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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 March 2006, 12:08 GMT
Intel speeds up Wimax plan
Woman using laptop at a train station
Wimax could have benefits for rural users
Intel says it will bring forward the rollout of its new scheme for long-range wireless internet access.

Cards allowing access to Wimax (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) are now expected to be available this year.

Wimax is billed as a successor to the much shorter range wi-fi technology.

Whereas wi-fi range can be measured in yards, Wimax could potentially reach a few kilometres in cities and 16km (10 miles) in open country.

Analysts suggest the Wimax technology could be particularly helpful in rural areas, where broadband coverage can be limited.

It could also have a great impact in developing countries where internet access is not always widely available.

Chip-maker Intel had intended to have Wimax cards for sale in 2007, but will now have them for laptops in the second half of 2006.

Costs down

Senior Intel executive Sean Maloney made the announcement at a company conference.

"The cost is coming down significantly while the volume is coming up significantly," he said.

Spain and India are currently conducting Wimax pilot schemes.

Mr Maloney said work was already in progress on a chip that would merge Wimax and wi-fi.

"Over a period of three years or so, these two technologies essentially will merge," he said.

There is already Wimax capability in the UK, with provider Telabria having established a network in Kent.

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