Tech giants in talks to fund US WiMax plan

Major US-based cable, telecom and Internet companies are in preliminary, but serious, talks to create a national wireless network that would link devices such as computers, televisions and cell phones, according to a source quoted by an Associated Press report.

Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks, Google, Intel, Sprint Nextel and Clearwire are considering investing a total of 1.91 billion euros (US$3 billion) to 2.55 billion euros (US$4 billion) in the joint venture, said the person, who asked not to be named because the person was not authorized to discuss the talks.

Sprint and Clearwire, a startup founded by cellular pioneer Craig McCaw, have already announced their plans to build out a network using WiMax technology, but had been looking for outside funding.

WiMax promises faster wireless connection speeds for laptops and phones than the latest networks run by cell-phone operators, and it is even seen as a potential competitor to fixed-line broadband like DSL.

Comcast, Google and Intel are each considering putting in about 0.64 billion euros (US$1 billion) into a new company that would operate the network, the person said. Time Warner Cable's portion is $500 million (318 million euros) while privately held Bright House could contribute $100 million (63.6 million euros) to $200 million (127 million euros), the person said.

Intel has been heavily involved in developing the WiMax technology and will be making WiMax chips for computers, set-top boxes and cell phones, the Associated Press report further said.