By 2005 consumers will be able to subscribe to a wireless data plan that delivers digital subscriber line-like performance using WiMax technology, Intel's Sean Maloney has predicted.
WiMax - the popular name of the IEEE 802.16 wireless standard - has a range of up to 31 miles and allows data transfer speeds of up to 75Mbps. Networks created with the technology are commonly referred to as 'wireless metropolitan area networks'.
The standard will succeed because it is open and has enough industry support, said Maloney, executive vice president and general manager of Intel's communications group.
"WiMax looks real," he said. But he warned that too much optimism could lead to over-hyping. "It's very difficult to control. We try not to talk too much about it," he added.
But Maloney sees last week's decision by the Korean government to mandate 802.16e as the high-speed portable connection protocol as a tell-tale sign. "The Korean government has traditionally been a mover and a shaker in implementing [new technologies]," he said.
Using WiMax for wireless DSL makes sense now that there is no capital to invest in putting fibre or copper wires in the ground. "Not because the cost of the fibre, [but] because [of] the nominal cost of getting property access," he said.
In addition to WiMax being used for wireless DSL by next year, Maloney expects WiMax radio chips to be small enough for use in laptop computers by 2006 and in mobile phones by 2007.
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