Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Intel Wants Nationwide WiMAX To Top President Obama's Tech Initiatives

Posted by Tom Foremski - January 8, 2009

Intel, the world's largest chipmaker, wants affordable high speed wireless broadband to top US technology initiatives, said Craig Barrett, Intel chairman at a meeting at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

Intel has made significant investments in WiMAX technology, a wireless high-speed broadband technology that can potentially provide inexpensive Internet access to consumers and businesses over large distances without the need for local wifi antennas.

WiMAX will become integrated into future Intel chipsets in the same way that WiFi technology has become a standard part of its desktop and notebook products. However, there needs to be a substantial WiMAX infrastructure to take advantage of the WiMAX chipsets.

Mr Barrett has provided advice to President Bush on technology initiatives, and he and other industry executives are likely to do the same for President-elect Barack Obama administration, and whoever is appointed to a newly created position of US "Chief Technology Officer (CTO)."

Intel is conducting a survey at CES to gauge support for WiMAX, and other technology initiatives, among US voters. The survey questions include:

How would you rank the following - with 1 being the most important and 3 being the least important - for the Obama Administration’s CTO regarding technology and broadband/Internet?

- Provide incentives to citizens to make fast, affordable, high-quality broadband deployment a reality for all Americans.

- Focus on federal initiatives that expedite the roll-out of wireless broadband technologies across entire cities.

- Advocate open spectrum policies that enable mobile carriers and manufacturers to make market-driven agreements to deploy next-generation wireless broadband technologies like WiMAX.

Intel Chief Technology Officer Justin Rattner will include the survey results in a letter he is planning to send to President Obama's CTO.

WiMAX could help make Internet access more affordable to larger numbers of people and help bridge a digital divide. It would also help spur sales of computers and servers for Intel, as well as for many other tech companies involved in building a national WiMAX infrastructure.

High-speed wireless Internet would also make it possible for many smaller companies to offer new types of services that require fast connections and help the US catch up with countries that already have a well developed infrastructure of high speed broadband.

(Intel is a sponsor of SVW)

Foremski's Take:

President elect Barack Obama and his advisors have proposed a stimulus package to boost an ailing economy that would invest in infrastructure projects. These would include new bridges, repairing roads, sewer systems, etc. It would make excellent sense to also invest in building a 21st century digital infrastructure.

In the same way that the US economy was helped by the building of a nationwide road and rail network, similar benefits can be realized from a nationwide high-speed digital network.

The US has fallen far behind other countries in terms of broadband speeds and availability. In Greece and Estonia, Internet access has been designated a basic human right and the government has a responsibility to ensure all its citizens have access to this resource.

While the US is unlikely to amend its constitution, a national grid of affordable digital highways, will be just as important as roads and railroads to the health of an economy. For example, inexpensive high speed connections would make it easier to implement distance learning programs, and telecommuting. This would save on travel and fuel costs and be beneficial to the environment. And there would be certainly be plenty of new types of applications and services developed on top of such a platform resulting in new jobs and new markets. A lot of SIlicon Valley companies have business models that rely on customers having easy and affordable Internet access.

WiMAX is one of the technologies that can make this possible and help break the duopoly control of the telcos and cable operators on consumer Internet access. More competition and faster Internet connections will contribute to a strong digital economy.

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Please see:

Research@Intel · Get Out the Tech Vote at CES

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