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WiMAX gets EU harmonisation at 2.6GHz

Intel buys up Swedish airwaves

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The European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) has started the approvals process for WiMAX to be officially recognised as a 2.6GHz technology, though Intel's bid for Swedish airwaves provides more substantial evidence of deployment plans.

WiMAX - a technology which cleverly calls itself 4G despite only offering 3G speeds - can be used on a wide variety of frequencies. While historically governments might have sold spectrum on the basis of usage, that's no longer the case. So WiMAX could turn up anywhere.

The WiMAX Forum has been fighting hard to get 2.6GHz approved as an EU-wide standard for WiMAX, and blames the delay on a conspiracy of companies with interests in competing technologies who have managed to present "a handful of [ETSI] members who did not want to see it progressing", as one forum member explained it to Policytracker.

The forum had to fight to get WiMAX approved as a 3G standard at the World Radio Congress (WRC) last year, but the competition hasn't given up. "Having failed in their efforts to stop WiMAX being approved at WRC, the vendors continued to try and put a spanner in the works, albeit a different spanner, at the European level," claimed the same source.

"They have support from a few telcos, such as France Telecom, which have opted for competing technologies and are happy to see WiMAX hindered."

It's no secret that Intel has enormous interest in WiMAX succeeding, which explains why it chucked $1bn into Clearwire, not to mention Intel Capital Corporation sinking €17m into 50MHz of 2.6GHz spectrum in the recent Swedish auctions. The rest of the Swedish auction was all Frequency Division Duplexed, so less useful for WiMAX, and was bought up by local network operators.

In the UK, the 2.6GHz spectrum isn't up for auction until September - that should prove interesting. ®

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