Intel u-turned, then knocked out WiMAX in the UK

We felt a little bit sorry for Intel after Nokia left it in the dark, with the Elop/Ballmer alliance arguably leaving the joint MeeGo project out in the cold. Perhaps, though, it is having a taste of its own medicine, having done the same thing to a UK Pipex partner which was after funding and a commitment on WiMAX – Freedom4.

Intel had, we have heard, given a solid commitment to comms company Freedom4. It offered figures in the hundreds of millions to get WiMAX out and the popular choice in the UK. Around the time it was telling Taiwan that it was considering LTE, Intel pulled money out immediately and dropped it like it’s hot.

Out at Mobile World Congress, swathes of business folk we asked agree that LTE has already won the war and Intel is keen to rub out its links to WiMAX. Sprint, the only WiMAX provider in the US, is also considering a move, according to reports. 

In September, Intel gave a heavy nod to WiMAX, announcing a partnership with Korean brand KT to accelerate the adoption of Wibro branded services based on WiMAX technology in South Korea.

Intel delayed giving an official answer to the Taiwanese ministry of industry and the government before Otellini hinted that, yes, LTE is an option in November.Intel also threw cash at a Munich based LTE firm, by way of the wireless division of Infineon, around the same time.

Although many are, when public facing, suggesting that WiMAX should be taken deadly seriously it seems analysts over at IHS iSuppli are predicting only a few more coffin nails before it’s put back on the shelf forever.

According to the IHS Suppli’s research, widespread mobile network operator (MNO) adoption means LTE will have over nine times as many subscribers as WiMAX as soon as 2014.  

LTE will be deployed far and wide over the next two years and overtake WiMAX by 2012. By 2014, LTE subscribers are predicted to hit 303.1 million – compared to WiMAX’s expected 33.4 million.

A Qualcomm senior executive nodded when TechEye asked if Intel had “backed the wrong horse”.

Other, unnamed executives from different companies laughed: “Of course”.

TechEye made contact with Freedom4 to see what it had to say, but the company is currently in the middle of being bought by another communications group, Daisy Communications, which also declined to comment due to legalities surrounding the acquisition. That said, what’s left of Freedom4’s website still lists Intel as a “technology partner”. Sometimes no comment says it all.

We contacted both Intel’s in-house and external public relations team. At the time of going to press, and despite numerous attempts at contact, it has failed to respond.