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WiBro: mobile communications.

Imagine a portable Internet service that provides high-speed wireless Internet connection anytime, anywhere, even at high speeds inside your vehicle.

This is an old dream by now, and everyone knows that there have been bumps along the way.

Intel's Centrino chips helped popularize WiFi, or wireless broadband, which is now a must-have function in notebook PCs or higher-end PDAs.

Yet WiFi signals have such limited radius that you might need several base stations if you want to move around in even a modestly sized area. To make wireless broadband truly ubiquitous, you need ultrapowerful signals that cover a whole metropolitan area. Two competing technologies--fixed WiMAX (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) and Korea's own homegrown mobile wireless broadband called WiBro--are competing to be the answers to this riddle.

The two offer different versions of the same basic wireless IEEE 802.16 standard, which addresses frequencies from 10GHz to 66GHz--WiMAX on the 802.16-2004 standard formerly known as 802.16d and WiBro on 802.16e standard. While WiMAX sends a signal of tens of megabits per second to fixed receivers over a distance of several tens of kilometers, initially WiBro will send over 1Mbps signal to receivers moving at speeds of up to 70 km (36 mph) an hour.

Though they are fairly similar technologies, they address slightly different market niches for now. Essentially, the two are likely to converge and for now because it offers mobility, WiBro has an edge.

Why WiBro, if WiMAX is so well-advanced and almost ready to roll out next year? Because Korea already has the world's most advanced broadband market and a leader in mobile telephony, Korea is not interested in fixed solutions like WiMAX. It wants a mobile wireless solution. The betting is that Korea's technology leadership and market clout together will be strong enough to carry the day. Other markets such as Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan that are seeing higher adoption rates of fixed broadband are likely to prefer WiBro over WiMAX.

WiBro is just one part of Korea's comprehensive strategy for leadership in next-generation mobile communications services and devices. As a major manufacturer of mobile communications devices and its components, the stakes are high for Korea. Korean companies like Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics and Pantech want to make devices that provide cellular users faster and clearer access to multimedia information through satellite or mobile communications networks. WiBro and, ultimately, 4G devices will put Korean manufacturers of both cellular infrastructure and handsets at the top of the league.

Previously dubbed "portable Internet" but since renamed "wireless broadband" or "WiBro," the technology's main aim has been to fill that yawning gap. Korea considered all sorts of alternatives but has since announced that it will base its WiBro on the same IEEE 802.16 standards that form the basis for WiMAX.

The first commercial users of WiBro might be roaming the streets of Seoul surfing the Internet at warp-speed within the next 12 months. In January, three Korean companies--KT, SK Telecom and Hanaro--were awarded licenses for WiBro services. The trio is expected to begin technical testing of services in the second half of this year. WiBro commercial services could be launched at around the same time that WiMAX has its commercial launch.

As the world's second largest semiconductor company and one of the top three cellular handset makers, Samsung Electronics is at the forefront of WiBro research and development. Rival LG Electronics, however, has teamed up with Intel to form an alliance to work on combining the Intel-backed WiMAX standard with WiBro. With Intel now onboard, it is likely that the two technologies will be compatible.

Intel, which was supposed to put WiMAX chips in the notebook (Centrino Mobile Technology) in the middle of 2006 and handheld devices in 2007, might now start putting chips that are compatible with both WiBro and WiMAX around the same time.

Clearly, WiBro is just a stepping stone toward Korea's big goal: eventual dominance in 4G technology that will start to replace today's 3G in the next three to four years.

The World ICT Summit 2005 June 9-11, Seoul, Korea

Following are the key components:

Ministerial Conference: Ministers from about 20 Asian. European, African and Latin American countries, who are involved in the formulation of ICT policies in their respective countries, will meet to discuss how their governments can work together to maximize the positive impact from the development in ICT technology.

Business Forum: A two-day conference will be held on June 9-10 for CEOs of the world's ICT companies. The meeting will focus on the core technologies that are either commercialized or in the pipeline. Leading CEOs from Asia, Europe and North America have been invited.

World ICT Exhibition: More than 200 companies are expected to participate. A wide range of products and services will be exhibited, including digital hardware, software, mobile digital content, Internet and telephony.

The Asia-Pacific Telecommunity Operators Forum [AOF]: About 100 officials from telecom companies in the Asia-Pacific region will take part in this forum. Invited to this conference will be telecom companies and others who have a direct business relationship with telecom operators.

WSIS Thematic Meeting: This meeting on spurring public and private partnership for bridging the digital divide will be held on June 9 and 10. The event will be managed by the Korean Agency for Digital Opportunity and Promotion. Business leaders, policymakers and academics are invited.

Megatrends in ICT Technology: Researchers and engineers from several countries will gather to discuss the latest trends in ICT technology. The conference is designed for academics, research engineers, policymakers and business leaders.

This Special Sponsored Section was prepared by Saturn Communications in Korea and Chief Executive in the U.S. It was supported by Korea's Ministry of Information and Communication, the International Cooperation Agency for Korea IT, the Korea Association of Information Technology and the Korea Radio Promotion Association.

In the United States and Europe, if you have questions about the conference, call Chief Executive Editor in Chief Bill Holstein at 201-930-5925 or email him at bholstein@chiefexecutive.net.

In Korea and Asia, call Laxmi Nakarmi, Saturn Communications, at 822-3445-8285 or email Inakarmi@saturncom.com or Chris Kang at chris@saturncom.com

The conference homepages are www.wictsmt.org and www.wictsmt.com.

Attendance is free of charge to qualified attendees.
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Copyright 2005, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:The Key Technologies
Publication:Chief Executive (U.S.)
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2005
Words:1046
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