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Big-name vendors lined up to offer WiMAX laptops

But not the biggest

IDF Acer, Asus, Lenovo, Panasonic and Toshiba have all committed themselves to offering 'Montevina' Centrino laptops with on-board WiMAX wireless broadband support, Intel said today.

Intel will ship Montevina in May 2008, the chip giant's CEO, Paul Otellini, revealed today. He also re-stated the company's belief that WiMAX, not HSUPA/HSDPA-augmented 3G, is the wireless technology that will bring mobile broadband to the masses.

By 2012, he forecast, some 1.3bn people worldwide will regularly find themselves within range of a WiMAX basestation, up from 750m in 2010 and 150m in 2008, though he conceded that the vast majority of the latter will be in the US. However, some 120 WiMAX trials are going on worldwide, including a new project in Japan co-funded by Intel and KDDI.

Otellini described WiMAX as the "new global network" that will deliver "seamless roaming... "hopefully". His choice of words doesn't inspire confidence...

Getting WiMAX into laptops will be crucial, Intel believes, and that we'll have to wait until mid-2008 and Montevina's debut. It will incorporate the 'Cantiga' chipset, with an updated LAN chip, 'Boaz'. 'Echo Peak', 'Dana Point' and 'Shiloh' will provide wireless connectivity. Echo Peak combines Wi-Fi and WiMAX - 'Dana Point' is Intel's planned WiMAX-only module. Shiloh is an 802.11n-only add-in.

How readily availble will be WiMAX laptops from the named manufacturers remains to be seen, and the list lacks some major names in the laptop market: where's HP, Dell and Apple, for instance?

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