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Source: IDG News Service
Date published: 22 Oct 2007
Reporter: Dan Nystedt
The Taiwanese government added several companies to a growing list of WiMax wireless broadband technology partners on Monday, including Alcatel-Lucent SA, Motorola Inc., Nokia Siemens Networks BV and Sprint Nextel Corp.

Taipeihas been putting together incentive packages for multinationals to entice them to build WiMax research and development centers in Taiwan, work on development projects with companies from the island, and to make the island a part of the standards-making process for the technology, which delivers high speed Internet service over the airwaves.

Intel Corp.was an early champion of WiMax as a replacement for the Wi-Fi wireless networking standard uses for Internet access in coffee shops, airports and other places in much of the developed world. The chip giant has already signed a similar agreement with Taiwan, and is working with Taiwanese computer parts makers to ready the technology for inclusion in laptop PCs next year.

"We believe partnerships between Taiwan WiMax players and global leaders will speed up the development of WiMax technologies," said Steve Ruey-Long Chen, Taiwan's economics minister, in a speech at the 2007 WiMax Forum, which opened in Taipei on Monday.

The agreements are memorandums of understanding, nonbinding pacts to work together to promote WiMax. Most signatories of such agreements have already pledged to invest in Taiwan or work with Taiwanese companies.

"Nokia Siemens Networks already has partnerships with Taiwanese companies. This memorandum of understanding provides the framework to extend those partnerships," said Marko Tiesmaki, head of business development in broadband wireless access at the company.

Alcatel-Lucent has already pledged to establish a WiMax lab in Taiwan, said Patrick Plas, chief operating officer of the company's GSM/WiMax business. Its memorandum signifies its openness to working with Taiwan to promote WiMax technology, he said.

The pacts are part of Taiwan's plan to become one of the largest producers of WiMax equipment in the world. The island is already positioning itself to be one of the fastest adopters of WiMax wireless broadband Internet connectivity outside of North America. Officials see the technology as a good way to spread broadband Internet access throughout the island, which includes remote mountain villages and sparsely populated outlying islands.

Taiwan often signs such agreements with multinationals to stimulate technology development on the island. Such deals can encourage companies to build technology-specific R&D centers on the island through the use of incentives such as tax-free status, research grants, rent-free space in science parks and more.

Other companies have also signed memorandums of understanding with Taiwan, including Starent Networks Corp., NEC Corp., Nortel Networks Ltd. and German WiMax tester Rohde & Schwarz GmbH & Co. KG.

Last week, Taipei pledged to spend US$1.22 billion to build out Taiwan's WiMax network over the next five years, including $1 billion for a fiber optic backbone running the length of the island and $220 million for WiMax base stations and other equipment.

The island has been promoting its M Taiwan project, or Mobile Taiwan, to speed up Internet mobility and encourage companies on the island to invest more in building products for WiMax, 3G (third generation) mobile telecommunications and other wireless technologies. The government has granted WiMax licenses to six operators, and some of them plan to start offering services as early as next year.

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