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Microsoft Pri0

Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Matt Day.

October 9, 2006 at 12:29 PM

WiMax World next up

BOSTON — I just arrived in Boston in time for WiMax World, which kicks off tomorrow and perhaps is the largest gathering for the new and upcoming technology.

I would have posted this blog item while on the train, but my trusty Verizon Wireless EV-DO card, failed to work. It’s up and running now.

Here’s what you need to know about WiMax in order to get the context of what will be happening this week.

WiMax is similar to Wi-Fi in that it provides wireless broadband access, but it is distributed more like cellular technology. A signal is be broadcasted from a tower and cover an entire town — unlike Wi-Fi, which typically covers a single coffee shop. Plus, WiMax chips are supposed to be cheaper than cellular phone radios, allowing the technology to be included in laptops, handheld game players, cameras and all kinds of other devices..

In the past few months, the technology has progressed to a point where some major players are starting to make huge bets on it. Kirkland-based Clearwire and Sprint Nextel are both building national networks, and Intel and Motorola are backing the technology with a committment of hardware and billions of dollars.

The first day of the conference is tomorrow, but the big day is Wednesday when some of the industry leaders will keynote, including Sean Maloney of Intel, which is investing billions in the technology, and Ben Wolff, co-CEO of Clearwire, which was started by wireless guru Craig McCaw. After Wolff, Motorola Executive Vice President Gregory Brown will take the stage.

What a coincidence that those three will all talk one after another. Intel and Motorola were the lead investors in a $1 billion financing round that Clearwire received recently, Plus, Motorola purchased Clearwire’s equipment subsidary NextNet for an undisclosed sum.

What could they possibly say next?

On Wednesday, Wolff will also participate in a roundtable discussion called “The Clearwire Partnership and the Future of Wireless Broadband.” Sitting alongside him will be Motorola’s Brown and Scott Richardson, vice president of Intel’s mobility group.

Other sessions Wednesday will include WiMax in emerging countries, mobile TV and WiMax, and WiMax’s role in the triple and quadruple play.

On Thursday, the last day of the conference, keynoters include Berg Ayvazian, chief strategy officer of the Yankee Group; Ron Resnick, the WiMax Forum’s chairman, who will discuss whether mobile WiMax is ready for global deployment; and Peter MacKinnon, WiMax general manager of the LG-Nortel Joint Venture, who will be discussing 4G or the “Next G.”

Stay tuned for more.

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