Intel Debuts First WiMAX Chip

Intel began shipping its first ever processor that taps into the wireless standard 802.16 or WiMAX, the company said Monday.

At separate press events in Washington DC, London and Shanghai, the chipmaker is expected to introduce its Intel PRO/Wireless 5116 broadband interface device. Previously known as Rosedale, the chip is designed for wireless modems and residential gateways. Prices were not disclosed by press time.

Also on 802.16 at ENP

  • 802.16: A Look Under the Hood
  • 802.16: The Future in Last Mile Wireless Connectivity
  • Proxim and Intel Scramble the WiMax Gear
  • WiMax: How Far Ahead of the Curve is Too Far?

  • The processor’s radio features an OFDM physical layer (define) , an integrated 10/100 media access controller, inline security processing and a time division multiplexing controller interface for handling applications such as VoIP (define) .

    It also offers a programmable architecture that makes it easier for equipment makers to add additional applications on top of the chip.

    Intel said it will market the new device to equipment manufacturers and carriers. Several equipment providers such as Airspan, Alvarion, Aperto Networks, Axxcelera Broadband Wireless, Gemtek, Huawei, Proxim, Redline Communications, Siemens Mobile, SR Telecom and ZTE are expected to announce WiMAX-based devices based on Intel’s product. In addition, Intel said several service providers will announce plans to begin commercial WiMAX trials based on Intel silicon products later this year.

    “As a standards-based, high-speed Internet access solution, WiMAX can provide the platform for the next generation of Internet expansion, connecting the next billion Internet users,” Scott Richardson, general manager of Intel’s Broadband Wireless Division, said in a statement.

    802.16 (define) is considered the next step beyond Wi-Fi because it is designed to cover a wide area network for broadband operations. The wireless standard already includes numerous advances that are slated for introduction into the 802.11 standard, such as quality of service, enhanced security, higher data rates, and mesh and smart antenna technology allowing better utilization of the spectrum.

    Intel also touts WiMAX as a last mile alternative to remote areas not currently served by DSL or cable, as well as making it possible to wirelessly connect buildings up to several miles apart.

    The opportunity for 802.16 equipment is forecast to reach a value of approximately $1 billion in 2008, according to a recent study by Visant Strategies. The report, entitled 802.16/WiMAX Technologies: World Market Forecasts 2003-2008, found last mile access will be the first application for 802.16a, but mobility will follow via 802.16e.

    The research suggests WiMAX is considered a migration path to 4G, but more likely to be used by holders of Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) spectrum rather than mobile carriers. The 802.16a protocol is also expected to play a role in outdoor and private networks, the extension of hot spots, and backhaul applications that lack line-of-sight.

    Some of the carriers working with Intel to enable a broad ecosystem around WiMAX include AT&T, Altitude Telecom, British Telecom, Brasil Telecom, ETB out of Columbia, Iberband, Millicom, Qwest, Sify, Speakeasy, Telkom, Telmex, TowerStream, and UHT out of the Ukraine.

    In addition, Intel said several equipment manufacturers have announced their own products based on the Intel PRO/Wireless 5116 broadband interface. Airspan, Alvarion, Aperto Networks, Axxcelera Broadband Wireless, Gemtek, Huawei, Proxim Corporation, Redline Communications, Siemens Mobile, SR Telecom and ZTE are among those partnering with Intel.

    For example, Aperto said it is using Intel’s WiMAX silicon technology and System-on-Chip (SoC) architecture into its consumer customer premises equipment, for the 3.5 GHz, 2.5 GHz and 5 GHz frequency bands.

    Aperto said it would also use the Intel chip for its consumer-class customer premises equipment as well

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