To be fair, I've heard a lot more about WiMAX at this 3GSM than I heard at last year's show. It seems that fixed WiMAX is close to reality, and even mobile has been discussed as a real future threat/opportunity - depending on whom you ask. But in this atmosphere of WiMAX acceptance, I have also seen a big chink in the WiMAX armor announced by none other than Intel itself. Long know to predict "mobile WiMAX chipsets integrated into laptops by 2007", Intel has made the move of partnering with the GSM Association to bundle another technology, SIM and 3G, onto laptops before 802.16e even gets off the ground. Naturally, Intel is ultimately not the company that chooses what to put in the laptop - the integrated radio chipsets will have to match the wireless WAN technologies that carriers deploy around the world. Intel's Sean Maloney spoke of 3G integration: "This will turn the notebook into a real multi-communications terminal, and the SIM into a real authentication vehicle for GSM, GPRS, EDGE, 3GSM, HSDPA and Wi-Fi networks." The Intel action begs the question: if other wireless broadband technologies get deployed first, and then bundled into laptops, what opportunity will be left for mobile WiMAX? In 2005, we said, "If WiMAX falters, is unduly delayed, or is beaten to mobility by some other technology (which appears to be happening), then at some point, Intel will simply abandon ship and adopt the other technology. I know that this seems impossible when you listen to the loving tones coming from Intel execs as they wax poetic about WiMAX, but that's exactly how they spoke about HomeRF until the day before they dumped it [for WiFi. Intel] will gladly sail whatever ship gets them to BWA town first."
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