Taiwan to sign WiMax pact with Intel, NEC, others

Taiwan will sign a pact next week to work on WiMax with multinationals such as Intel, NEC, Nortel and R&S.

The Taiwan government will sign a memorandum of understanding next week to work on WiMax technology and product development with multinationals including Intel, NEC, Nortel Networks and German WiMax tester Rohde & Schwarz.

The initiative is part of Taiwan's plan to become one of the largest producers of WiMax equipment in the world. The island is already positioning itself to be one of the fastest adopters of WiMax wireless broadband Internet connectivity outside of North America. Officials see the technology as a good way to spread broadband Internet access throughout the island, which includes remote mountain villages and sparsely populated outlying islands.

Taiwan often signs such agreements with multinationals to stimulate technology development on the island. Often, such deals offer incentives for companies to build R&D centers on the island focused on a certain technology, such as tax-free status, research grants, rent-free space in science parks and more. Officials plan to release more details at the 2007 WiMax Forum Taipei Showcase and Conference next week.

Earlier this week, officials pledged to spend US$1.22 billion to build out Taiwan's WiMax network over the next five years, including US$1 billion for a fiber optic backbone running down the length of the island and US$220 million for WiMax base stations and other equipment.

The island has been promoting its M Taiwan project, or Mobile Taiwan, to speed up Internet mobility and encourage companies on the island to invest more in building products for WiMax, 3G (third generation telecommunications) and other wireless technologies.

NEC has already announced that its equipment will be used by Taiwanese WiMax license winner Tatung next week in an ambulance test. The companies will show how a patient's vital signs such as heartbeat and blood pressure can be sent ahead to a hospital before the ambulance arrives via WiMax, allowing hospital workers to better prepare for the incoming emergency. The trial will run October 22-23, the companies said.

Taiwan held a WiMax license auction earlier this year to six companies, three each for the north and south of Taiwan. The three winners of southern Taiwan licenses were Far EasTone Telecommunications, Vastar Cable TV System and Tatung. For the north, the winners were Global On, First International Telecom, and a joint venture between Tecom and 3G network operator VIBO Telecom.

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