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Intel invests in WiMax roll-out in Malaysia

21 мая 2008

Intel said on Tuesday it would be involved in the first commercial roll-out of WiMax broadband technology in south-east Asia.

Craig Barrett, Intel’s chairman, told the Financial Times that the group, which has been at the forefront of promoting WiMax, had invested in Green Packet, the Malaysian technology company set to launch services next month.

Mr Barrett said the significance of the deal between Intel Capital, the venture capital investment arm of the chipmaker, and Green Packet was much greater than its size, initially MY$50m ($15m).

WiMax technology has been under development for years and has already been deployed in projects around the world. It promises to provide mobile internet access at desktop broadband speeds and is expected to spur the development of a wide range of new mobile services including video, search and location-based services.

Malaysia will be a “good test-bed” for WiMax because it combines emerging and sophisticated markets, and on account of the government’s “forward-looking and aggressive” attitude to the internet access, Mr Barrett said.

This matches Intel’s business model, which Mr Barrett described as “built around internet and rich content”.

“Rich content needs more processing power, so you need more connectivity and bandwidth to communicate back and forth,” he said. “It’s not that we’re tied to WiMax, it’s that we’re tied to continually increasing the bandwidth and connectivity.”

Intel has invested billions of dollars in 30 WiMax operators and infrastructure providers in the last few years, including $1bn of the $3.2bn that a consortium of companies is investing in a new venture in the US run by Sprint and Clearwire.

Mr Barrett acknowledged that, while WiMax will be relevant in mature markets for mobile connectivity, it is likely to be more successful in emerging markets that do not have widespread fixed line broadband infrastructure.

Technology companies such as Intel are increasingly looking to emerging market governments to reduce connectivity costs to make broadband internet more affordable.

Mr Barrett praised Malaysia because “they’re not treating [WiMax] as a government revenue source, they’re treating it as an economic catalyst”. He said it would take a year to assess whether WiMax develops critical mass in Malaysia.

Green Packet, listed on the Kuala Lumpur stock exchange, plans to launch its WiMax network next month in Malaysia through its subsidiary Packet One. It has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the project and is aiming for its network to cover 25 per cent of Malaysia’s population by the end of the year. Three other Malaysian companies are due to follow within months.

Sudheer Kumar Kuppam, of Intel Capital, said the investment would be made through a convertible bond that will become equity in four years.
Further investments in Green Packet will be made if undisclosed benchmarks

Источник: Financial Times

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