Intel Must Work with the World on WiMax

Opinion: Intel needs world approval to make WiMax work the way it wants.

Opinion: Heres a question. Whats the quickest way to be told to FOAD? (Fall Over And Die, Feel Old And Die, Flit/Fly Off And get the idea).

Answer: Approach any regional communication authority around the world. Say: "I have created a transceiver which broadcasts at random on any frequency from VHF radio right up to UWB and Id like it licensed, please!"

Contrary to what a lot of technology companies--including Intel--seem to imagine, the world of radio spectrum isnt governed by the FCC. There are, for some unaccountable reason, a lot of sovereign states around the globe. Each of them, incredibly, seems to feel it is entitled to regulate wireless spectrum allocations in its territory--subject to international treaty, of course, and some of the time. Perhaps.


Read Guy Kewneys thoughts on Intels WiMax plans.

I still recall the consternation I caused once, in Fiji. I had, coincidentally, just written an opinion piece on Motorolas doomed satellite phone system, Iridium. It was designed (they said) to provide the world with something it already had--a phone system that would work anywhere on the planet.

At the time, I was en route from LA to Auckland, New Zealand. The plane stopped unexpectedly (landing gear problems) at Fiji and, as we came in to the strip, I noticed "Vodafone" painted in 20-foot high letters on the terminal building roof. So naturally, I pulled out my Vodafone cellphone and called our friends in Auckland to warn them that wed be late, and they should have breakfast at home. Then I switched the phone off, and had one of those Bateman moments. You know, when you suddenly realise that youve innocently said or done something that has attracted every eye on the planet... and you cant work out what.

Then a fellow passenger (American accent) asked, cautiously: "How do you happen to have a Fiji phone?"

I tried to explain GSM and it was clear he didnt believe me. Neither, it seemed, did Iridiums investors.

Well, Intel isnt going to make that mistake.

Next page: Can Intel dance its dance in world markets?