updated 10/25/2004 7:53:14 PM ET 2004-10-25T23:53:14

Hoping to accelerate the deployment of a new wireless technology, Intel Corp. announced Monday it's invested in a venture started by billionaire Craig McCaw to deliver high-speed Internet service over the airwaves.

As part of the deal, McCaw's closely held Clearwire Inc. will deploy a network based on the emerging "WiMax" standard and powered by Intel chips. It promises to rival high-speed Internet services offered by cable and telephone companies -- without the wires.

Terms of the deal weren't disclosed, though both companies said the Intel Capital investment was "significant." Intel expects the new technology to be available in 2006.

In August, Clearwire launched its service in Jacksonville, Fla., using a technology that McCaw described as similar to WiMax. Besides targeting U.S. markets, it's working on serving areas that have been largely ignored, including villages in Alaska as well as cities in Mexico.

WiMax, which has been heavily touted by Intel, offers greater range and speed than Wi-Fi, a wireless technology popular today in home and office networks. WiMax is widely expected to be accessible at a distance of miles, rather than a few hundred feet.

It's also expected to eventually deliver speeds greater than today's DSL or cable Internet services without having to dig up streets to place cable. Users also should be able to roam anywhere in the service area and remain connected, much like a cellular phone today.

McCaw is best known for creating a national wireless phone company in the 1980s and selling it to AT&T in 1994 for $11.5 billion. His less successful investments over the years include XO Communications Inc., which filed for bankruptcy in 2002, and Teledesic, a satellite-based high-speed-Internet service. It shut down in 2002.

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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