updated 03:10 pm EST, Fri December 21, 2007
Japan grows WiMAX
Two Japanese companies have won licenses that should see WiMAX take firmer hold in the world, Reuters reports. Government officials have granted licenses to a group led by KDDI, Japan's second-largest cellular provider, and Willcom, a company controlled by the US-based Carlyle Group. KDDI is partnering with Intel and phone maker Kyocera, and plans to use WiMAX to launch a new broadband service in 2009; Willcom will follow suit with a similar service in the same timeframe. KDDI notes though that its venture will be expensive, costing as much as $1.3 billion by the end of 2013.
While WiMAX is often marketed simply as a 4G data technology for cellphones, it may eventually come to replace Wi-Fi for some people. Despite not always being as fast, WiMAX can be used anywhere within cellular range, including high-speed vehicles. Its deployment is still extremely rare, however: America's Sprint recently began one of the first commercial WiMAX networks, Xohm, but even this is currently limited to the cities of Baltimore, Chicago and Washington DC.