Intel Still Confident About WiMAX Investments

Intel seemed pretty jovial when it locked itself into a WiMAX-based future with a smattering of partners last year, and despite everything that has happened in the industry (and the economy) since, the company is still pretty elated about the whole deal. Publicly, at least.

After talking up its 32 nanometer processing technology this week, the company also fielded some questions in relation to its ties to Clearwire. As you may or may not know, Clearwire -- a WiMAX Internet provider -- is only active in Portland, Oregon and Baltimore, Maryland at the moment, and it doesn't take a financial expert to realize that two metropolitan areas isn't enough to prop up an entire ISP. On top of that, LTE has emerged as the industry choice for 4G networks, even though WiMAX is already deployed in certain locales. The support garnered by LTE, which isn't expected to launch anywhere in any real capacity until at least a year or so from now, has been rather amazing. Even though WiMAX had the jump in terms of time-to-market, it has remained largely unadopted across the industry.

Couple low adoption rates with a sluggish economy, and you've got questions on long-term viability. According to Intel's chief sales and marketing officer Sean Maloney: "[Clearwire has] a fat piece of capital to go out and build the network. They've got enough money to keep going for quite a while." Still, there's no denying that Clearwire CEO Ben Wolff feels that another $2 billion must be raised over the next few years in order to reach its optimal coverage goals, and it's certainly a long ways out from acquiring that. Mr. Maloney continued by remarking: "Obviously, the economic environment globally is tough for anyone building out new stuff, but the current build-out rate for Clearwire is pretty fast."

Only time will tell if WiMAX actually has a shot at garnering even a sizable piece of the 4G pie. Next week's Mobile World Congress should be a good measure of how many companies are looking towards it, and how many are glancing over at LTE. We don't have the most positive feeling about WiMAX's long-term future, but we suppose anything could happen if enough money is thrown at it.
Tags:  Intel, WiMAX, Clearwire, 4G