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Intel set to introduce sub-$400 WiMAX laptop

India's Business Standard and Economic Times have both recently investigated claims by Intel that it can help provide India with WiMAX-enabled laptops for under US$400, if not for as little as US$300. Source of the claim is Intel India's newly appointed Managing Director for its WiMAX Division, C S Rao. Mr Rao stated: "Intel believes a WiMAX-ready laptop could be available in the Indian market at around US$300 - US$400 dollars in a few months."

The sums quoted would help Intel build up its markets in urban and rural areas. At present, more than six million wireless subscribers are signing on in India every month. In turn Intel is confident that around 8% of these new subscribers will be attracted to WiMAX. Its estimate of the value of the Indian WiMAX market is put at US$4.8 billion, an indication of the attention that Intel will be paying to this opportunity. What is more, Intel believes that a US$300-US$400 can help bridge the Digital Divide. In Mr Rao's words: "Among the two services, Wimax has more potential as it would help the country bridge the digital divide. We estimate the market has the potential to reach $5 billion in the next three years."

Cooperation with manufacturers is vital if a low-cost laptop is to appear; those mentioned include Dell, Acer and Asus (the latter, a Taiwanese manufacturer, is already offering a WiMAX notebook for US$400). Intel itself is leading into specifically WiMAX-oriented products, eg, Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs), USB variants, and other types of WiMAX notebook.

The last word is Mr Rao's, this time looking at competition from 3G: “3G has the capability to offer high-speed data services but doesn’t have the scalability. You need more base stations for offering 3G at the same capacity of total bandwidth and with this, the capex per subscriber goes up. And if you add more subscribers, the speed goes down. WiMax is a more cost-effective and efficient technology.”

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