Intel conducted a live demonstration of its WiMax broadband wireless
capability for attendees of Interop Tuesday, offering high-speed Internet
access over a 500-square-mile area around Las Vegas.
The demonstration included live audio and video wireless feeds into the
Mandalay Bay conference center where Interop is being held, as well as 12
miles into the desert, out to a golf course near the city's southern edge
and into a mobile home traveling down the fabled Las Vegas strip.
Although wind in the desert location caused the audio signal there to break
up, Sean Maloney, general manager of Intel's mobility group, said the
signals were generally "spectacular," running at speeds of 7Mbit/sec. or
The technology was based on Intel's PRO/Wireless 5116 broadband interface
running on hardware from Tel Aviv-based Alvarion, Maloney said. Alvarion
provides WiMax-ready hardware called BreezeMAX 3500 for service providers in
France and Spain.
Maloney said the WiMax signal was transmitted from laptop computers
communicating with an Alvarion base station at the Stratosphere. The laptop
gear used in the demonstration is still being perfected by a variety of
companies, he said.
Such networks are already under development in Korea and Japan, and a
downtown WiMax network in Tokyo is expected to be fully operational in six
months, Maloney said.
In comments to reporters, Maloney said U.S. engineers have helped make WiMax
effective. But other countries have been faster to implement it because they
have available wireless spectrum that the U.S. has not provided. Although
the U.S. Federal Communications Commission understands the need for more
spectrum for uses such as WiMax, that spectrum has not yet been released. He
said between 60MHz and 100MHz of spectrum is needed, "and more beyond that."
WiMax is likely to serve as an adjunct to more traditional Wi-Fi hot spots,
both public and private, and will be used to fill in areas not served by
WiFi or to provide back haul connections to conventional networks, Intel
officials said. Asked whether telephone providers in the U.S. might balk at
the idea of WiMax proliferation, which could provide cheap voice-over-IP
services to a variety of customers, Maloney said that some Asian carriers
have added wireless and Wi-Fi to round out their service offerings.
"Service providers are understandably twitchy," he said. The proper response
should be to "reach customers in the best way."