Intel launches WiMAX chip

Interoperable kit by the end of the year, says WiMAX Forum

Intel has formally announced its first WiMAX product, a system-on-a-chip capable of receiving wireless broadband signals both inside and outside customer premises.

The ProWireless 5116 is fully compliant with the 802.16-2004 standard, Intel said, and is the first product of its kind to be "optimised for cost-effective modems and residential gateways", the chip-maker said. Products based on the part are expected to ship by the end of the year, having first gained interoperability certification from industry body the WiMAX Forum, which today conveniently announced just such a certification programme.

Formerly known by its codename, 'Rosedale', the 5116 is designed to maintain broadband connections between fixed antennae. Future versions of the product are expected to support the 802.16e specification, which adds support for mobile end-user kit. Last week, Intel pledged to "solve in silicon" the inherent incompatibilities between the 802.16e and 802.16-2004 specifications.

Meanwhile, the 5116 has already won the support of equipment makers, with the likes of Airspan, Alvarion, Aperto, Gemtek, Huawei, Proxim, Redline, Siemens and ZTE voicing their enthusiasm for Intel's new wireless chip. So too did a range of carriers, all looking to use WiMAX to extend the reach of their broadband offerings.

The WiMAX Forum's interoperability certification programme will operate out of its Malaga, Spain facility, and will open for business in July. It will take in the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) HiperMAN specification. All South Korean operators backing the local WiMAX-like WiBro system are now members of the Forum, which should ultimately ensure interoperability between these two technologies too.

The first WiMAX Forum Certified products are expected in the November/December timeframe, the Forum said. The Forum will initially certify equipment based on two profiles: Time Division Duplexing (TDD) and Frequency Division Duplexing (FDD) in the 3.5GHz frequency band with 3.5MHz channelisation. Based on market demand and vendor product submissions, more profiles will be added in 2006, it said. The Forum promised all future enhancements to the baseline profiles will support backward compatibility. ®

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