We’ve been hearing about WiMAX and its "true mobile connectivity" promise for years, but the mobile standard has yet to take off as a viable option for the public at large. That’s about to change, says Intel, as it plans to fit WiMAX chips into laptops by mid-2008, in the same way it has done with Wi-Fi chips.

Opening Intel's annual developer forum in San Francisco yesterday, chief executive Paul Otellini said that by the middle of next year Intel will release its updated Centrino laptop chipset, dubbed “Montevina”, which will accommodate both Wi-Fi networking and WiMAX. With Sprint and Clearwire rolling out its US nationwide WiMAX network next year, the wireless technology could finally be ready to go mainstream.

PC makers Acer, Lenovo, Panasonic and Toshiba have all signed up to ship laptops with Intel’s embedded WiMAX/Wi-Fi module, though computer giants Dell and HP are noticeably absent from the line-up. Besides the promise that consumers will see WiMAX-enabled notebooks in 2008, Intel has further cemented its commitment to the mobile realm by announcing they are going to be working to establish their own Intel-based handsets as well.