Intel's CEO Says WiMAX Competitive With DSL, Cable

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Intel Corp. Chief Executive Craig Barrett said on Friday that new wireless high-speed data technologies would be competitive with Internet links provided by cable and phone companies.

Intel, the world's largest chip maker, is pushing WiMAX, which would provide high speed data over areas as large as a small city, as a way to spread cheap yet ubiquitous wireless broadband access. Intel is hoping to replicate the success it had in popularizing the short-range wireless WiFi standard popular in airports and coffee shops.

In a conference call with Reuters reporters, Barrett said most telephone digital subscriber lines and cable broadband connections were not fast enough.

"Most of us who have DSL or cable at home do not have good broadband but kind of half-ass broadband, which doesn't really allow for good streaming video or that kind of stuff," he said.

Few home broadband connections today offer higher download speeds than five megabits per second, and Barrett said good broadband -- which would be capable of delivering high-quality video transmission -- should be able to move at least 10 megabits per second.

WiMAX, which should be capable of 50 megabits to 100 megabits per second, is "significantly better than what we typically look at with DSL and cable," Barrett said. "I think that will be very competitive with those technologies, and especially where those technologies aren't built out, in rural areas.

"Will it compete with wired access? Absolutely. Will it be perhaps the only broadband solution you have in some areas? Absolutely, especially in rural areas."

With Intel's muscle behind the WiMAX push, some 240 companies have joined the industry group developing WiMAX standards and equipment. Sprint Corp., and Intel said on Thursday they would cooperate on WiMAX tests.

Intel expects the first commercial trials of WiMAX early next year, with different variations of the technology for mobile users available for trials by early 2007.

Intel and others envision WiMAX equipment installed outside homes and business, linking up with base stations hosted by fixed-line telecommunications operators. A short-range, Wi-Fi signal, or perhaps an Ethernet cable, would bring the Internet to individual PCs in the home.

Copyright 2005 Reuters Limited.

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