Intel's WiMax partners have climbed on board the company's plans to combine fixed and mobile versions of the wireless broadband technology.

All the equipment vendors planning to use Intel's WiMax chips have signed up for the dual-mode Rosedale II chipset (promised earlier this year), which can handle fixed or mobile WiMax, the company has announced.

WiMax can deliver broadband speeds over distances of several miles, and can work with both fixed and mobile clients, but it has suffered from >confusion between the two separate versions for fixed and mobile use.

A version designed for stationary use is already on the market, and has been certified by the WiMax Forum since January. Meanwhile, the mobile version of the standard (802.16e-2005) is complete, but products are still in the pipeline, and the WiMax Forum is not expected to start certifying them till next year. .

Rosedale II is shipping in sample quantities so equipment makers can develop products while Intel continues its own testing, said Yung Hahn, general manager of Intel's WiMax products division. He expects the chipset to ship in volume starting in December.

Intel has been a major backer of WiMax, often comparing it to WiFi as a technology that can proliferate through standardised high-volume chip production and subsequent price declines. Earlier this month it provided US$600 million of a $900 million funding round for Clearwire, which plans a nationwide mobile WiMax service. Rosedale II and Intel's current fixed-WiMax chipset, introduced last year, form the guts of WiMax modems.

Mobility will be key to WiMax's success, in Intel's view. The company aims to reduce risk and costs for equipment makers by providing an easy upgrade path from fixed to mobile, Hahn said. Rosedale II can be changed from fixed to mobile mode through a software upgrade and could even be modified by a service provider over the air, he said.

Ten device vendors have now chosen Rosedale II, according to Intel. They include nine customers of the current Intel Pro/Wireless 5116 fixed WiMax chipset, such as Alvarion, Aperto, and Proxim, as well as Navini, which is focused on mobile WiMax. Alcatel also plans to use Rosedale II.

In addition to making chipsets for discrete customer gateway boxes, Intel plans eventually to introduce a PC Card modem for notebook PCs and a single-chip multiband radio for both WiMax and Wi-Fi.