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Nokia unveils its first WiMAX-enabled device

WiMAX enabled Nokia N810 Internet Tablet device to launch this summer

Nokia has unveiled the Nokia N810 Internet Tablet WiMAX Edition, which will be the vendor's first device to incorporate the wireless technology when it is rolled out in the US in summer this year.

"By delivering the kind of open Internet experience consumers previously only expected on a desktop PC, the Nokia N810 WiMAX Edition is a compelling example of how next generation broadband wireless technology will not only change the way people think about the internet, it will change the very nature of the internet itself," said Ari Virtanen, vice president of convergence products, Nokia.

In addition to the WiMAX capability, the Nokia N810 can also access the internet via wi-fi or conventional cellular data networks. The device features a QWERTY keyboard, GPS-functionality and a web browser powered by Mozilla. It boasts an integrated media player and 2GB of internal memory, expandable to 10GB with an additional microSD card.

In addition, the WiMAX Edition comes with the newest Internet Tablet operating system installed, OS2008. Owners of the N810 and N800 devices with earlier operating systems will be able to upgrade their devices for free during Q2 2008.

WiMAX is wireless technology that is often viewed as the answer to broadband growth in the MEA region. With download speeds of 2-4Mbps per user, the technology also has a superior range to wi-fi. One massive hurdle to mass market WiMAX uptake is the lack of devices with embedded WiMAX technology.

"The initial market to go after [in the region] is the alternative DSL market with WiMAX. What you're going to see towards the end of this year and the beginning of next is mobile devices with GSM, wi-fi and WiMAX," said Noel Kirkaldy, director of wireless broadband for Motorola Home & Networks Mobility in Middle East and Africa (MEA).

"But you might find that there are people who prefer to have a GSM mobile and a data device, such as what we have with our PDAs. A lot of people tend to carry a GSM and a network PDA today.

"In fairness, we think it's going to take time for the industry to move towards full mobility and the proliferation of embedded devices, but certainly for a fixed environment, it's good to go," he added.

However, Javier Álvarez, partner at consultancy group, Delta Partners, said the answer to addressing broadband growth could come from a variety of means.

"The story of growth in the telco space in the region has been mainly revolving around mobile and mobile licences. We're now going to be seeing a lot coming from broadband - either wireline or wireless. WiMAX is the flavour of the month, but there are many other technologies. For the customer, it's about the service they receive and not the technology," he said.

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