In a development that promises to spur the deployment of broadband WiMax network services throughout the globe, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) officially added WiMax to a set of third-generation (3G) wireless standards known as IMT-2000, thus freeing WiMax to compete directly against approved 3G technologies that include UMTS and Edge. WiMax represents the next step beyond WiFi, which provides wireless broadband connectivity over limited areas such as airport lounges and coffee shops. According to experts, WiMax facilities are capable of offering broadband connectivity over an area of 40 miles and at speeds of 70 megabytes per second that exceed many fixed-line networks. Overcoming objections raised by several countries such as China (which, reportedly, is pushing for global adoption of its own wireless broadband standard), the ITU designated WiMax as an IMT-2000 standard last Friday, winning praise from officials of the Bush Administration and from Intel, which invested more than $1 billion last year on WiMax network technology. As Intel Capital vice president Sriram Viswanathan proclaimed, “we’re super, super, super thrilled,” the Wireless Communications Association described the ITU’s action as one that “puts WiMax on a level global playing field with the GSM and CDMA families of technology.” Welcoming the decision, Richard Russell, a White House expert on science and technology and a U.S. representative to the World Radiocommunication Conference, said: “we strongly believe in an approach that includes as many technologies as possible . . . because diversity will lead to greater competition, lower prices, and more benefits to consumers.” Noting that WiMax “currently has the potential to reach 2.7 billion people,” WiMax Forum president Ron Resnick declared that the ITU’s announcement “expands the reach to a significantly larger global population.”