Citywide WiMax networks coming this year

And blanket Wi-Fi to take over 100 cities soon...

And blanket Wi-Fi to take over 100 cities soon...

The mayor of Taipei - the first city to blanket itself with Wi-Fi access - is now looking into covering the city with WiMax.

Dr Ying-Jeou Ma, the mayor of the Taiwanese capital, said he hopes to see Taipei become the "first seamless and wireless city", where "WiMax will play a very important role".

A trial of the long-range broadband technology will begin this year in Taipei, according to Anand Chandrasekhar, vice president and director of Intel's sales and marketing group, speaking during a conference call last week. "Overall, there's a lot of interest in WiMax," he said.

Chandrasekhar added that Jerusalem is also eyeing up a WiMax trial within a similar timeframe. Taipei, however, is the undisputed king of the wireless world.

Its Wi-Fi access already covers 90 per cent of its population - and even extends to 63 of its underground stations. The city is hoping to extend coverage to all of its citizens by the end of the year.

Intel, which launched an initiative last week to encourage more municipal governments to go wireless, believes that the number of cities cutting their wires could reach three figures.

Chandrasekhar said: "It's hard to put a number on what will happen. I would not be surprised if from the pool of 13 concepts [cities that are using Intel for municipal Wi-Fi access] we have 100 or so within the next year or 18-month horizon," he said.