Thu, Aug 05, 2010 - Page 12 News List

Intel reaffirms commitment to WiMAX development

By Jason Tan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Intel Corp yesterday said it was committed to WiMAX development in Taiwan, but added that CEO Paul Otellini had no immediate plans to visit, nor was he planning to hold a press conference to clarify the chipmaker’s WiMAX plans in Taiwan.

“Nothing has changed ... Intel is committed to WiMAX development,” Intel Taiwan’s country manager Jason Chen (陳立生) told reporters on the sidelines of a WiMAX event.

“Key Intel executives fly to Taiwan every three to four months [for business purposes,] we are not aware of Paul’s visiting schedule,” Chen said. “We don’t see ... a need to hold a press conference to have Paul speaking on the issue.”

Chen’s comments marked the chip giant’s first reply from a top executive after reports said it was withdrawing from WiMAX development.

The company confirmed early last month that it had incorporated its WiMAX Program Office into other divisions, spreading fear through the local market that it was downsizing WiMAX development, in which it is the key player.

The Taipei Computer Association (TCA, 台北市電腦公會) — which represents more than 4,000 local technology companies, including WiMAX equipment makers D-Link Corp (友訊) and Gemtek Technology Co (正文) — has expressed members’ concerns over Intel’s latest organizational adjustment.

The association said in a statement last month after a meeting with Intel that Otellini would likely talk further about the company’s WiMAX plan during his visit to Taiwan in October.

The meeting between TCA and Intel on WiMAX development was supposed to be on a non-disclosure basis because of business ethics, therefore Intel was surprised when TCA released the statement divulging the details of the meeting and then called on Intel to forge closer ties with local developers to push the 4G standard.

“I personally didn’t expect TCA to publicly disclose the meeting contents. However, TCA was at liberty to express its views,” Chen said.

Intel said it was encouraging WiMAX in Taiwan from helping establish the telecommunications network to promoting the uptake of related consumer electronic devices in the mass market.

Commenting on the rival Long-Term Evolution (LTE) standard, Chen said he didn’t see a mature infrastructure for LTE in the next two years.

“WiMAX is very competitive in terms of cost structure against the current 3.5G, but the cost structure for LTE may not be as competitive,” he said.

Vmax Telecom Co (威邁思), one of the nation’s six WiMAX operators in which Intel invests, yesterday rolled out a monthly subscription plan for local users by partnering with Asustek Computer Inc (華碩電腦).

The 10-inch WiMAX-embedded Asustek netbook — which is the market’s first — will be free for those who commit to a 24-month plan with a monthly fee of NT$999 (US$31).

There are only 1,000 netbooks up for grabs for the promotional rate, it said.

“Infrastructure for WiMAX is up and running now ... We hope our partnership with Asustek will create a WiMAX fad among consumers,” said Ruth Chang (張虹如), Vmax’s vice president and chief financial officer.

While the eventual winner of the two 4G standards is yet to be determined, she said WiMAX operators could always switch to LTE because both technologies share common ground.

“Our WiMAX license allows us to invest in WiMAX, but we are not limited only to WiMAX,” Chang said.

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