Select Page

Intel embeds 802.11 support right into the CPU. Once again it’s clear that the Bazaar (unlicensed spectrum) will outpace the Cathedral (licensed spectrum) every time. When these Pentium M chips sink below $100, I think we can expect to see some amazing products.

Question: Why does my monitor need to be on 802.11?


—— 20030312/wr_nm/tech_intel_wifi_dc

Intel Wireless Computer Push Sparks Industry Rush Tue Mar 11, 9:22 PM ET Add Technology – Reuters Internet Report to My Yahoo!

By Elinor Mills Abreu and Eric Auchard

SAN FRANCISCO/HANOVER, Germany (Reuters) – Flexing its muscles as the world’s largest chipmaker, Intel Corp. (Nasdaq:INTC – news) on Wednesday will show how its industry arm-twisting could make connecting to the Internet via wireless networks a standard feature on mobile computers within a year.

At news conferences from Sydney to Beijing, from Tokyo to New York, Intel will finally unveil its much-ballyhooed set of chips known as Centrino that it hopes will become the wireless computer counterpart of its established Pentium chip line.

Analysts think Intel’s push could be one bright spot in an otherwise dismal market for new technology this year.

But by marshaling top notebook computer makers, retailers such as McDonald’s Corp. and U.S. bookseller Borders, and mobile telephone providers around the globe, Intel is giving the biggest boost yet to a technology sometimes seen as a spoiler for the emerging generation of mobile Internet phones.

Intel is lending support to a grass-roots technology that for years suffered from fragmented industry support and disparate names such as Wi-Fi, WLAN (wireless local area network) and 802.11, by transforming a patchwork of local and regional efforts into a worldwide grid for wireless computing.


Despite initial resistance to the idea, top-ranked notebook computer suppliers have signed on, including Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE:HWP – news), Dell Computer Corp. (Nasdaq:DELL – news), International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM – news), Toshiba Corp. (6502.T) and Sony Corp (news – web sites). (6758.T) Gateway Inc. (NYSE:GTW – news), the No. 3 U.S. PC maker, is also introducing Centrino-based laptops.

“Every notebook vendor is launching and announcing products with us on Wednesday,” Don Macdonald, Intel’s director of mobile product marketing, said of top computer makers in an interview with Reuters ahead of the product unveiling.

By putting the functions of wireless networks inside the brains of an off-the-shelf laptop, rather than computer users having to configure add-in cards, Intel could set off a veritable tsunami to help propel Wi-Fi into wide use, analysts are predicting. Widespread wireless computer connections could create a sea change in the way computers are used, they say.

Analyst Steve Kleynhans of META Group predicts that by the end of 2003 Centrino will be at the core of up to 80 percent of the new laptops bought by companies, allowing office workers to walk from desk to conference room untethered. Up to half of consumer laptops could be equipped with it this year.

“You’ll find that virtually all notebooks sold into the corporate markets, and by extension, most notebooks sold into the consumer markets, will end up wireless,” Kleynhans said.


Intel’s technology marketing machine looks set to succeed where prior industry prodding has fallen short.

In the late 1990s Apple Computer Inc. jump-started consumer support for the technology by offering a home radio unit known as Airport, while in 2001 Microsoft’s XP operating system simplified the way Wi-Fi worked for Windows users.

Apple, analysts say, has been out in front in creating wireless networking technologies that are fairly easy to set up. The iconic computer maker’s chief executive and co-founder Steve Jobs (news – web sites) has dubbed 2003 the “year of the notebook.”

Wi-Fi provides high-speed Internet access from fixed-position phone or cable television network lines.

Users of properly equipped laptops can gain access to the Internet, or potentially their own corporate network, if they are within 100 meters (328 feet) of a Wi-Fi access point.

Already Wi-Fi is popular among home computer enthusiasts who can install a small antenna box in their house to create a local network linking PCs and other home electronics. The trend is catching on in offices, but security concerns are a snag.

Centrino is intended to be used only in laptops and notebooks, which will be priced competitively with Pentium models. “They’re priced for the mass market,” Macdonald said.

Intel said in a statement on Tuesday that laptops will cost as little as $1,399, comparable to today’s notebook computers.

The microprocessor portion of Centrino is available at clock speeds ranging from 1.30 gigahertz to 1.60 gigahertz, and the price of the chips includes the chipset and the network connection device, Intel said.

The 1.60 GHz Pentium M costs $720; the 1.50 GHz processor costs $506; the 1.40 GHz chip $377; and the 1.3 GHz costs $324, all in quantities of 1,000, Intel said. There are also two low-voltage processors available, running at 1.10 GHZ and 900 megahertz, costing $345 and $324, respectively.

Intel’s push into the wireless computing market is helping prod other major electronics makers to create built-in wireless connections in their own products.

Philips Electronics (PHG.AS) Chief Executive Gerard Kleisterlee said on Tuesday his company is planning to offer a full line-up of consumer electronics products with built-in wireless connections, including computer monitors, portable music and video players, sound speakers and televisions.


Intel’s move encourages not just consumers and companies to install wireless networks, but also telecoms carriers and independent operators.

Public wireless computer locations are known as “hotspots.” They have the potential to create a Web of wireless connections in heavily traveled locations like hotels and airports serving business travelers, Starbucks cafes, and even public plazas.

Hilton Hotels said on Tuesday it plans to make Wi-Fi available in 50 of its North American hotels this month. By 2007, some 25,000 hotels globally will offer Wi-Fi, up from just 1,000 in 2002, according to a recent estimate published by market forecasters Pyramid Research. “Wi-Fi will become as free as the soap in the rooms,” the report predicts.

In Japan and South Korea (news – web sites) key operators have aggressively built Wi-Fi networks, even though they will eat into some of their other wireless services, such as mobile phone traffic.

Every Wi-Fi hotspot that sprouts up at the local coffee shop or airport represents one less potential revenue-earning area for cash-starved mobile operators that have invested billions building these new phone networks.

Nonetheless, mobile phone companies across Scandinavia, Germany, France and the United Kingdom are lining up to supply Wi-Fi services on the theory that if anyone is going to skim their revenues, it had best be themselves.

“I think that both technologies complement each other extremely well,” Rudolf Groeger, chief executive of O2 Germany (OOM.L), the country’s fourth largest wireless operator.