat

We'll have nae wi-fi in our yard, white paper warns
Tue Nov 30 2004, 09:53
THE WIRELESS broadband platform championed by Intel known as WiMAX, faces challenges from 802.20, according to a paper seen by the INQUIRER.

The paper, catchily titled Deploying WiMAX Certified Broadband Wireless Access Systems, written by Cristian Patachia-Sultanoiu and published in the Journal of the Communications Network, examines not only the back end technology of WiMAX but also its relationship within the wider standards sphere.

WiMAX, IEEE 802.16e, is designed for long range broadband access. With data transfer speeds of 70 Mbit/s over 50 km, it is being touted as broadband for the masses. Intel, of course, hopes that it can make WiMAX compatible chips that will be as ubiquitous as its universally-acclaimed Centrino technology.

However, competition from 802.20 - nicknamed Mobile-Fi - could shatter the dreams of those backing WiMAX, according to the paper. Whilst the data rate and range is only half that of WiMAX, it is inherently more mobile. It has an astonishing latency of just 10ms - 500ms is standard for 3G communications - and can maintain integrity at as much as 250km/h, compared to just 100km/h for WiMAX. Since it uses more common spectrum - licensed bands up to 3.5GHz - it also offers global mobility, hand-off and roaming support.

Patachia-Sultanoiu goes on to say that he believes WiMAX will end up being the defining standard. Mobile operators, who are generally friendly to WiMAX, see 802.20 as a competing standard that could make their 3G licenses worth rather less than they paid for them. As with any standard, the ability to bring products to market is crucial - and with Intel pushing WiMAX hard, it's difficult to imagine a situation where it won't have its way.

Either way, it looks like those stuck in rural areas with no net access could be using WiMAX to authenticate their copies of Half-Life 2, oooh, some time next year. µ


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