Intel conducted a live demonstration on Tuesday of its WiMax broadband wireless capability, offering high-speed internet access over a 500-square-mile area around Las Vegas.

The demonstration included live audio and video wireless feeds into the Mandalay Bay conference centre where the Interop conference was being held, as well as 12 miles into the desert, out to a golf course near the city's southern edge and into a mobile home travelling down the fabled Las Vegas strip.

The WiMax signal was broadcast from atop the Stratosphere Hotel on the northern edge of the city's downtown area.

Though wind in the desert location caused the audio signal there to break up, Sean Maloney, general manager of Intel's mobility group, said the signals were generally "spectacular", running at speeds of 7Mbps (megabits per second) or greater. By comparison, domestic broadband supplied by, for example, BT or AOL, is usually received at a maximum of 2Mbps.
WiMax is likely to serve as an adjunct to more-traditional public and private Wi-Fi hot spots, and it will be used to fill in areas not served by Wi-Fi or to provide back-haul connections to conventional networks, Intel officials said.

Asked whether telephone providers might balk at the idea of WiMax proliferation, which could provide cheap voice-over-IP services to a range of customers, Maloney said that some Asian carriers have added wireless and Wi-Fi to round out their service offerings.

"Service providers are understandably twitchy," he said. The proper response should be to "reach customers in the best way."