updated 02:15 pm EDT, Tue September 25, 2007
Moto WiMAX Chipset
Motorola today backed its wi4 WiMAX efforts with the company's first truly mobile WiMAX chipset, allowing its devices and other companies to use the Intel wireless technology in a handheld. The unnamed processor is small enough to fit in tighter environments but also consumes less power at 4G (fourth-generation) speeds than the hardware for today's 3G connections, such as EVDO or HSDPA. It also supports MIMO (multiple-in, multiple-out) antenna setups to pick up signals at very long distances or at higher speeds when space allows. WiMAX in handhelds using the chip would offer multi-megabit, "DSL or cable-like" speeds, according to Motorola.
Motorola itself plans to release WiMAX devices in 2008 for multiple providers, which includes Sprint's upcoming Xohm. The company did not name the types of devices but is widely believed to be offering smartphones as part of the launch. Whether the Motorola hardware would be licensed to third parties was unknown.
The development may provide Sprint with an advantage over other carriers in the US and a greater advantage to Motorola internationally when it counters other data-heavy phones, particularly the iPhone. While WiMAX is not tied to any phone network and has been embraced by handset makers such as Sony-Ericsson, Apple's US partner AT&T is currently set on using the less universal Long-Term Evolution (LTE) 4G standard and may resist attempts to support WiMAX in the cellphone.