WiMax gets investment jolt from Intel

Chipmaker pumps an undisclosed sum into Malaysian wireless network optimization company, following a similar July deal in the United States.

Intel is investing in a Malaysian network communications company, a move that further underscores its commitment to WiMax.

The chipmaker's venture capital division Intel Capital, has teamed up with Mavcap, the investment arm of Malaysia's Ministry of Finance, to invest an undisclosed sum in ADA Cellworks, a cellular network planning and optimization company.

In July this year, Intel and Motorola jointly invested US$900 million in Clearwire, a U.S.-based wireless broadband services provider. The deal saw Intel Capital contributing US$600 million, while Motorola invested the remaining amount. Both vendors have been key drivers of WiMax technology, which supports data speeds from 1Mbps (megabit per second) to 5Mbps over a 20-mile radius.

Intel does not disclose details of its investments in private companies, but a Singapore-based Intel spokesperson told ZDNet Asia that the company's investments are typically between US$1 million and US$5 million--though the eventual amount can fall under or over this range.

According to ADA Cellworks CEO Mirza Ahmad, the company has so far been designing and optimizing 2G and 3G cellular networks for mobile operators. With the fresh pool of funds, he said the company is hoping to develop similar expertise in the WiMax space.

"With this investment, the company plans to further develop its competencies in new technologies, and acquire network planning and measurement tools," Mirza said in a statement Monday. "We expect this will increase our ability to deliver a high level of network service to customers on a larger scale."

"With quality of service (QoS) being a key success factor for operators, ADA Cellworks is in a position to elevate WiMax networks to their highest quality potential and help in its rapid acceptance among the mass market," he added.

Mirza said work is underway to acquire expertise in WiMax. For instance, company engineers have already been briefed by Intel on the specifics of installing a WiMax network.

With 13 offices mostly located in Asia, ADA Cellworks counts India's Bharti and Taiwan's Chunghwa Telecom as customers. Mirza said that the company will now start to engage existing mobile operator customers in WiMax network deployment, and expects to sign up its first WiMax service provider by early next year.