Intel expects WiMAX deployment to increase rapidly over the next year as the company projects that 800 million people worldwide will have access to the technology by the end of 2010.
Intel chief sales and marketing office Sean Maloney said that the WiMAX Forum industry group estimates that WiMAX coverage will nearly double its current reach of 430 million people by the end of next year. Maloney said that one of the major reasons for the rapid expansion will be new spectrum licenses that are due to be allocated in Brazil and India, two countries with large populations that are underserved by broadband Internet access.
The projections were part of a flurry of WiMAX-related news that Intel discussed in advance of the Mobile World Congress exhibition slated to kick off next week in Barcelona. The other big piece of news is that Intel and telecom equipment provider Huawei are teaming up to form an interoperability testing lab whose goal is “to boost the speed of interoperability and delivery of commercial-ready WiMAX devices” around the globe. The lab will simulate an end-to-end test environment and will use Huawei's WiMAX base stations its access service node gateways to conduct tests of WiMAX devices.
Maloney also said that Intel had helped recruit Huawei and Alvarion to join its WiMAX Open Patent Alliance (OPA), the consortium of companies that hold WiMAX 4G mobile broadband technology patents that will act as the official patent holder for companies that want to purchase WiMAX licenses. The OPA, which was officially founded last June, also includes tech heavyweights such as Cisco, Intel, Alcatel-Lucent, Samsung and Sprint.
As he has done in the past, Maloney sought to downplay much of the media buzz over whether WiMAX will be able to successfully compete with future 4G mobile broadband standards such as Long-Term Evolution. Maloney emphasized that unlike LTE, WiMAX is here today and that it will have upgraded to the 802.16m, or “WiMAX 2.0,” standard by the time LTE services are widely available.