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Intel Makes Deals To Boost Wi-Fi

By Agence-France-Presse Intel Corp. on March 10 announced a series of deals and investments in a bid to boost wireless Internet, or Wi-Fi, ahead of the launch of its new Centrino mobile technology for laptop computers. The Santa Clara, Calif.-based semiconductor giant said it made investments in four companies involved in Wi-Fi technology to support initiatives to expand and create new capabilities for high-speed wireless networks. The Intel Communications Fund made investments in, a clearinghouse for Wi-Fi service providers, and Vivato, a Wi-Fi switch manufacturer, Intel said. Broadreach Networks Limited and Pronto Networks, which also are involved in wireless networks, also received investments. The fund now has completed seven Wi-Fi investments since October, when Intel announced plans to invest $150 million in companies pursuing Wi-Fi technology. "These investments are part of Intel's efforts to help accelerate the deployment of high-speed wireless networks worldwide," said Mark Christensen, Intel vice president and director of Intel Capital's Communications Sector. For Intel, the deal is aimed at helping increase sales of laptops using its new Centrino mobile technology which is being launched in the U.S. on March 12. Centrino is a new wireless chip package that includes a microprocessor, formerly known as Banias, chipsets and wireless networking technology for high-speed wireless Internet access, using radio frequency to connect to the Internet within a few hundred yards of an access point or "hotspot." The new technology will eliminate the need for special plug-in cards for laptops that are now being used for Wi-Fi, which is one of the fastest growing areas of Internet access. Intel has already begun a big marketing campaign for Centrino, and on March 10 announced a join plan with Toshiba to drive awareness of wireless "hotspots" at public locations such as coffee shops, hotels and convenience stores. Outside the U.S. market, Intel said March 10 it has signed agreements with China Netcom Corp Ltd., one of China's two fixed-line operators, and China Mobile, the country's biggest mobile phone operator, to build wireless local area network "hot spots" in public areas. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2003

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