Intel Deploys Prestandard WiMax

Intel donates WiMax gear to a London museum as proof that the technology works.

LONDON—WiMax backers continue to seed early versions of the technology among prospective customers, hoping that it will spark demand when services roll out in early 2006.

In the latest example, Intel Corp. has provided the National Museum of Science and Industry here an early WiMax deployment for its reserve warehouses, which sit on an abandoned airfield near Intels offices in Swindon, England.

A WiMax antenna sits atop the seven hangars currently in use by the museum, connected wirelessly to the base station housed in Intels Swindon offices. Inside each of the hangars, six Wi-Fi access points allow museum employees to roam between the hundreds of exhibits in storage, entering data on a Tablet PC.

Although hundreds of companies are members of the WiMAX Forum, including Intel, Alvarion Ltd., Atheros, France Telecom, Fujitsu, LG Electronics, Samsung, Sanyo and others, WiMax isnt a done deal. A number of companies including Broadcom, Cisco Systems, and large national telecom carriers are shying away from WiMax in favor of what they feel are more developed wireless standards, such as WCDMA (Wideband Code Division Multiple Access) and HSDPA (High Speed Downlink Packet Access).

Cisco, meanwhile, has staked out a more independent position, participating in the WiMAX Forum, but indicating in a carefully nuanced statement that the company has no plans to build WiMax base stations or any other base stations using WAN technology, favoring Wi-Fi instead.

Intel sees the technology as a wireless replacement for DSL or cable, offering speeds of up to 70M bps at a distance of 30 kilometers, with bandwidth dropping off the farther out the signal has to travel. Although Intel often shows the technology with a single antenna serving an entire metropolitan area, the reality is that traffic restrictions will probably limit a single antenna to a village housing a few thousand people, equipment makers have said.

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