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By JOHN MARKOFF,
In an effort to create a global wireless alternative to cable and telephone Internet service, Intel said on Monday that it would collaborate with Clearwire, a wireless broadband company, in developing and deploying the new technology. The companies said that Intel would make a "significant” investment in Clearwire, which has begun building long-range wireless data networks around the world. Clearwire, founded by Craig O. McCaw, a pioneer of the cellular industry, said in August that it had raised $160 million from 23 investors in a private stock transaction. The companies are betting that a new wireless technology called WiMax – which is intended to extend the reach of Wi-Fi wireless networks by permitting a single transceiver to connect hundreds or thousands of customers to the Internet over distances of many miles – will succeed where other long-range wireless data technologies have failed in the past.
Intel is spending $150 million to jumpstart WiMax technology by creating a series of new chips designed to support the WiMax standard. Clearwire recently began offering wireless Internet service in Jacksonville, Fla., for about $25 a month.
During a news conference on Monday, Mr. McCaw said that Clearwire was moving more quickly to deploy the service in major cities in Canada and Mexico and that it was also active in developing countries like Bangladesh. The company said that it could be in as many as 20 American markets next year, but Mr. McCaw said getting access to radio spectrum was more difficult in this country than in Canada and Mexico. He also said that Clearwire could succeed at offering high-speed wireless Internet access where others have failed, in part because it hoped to take advantage of Intel’s efforts to create a global technology standard. "We are tempered by the fact that everyone who has tried this has failed," Mr. McCaw said, "but we’re crossing the river on the backs of pioneers." During the 1990’s there were a number of efforts to provide Internet access wirelessly both in urban and rural areas in the United States, but they have all failed financially. Intel executives said on Monday that they believed that by creating a single global standard for WiMax technology, wireless access could become an alternative to digital subscriber lines and cable.