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Motorola Expands Its WiMax Equipment Lineup

The CPEi 100 will be available this year to WiMax network operators that have deployed systems in the 2.5-GHz band.

Motorola on Thursday added the CPEi 100 to its portfolio of WiMax customer premises equipment, designed to bring high-speed Internet connectivity to wireless broadband users.

The CPEi 100 is a 2.5-GHz device that sits on a desktop and interfaces between a computer and a WiMax network. It's now part of Motorola's portfolio of WiMax 802.16e (mobile WiMax) products called MOTOwi4, which includes everything from WAP 400 series WiMax access points with multiple input/multiple output capabilities to WiMax desktop devices like the CPEi 200 and CPEi 400 series to WiMax PC cards.

"Performance and ease of use are essential to motivate consumers to upgrade to higher-performance wireless broadband technologies. The CPEi 100 provides that experience and enables WiMax operators to offer a home device that consumers can install and set up in only a matter of minutes," said Fred Wright, Motorola's senior VP of cellular networks and broadband, in a statement.

The CPEi 100 will be available this year to WiMax network operators that have deployed systems in the 2.5-GHz band, said Motorola. Consumer Electronics Show attendees will be able to preview the device in Las Vegas next week.

Last January, Sprint awarded Motorola with a contract to build a WiMax network in Chicago, while also selecting Samsung for WiMax infrastructure in the Washington, D.C., area.

Sprint initially said it would invest about $5 billion over the next couple of years in deploying the wide area high-speed wireless technology, also known as fourth generation or 4G. But Sprint seems to have shifted its plans recently; acting CEO Paul Saleh told investors that the carrier is considering selling its stake in the WiMax network it has been building. What company or entity Sprint would sell its WiMax network to remains a mystery.

Despite Sprint's uncertainty in the United States, there are more than 50 commercial deployments of WiMax under way and it's being considered as the technology of choice for worldwide 4G implementations, according to ABI Research.

A recent JuniperResearch report found that the top WiMax markets will be the United States, Japan, and South Korea. But the technology's success will depend on the emergence of low-cost laptops and the inclusion of broadband capability in a range of devices, such as portable media players and game consoles.

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