Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Intel’s Big Bet on Free WiFi?

Intel has a big bet on wireless. Since 2006 Intel Capital invested almost $1.6 billion in the US WiMAX operator Clearwire. Now it is planning to release an integrated Wi-Fi access point that can create a Personal Area Network (PAN). Will this also bring in a new era of free personal Wi-Fi on the move?

Contrary to some early predictions the adoption of free Wi-Fi has if anything accelerated. Briteyellow’s Britezone WiFi experienced its fastest growth in subscribers and usage in 2008. Mobile operator Telefonica 02 became one of the first major service providers to exploit the commercial power of free Wi-Fi when it launched the iPhone in the UK.

In principle the Intel Centrino notebook could become the centre of a network supporting computers, smartphones and other Wi-Fi enabled digital devices. This could provide a Wi-Fi hub anywhere, connecting up to eight other devices to the internet at once. In effect it would replace Bluetooth as the primary technology for Personal Area Networks.

"Over the next two to three years we are going to see Wi-Fi PAN technology migrate from the notebook into all sorts of other devices, like a TV in your living room or a printer in your office, to support these really fast, easy one-to-one pairings," Intel told EETimes.

Intel’s My Wi-Fi will be included in Centrino 2 laptops. With the capability to function as a portable access point it could make standalone access points redundant.

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