[qi:___wimax] Intel (s intc) has invested $43 million into Japanese WiMAX provider UQ Communications, as the chip giant continues its efforts to boost the mobile wireless broadband technology around the world. Compared with other forms of wireless broadband, such as the current 3G networks and coming Long Term Evolution networks provided by the cell carriers, WiMAX is an underdog, but Intel keeps sending it back into the ring with more money. It has invested almost $2 billion in WiMAX in the last four years.
This is partly because Intel would love to have a wireless technology that’s not controlled by the cell carriers, and is independent from the handset market, which hasn’t embraced Intel chips. As the world goes mobile, Intel needs to have its chips inside the devices people are carrying, rather than the ARM-based chips favored by the handset makers. Getting a few Intel-based netbooks into the carriers’ stores is good, but Intel would experience greater benefits by pushing WiMAX as an open system that’s available now. That’s the primary reason it has invested in Japan’s UQ Communications, a provider of mobile WiMAX. UQ will use the funding to continue expanding service in Japan. The company is aiming to provide WiMAX coverage to 90 percent of the country by 2012.
Intel has invested $1.725 billion in Clearwire (s clwr) to create a WiMAX network in the U.S., and has invested in operators in Egypt, The Netherlands, the U.K, Malaysia, Taiwan and Australia. It has even purchased spectrum in Sweden to further its WiMAX ambitions. It has funded startups pushing WiMAX technology such as WiMAX equipment vendor Navini Networks and provided capital for cell phone messaging service Aicent to ensure its service works with WiMAX. While some believe WiMAX operators have an opportunity to provide service that consumers will pay for in the developed and developing world, other reports make the technology’s potential seem far less than that of even current generation cellular technology. But with a backer like Intel, it looks like WiMAX won’t be allowed to fail.