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Broadband next area for Intel investment

The chip giant will begin to more actively use its billion dollar-plus venture capital fund to promote broadband technologies, the head of the fund says.

PALM SPRINGS, California--Intel will begin to more actively use its billion dollar-plus venture capital fund to promote broadband technologies, the head of the fund said today.

"If there is any societal problem with computing, it is broadband," said Les Vadasz, senior vice president of corporate business development and head of Intel's venture capital fund. "We don't yet have the right button to push with broadband."

Although the ultimate success of any investment cannot be foretold, the fact that Intel is looking at pipe-widening technology likely means an influx of money into the industry.

The company's fund is up to $2.5 billion dollars in total worth. Intel invests roughly $300 million a year in new companies. Currently, Intel has investments in more than 200 companies.

Broadband investments would fit into the overall scheme of the company's investments strategy. Typically, the company will invest in companies that can cure a problem with the PC platform or expand its uses. Slow data delivery has been often cited as one of the chief problems of home computing. Rather than invest in cable operators or phone networks, Intel will likely sink funds into chipmakers, modem manufacturers, or other companies working on narrow elements of the broadband quandary.

Vadasz further added that the company is taking an open approach toward the technology. Intel, he added, has already made investments in @Home, the cable provider, and Copper Mountain, which makes products for the competing Digital Subscriber Line technology.

"I don't care it it's spaghetti. We are agnostic about what transport mechanism you have," he said. "There are a number of players we are involved in."

Unlike in most other areas of venture investing, Intel will also ramp up its governmental relations because of the regulatory aspects that impinge upon the communications industry, according to Alex Wong, technical assistant to the senior vice president of corporate business development.

Intel is also actively interested in investigating further investments in ISP technology and Linux, Vadasz added.