WiMAX promises to transform wireless Internet world

As US technology giants including Google place a multi-billion dollar bet on WiMAX, backers of the wireless data-streaming format say it will radically change mobile Internet use.

A WiMAX network of the kind to be deployed across the United States by a joint venture dubbed Clearwire may render cable or phone line Internet obsolete and set the stage for free Google mobile telephones supported by advertising.

“It is like mobile Internet in your pocket,” said Scenna Pabesh, a spokeswoman for nonprofit WiMAX Forum, an industry group that promotes interoperability of networks and devices using the format.

“Anything you could imagine doing in your office or on a hefty Internet connection at home you are going to be able to do on the go.”

WiMAX is deployed in 110 countries and Wednesday’s unveiling of Clearwire should ensure the United States joins those ranks, according to Pabesh.

The Asian Pacific region leads in WiMAX adoption. South Korea is considered a “success model” with 150,000 people, most of them in Seoul, subscribing to WiMAX mobile services, she said.

WiMAX quickly moves large amounts of digital data such as video or picture files across kilometres, as compared to Wi-Fi connections available in cyber cafes or other “hot spots” where signals reach a few hundred meters or less.

“It is really Wi-Fi on steroids, but the trick is getting it rolled out,” Silicon Valley analyst Rob Enderle told AFP.

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