Hardware giants Intel and Nokia on Thursday announced a cooperation to accelerate the standardization and development of the wireless broadband technology known as WiMax.
The companies will collaborate on several efforts around WiMax: clients, infrastructure and market development.
This will include a joint effort to show wireless service providers that there is a place for mobile WiMax among existing third-generation and future fourth-generation cellular networks that potentially compete with WiMax, officials said.
Nokia and Intel Corp.s development plans focus on mobile WiMax, which allows for roaming among base stations, as opposed to fixed WiMax, which is considered a replacement for DSL and cable lines.
Intel officials have said that the U.S. market lies in mobile rather than fixed WiMax.
However, the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) has yet to ratify the mobile WiMax standard, known as 802.16e.
Ratification is due by the end of 2005, but products are not likely to hit the market before 2007.
Analysts and equipment vendors alike have said that it will take years before WiMax chipsets are inexpensive enough to embed in laptops, let alone handhelds.
“802.16e is going to take a little while,” said Ron Peck, director of business development for WiMax at Intel, in an interview last month. “But were bullish on 802.16e because, while the standard isnt done, its done enough that the silicon stards have occurred. Well see interoperability testing in the second half of 06, and well go from there.”
Nokia has long been a proponent of HSDPA (High Speed Download Packet Access), seen as a so-called “3.5G” technology.
The technology is an extension of the wideband CDMA technology, with theoretical throughput of up to 14.4 Mbps downstream and up to 5.8 Mbps in upstream mode.
HSDPA solutions are expected to hit the market in trials during 2005, and be more widely deployed during 2006. HSDPA is also expected to eventually spin off its own offshoot, HSUPA (High Speed Upload Packet Access).
While mobile WiMax and HSDPA are not necessarily competitors, some expect the technologies will be forced into the same space.
Both technologies are moving closer to market; Nokia has already demonstrated the technology, and has been asked by Kuwaits Wataniya to help deploy a HSDPA network there.
In February, Nokia and Sierra Wireless announced plans to develop and promote an end-to-end HSDPA solution.
Meanwhile, several U.S. and overseas carriers, including Towerstream and Alcatel, are already deploying “pre-standard” WiMax equipment.
Still, Nokia representatives said the companys interest lies solely in bringing as many solutions to market as possible, and allowing a breadth of choice for carriers and mobile operators.
“The long and the short of it is that weve been a member of the WiMax Forum for quite some time,” said Bill Plummer, vice president of external affairs for Nokia Americas in Washington, D.C.
“What were saying is that were collaborating with Intel on accelerating development of the WiMax mobile technology.
“From our perspective, we look at the world with a multiradio in mind,” Plummer added. “We see a variety of different and complementary solutions to offer operators a variety of spectrum choices.”