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7/10/2006
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Brief: Intel Places $600 Million WiMax Bet With Clearwire Stake

Intel has emerged as WiMax's most-important backer. Motorola also joined the investment.

Intel put down another big bet on WiMax wireless broadband technology. With WiMax chip plans already in the works, Intel's venture capital arm invested $600 million in Clearwire, a wireless broadband company. While still a money-losing startup, Clearwire owns a good chunk of the U.S. wireless spectrum on which WiMax runs. This is Intel's second investment in the company. Motorola also invested an undisclosed amount and bought Clearwire's WiMax equipment-making subsidiary, NextNet Wireless. The $900 million total investment let Clearwire cancel a planned $400 million IPO.

Intel has emerged as WiMax's most important--and free-spending--supporter, as our cover story last week explored. The chipmaker plans to deliver by year's end a chipset called Rosedale 2 to ease access to WiMax from mobile computers, and it hopes to have chips that access WiMax and Wi-Fi networks ready by 2008. Such chips, plus WiMax equipment from the likes of Motorola, will be critical to the acceptance of the standard. Good friends for a fledgling wireless standard to have.

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