Samsung Electronics plans to release a mobile phone that includes support for mobile WiMax networks next year, a company executive said.

The upcoming dual-mode handset, which will pair WiMax with support for GSM (Global System for Mobile Communication) networks, underscores Samsung's backing for mobile WiMax technology, said Hwan Woo Chung, vice president of Samsung's Mobile WiMax Group, in an interview at the CommunicAsia exhibition in Singapore.

"The first model will come during the first half of '07," Chung said, adding the handset will be made available worldwide.

WiMax is wireless technology that promises high-speed connections over a greater area than is possible with WiFi. Fixed-wireless and mobile versions of the technology are being developed, with the fixed-wireless version seen as a replacement for wired broadband connections, such as cable and DSL (digital subscriber line).

Samsung's mobile WiMax technology is capable of downlink speeds up to 10.2Mbps while travelling at 120 kilometres per hour (75 miles per hour). By the third quarter of 2007, the company expects to push downlink speeds higher, to a maximum of nearly 40Mbps, Chung said.

Samsung demonstrated a mobile WiMax network. The demonstration included a notebook equipped with a PCMCIA WiMax card and several WiMax-equipped PDAs (personal digital assistants) capable of surfing the internet, downloading videos, and sharing files with other users.

These technologies are already making their way into the outside world. Samsung is now working with operators in several countries to test mobile WiMax networks, including South Korea, where local operators will launch commercial services based on the technology at the end of this month, Chung said.

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