Mobile phone and network firm Nokia last week made a surprise U-turn, admitting that it plans to rejoin the WiMax Forum wireless broadband standards group it co-founded, only a month after pulling out of the organisation.
The Forum was set up last April to help accelerate the introduction of an IEEE 802.16 broadband wireless access equipment standard, aimed at speeding up last-mile broadband deployment.
But Nokia's absence from the organisation is set to be short. Speaking at Nokia's Connections 2004 event in Helsinki last week Sari Baldauf, general manager of Nokia's networks division, downplayed the reasons behind the orignial decision to leave.
"The reason we dropped out is because it had very little to do with what our people are doing at the moment, but it should not be seen as a rejection of the technology," he said.
Pertti Korhonen, chief technology officer at Nokia, also stressed during his presentation that the original decision was in no way "an indication of non-commitment to WiMax".
"It is an interesting technology but it waits to be seen what markets it will become successful in," he added.
Nokia's decision to rejoin the WiMax Forum may have been influenced by BT and France Telecom both deciding to become members of the standards body, commented Richard Webb, directing analyst of wireless local area networks at Infonetics Research.
"When three or four significant service providers, like BT and France Telecom, join up, then of course Nokia is doing the right thing, as it can't really afford to ignore it anymore," he said.
"Once wireless Lan goes up a gear to wireless wide area network and looks in infrastructure terms like cellular technology, then Nokia will get more involved."
WiMax is expected to improve the availability of wireless broadband by extending it over a range of 30 miles with speeds of up to 70Mbps.
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