Motorola and Intel bet on WiMax

Intel and Motorola announced they will invest $900 million in Clearwire, a wireless Internet service provider, in hopes of speeding development of its high-speed, wide-range WiMax networking technology.

Clearwire is backing WiMax, a competitor to a networking technology from QUALCOMM.

WiMax is similar to WiFi networking, but it covers greater distances. A single WiMax base station could connect hundreds or potentially thousands of customers to the Internet over distances of many miles.

Intel is hoping that WiMax will have the same success as WiFi, and has already made a sizable investment in the technology in its own labs, the New York Times reported. Intel is working to build WiMax ability into the next version of its Centrino chipset by the end of 2007. It expects WiMax to merge into WiFi late in the decade.

Clearwire now offers WiMax service in 27 regions around the country, with about 18,000 subscribers in the United States and 11,500 in Belgium and Ireland. McCaw owns 47 percent of Clearwire's outstanding shares and controls 87 percent of the voting rights through a holding company.