Intel injects $37m into Unwired WiMax

Intel injects $37m into Unwired WiMax

Intel has given wireless broadband provider, Unwired, $37 million to advance the rollout of WiMax in Australia.

Under the agreement, both companies will promote mobile wireless broadband over WiMax, while Unwired will also use the funds to extend its own network across the country.

The cash injection was made through the chipmakers venture capital division, Intel Capital.

With the addition of carrier-grade equipment from US provider, Navini Networks, and a WiMax standard on the horizon, Unwired was ready to invest in national infrastructure, CEO, David Spence, said.

"We have always worked on the premise that those things needed to be in place before we rolled out further capital expenditure," he said. "The investment from Intel plugs us into the heart of WiMax development in Australia."

With a national network in place, Unwired would look build itself up as the leading source of carriage for VoIP providers, Spence said.

"We already have Freshtel, engin, Skype and Vonage," he said. "With WiMax and the potential of converged devices there will be many more VoIP services running on our networks."

For Intel, partnering with Unwired was attractive because of its expertise, growing customer base and access to the designated 3.5GHz and 2.3GHz licensed bands. A successful partnership would also form a deployment model for use in other countries.

A successful rollout of WiMax - with its 70Mbps capability and 35km range - would also promote uptake of its current and future mobility platforms, general manager, Philip Cronin, said.

"By 2007 we will have Centrino systems with WiMax embedded on the board in much the same way as Centrino currently has Wi-Fi," he said.

The deal is also significant in light of industry rumours that Intel is considering the introduction of a new mobile phone platform.

"Intel isn't on record as stating we will have mobile phone processor capabilities, but we are working hard with carriers and companies like Nokia," Cronin said. "You will definitely see more devices coming onto the network, but our focus today is on notebooks and tablets."

Intel would not say whether it planned to grant additional funding to Unwired or similar companies.

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