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Today Intel Corp. (s INTC) said it would add HSPA cellular connectivity to its Moorsetown chipsets, slated to hit mobile Internet devices in 2010. Coming from a firm that has spent billions pushing WiMAX, the news reads like an admission of doubt for the nascent 4G wireless broadband network build out by Sprint and Clearwire — but it’s really just a recognition that wireless broadband is so central to user experience that having multiple options makes sense.
This is great news for all of us waiting for truly ubiquitous broadband, especially since Intel previously abandoned an idea to put some sort of 3G radios in its Centrino laptops back in 2007, saying customers weren’t too hot on the technology. As for WiMAX, Intel will offer that for Moorestown too, but it will be a while before WiMAX has the coverage options required to support users traveling outside of a few WiMAX enabled cities.
Wi-Fi didn’t skyrocket to popularity overnight, and neither will WiMAX, so any smart chip firm will build multiple radios into its chipsets in order to make OEMs happy. What the announcement should be read as is continuing confirmation that ubiquitous broadband is here to stay — and that Intel means to really compete with cellular chipmakers in the MID market.
Ericsson provides the 3.5G radio platform for Moorestown, which in addition to data could offer voice, expanding the range of gadgets into which Intel could sell the Moorestown chips. We’ve already covered how nebulous this market for larger-than-a-phone, smaller-than-a-laptop devices is, so it makes sense that Intel’s offering as many options as possible.