Intel is closing its WiMax Program Office in Taiwan

Workers from the office are being reassigned to Intel platform and product groups

Intel is closing down its WiMax Program Office in Taiwan and shifting employees from that group to other platform and products groups, a company spokesman said Thursday.

But the change has nothing to do with Intel walking away from WiMax, as some news reports have suggested.

The program office's main job was to promote the spread and use of WiMax wireless broadband technology, which competes against wireless technologies from the mobile phone industry that have been more widely deployed around the world. Intel hopes WiMax becomes an inexpensive way for people to surf the Internet wirelessly from just about anywhere. The technology is speedier than Wi-Fi and can cover a much broader range.

The promotion work the WiMax Program Office was tasked with is now largely done, according to Nick Jacobs, a spokesman for Intel in Singapore. The office's closure will free up its employees to take their WiMax expertise with them to other product groups within Intel, he said.

"It doesn't change our focus on WiMax -- in fact, it embeds our WiMax teams within the mainstream product groups, as a means to more rapidly commercialize WiMax," he said.

"Intel remains committed to WiMax," he added.

There are already more than 500 WiMax networks in 147 countries bringing broadband to over 10 million people, he said.

Intel has invested heavily in WiMax technology, including investments made through Intel Capital, its venture arm. The company aims to see WiMax spread so it can sell more microprocessors and other chips for mobile computing devices, such as laptops and tablets. The company has been an important backer of WiMax technology since early on, a fact that caused partner companies to become more serious about investing in WiMax networks and WiMax-related products.

The growing popularity of smartphones such as the iPhone, and people's desire to connect to the Internet wirelessly on mobile computing devices such as laptops and iPads has seen demand for wireless broadband spike over the past few years.

In Taiwan, Intel signed a memorandum of understanding with the government to promote WiMax and Taiwan has put a lot of resources into the technology. Several WiMax licenses have already been handed out to Taiwanese operators and networks are up and running on the island. The overall plan in Taiwan, the M-Taiwan plan, is for wireless broadband to reach every part of its population, from remote mountain villages to small outlying islands.

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Dan Nystedt

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