Intel backs off WiMAX industry, dismisses WiMAX Program Office, say sources
Irene Chen and Bryan Chuang, Taipei; Steve Shen, DIGITIMES [Thursday 1 July 2010]
Intel has announced in an internal meeting it will dissolve its WiMAX Program Office, which was set up to promote the development of related WiMAX technologies, according to industry sources in Taiwan. Intel did not inform Taiwan's Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA), which has signed a WiMAX cooperation MOU with Intel, as well as other partners in Taiwan in advance.
Staff members of the WiMAX Program Office will be incorporated into Intel's Mobile Wireless Group (MWG), PC Client Group (PCCG), or Sales and Marketing (SMG) unit, depending on their skills.
However, vice economic minister Huang Jung-chiou said in an exclusive interview with Digitimes that Intel's decision to back off from the WiMAX industry does not mean an end to Taiwan's WiMAX industry.
While Intel is focusing on the development of WiMAX chips, other international players have committed to development of related equipment and services, and those players may not necessary follow suit to withdraw from the segment, Huang commented.
Additionally, the WiMAX industry chain is well established in Taiwan with a pool of talent and sufficient technologies, and Taiwan-based WiMAX makers still have an option to migrate to LTE, said Huang, noting that the MOEA will hold a meeting with Taiwan makers to discuss possible strategies to cope with the new situations arising from Intel's withdraw from the segment.
Most Taiwan-based WiMAX operators and CPE makers said they were surprised at Intel's move but declined to comment before Intel makes an official announcement. However, they agreed with said industry watchers in saying that Intel should offer an explanation to the MOEA and other partners, otherwise the government may shift its focus to cooperate with ARM, AMD and other platform solution vendors for future development of IT products and technologies.
Intel responded pointing out that WiMAX has evolved considerably since Intel launched the WiMAX Program Office five years ago. WiMAX is now a mature technology with a history of accomplishments and strong support from ecosystem partners.
Intel said "[it] is integrating its WPO into various platform, product and sales organizations as part of a normal course of business today. The progress of WiMAX leads to this organizational transition as a normal process that takes place as new technologies mature and become a standard part of existing computing platforms.
"Intel continues to be one of the biggest supporters of WiMAX. WiMAX is our preferred 4G technology for delivering high-speed wireless broadband for data devices, and this organizational change in no way impacts our commitment to WiMAX. We are excited for the growth ahead with WiMAX in 2010 and 2011 where millions of WiMAX devices will make their way into the hands of end users."