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Commentary: Centrino is more than just chips

Intel's new Centrino products, built for wireless mobility, will boost Wi-Fi adoption and spur use beyond the corporate campus.

Commentary: Centrino is more than just chips
By Forrester Research
Special to CNET
March 12, 2003 1:15PM PT

By Charles S. Golvin, Senior Analyst

Intel's new Centrino products, built for wireless mobility, will boost Wi-Fi adoption and spur use beyond the corporate campus. Centrino means better laptops, but the real push will come from Intel's branding, compatibility and funding efforts.

The Centrino package integrates three pieces: first, the new mobile Pentium-M; second, wireless Ethernet using 802.11b technology, with 802.11a as an option; and third, the 855 power management chip family. Intel trumpets Centrino's improved performance and battery life--despite its power-thirsty integrated Wi-Fi--over its mobile Pentium 4.

But Intel is announcing other Wi-Fi activities that will further increase wireless network usage by:

• Branding "hot spot" locations. Intel has proposed a single logo template for identifying places enabled with Wi-Fi. The Intel Centrino symbol--appearing next to the brand of a service provider like T-Mobile or Wayport--will become the universally recognized sign for ?wireless spoken here.?

• Ensuring compatibility beyond the radio. Today, industry consortium WECA certifies Wi-Fi-compliant wireless cards and access points. But incompatibilities at other layers can cause unreliable

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connections--for instance, between an Internet service provider's Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) setup and a virtual private network (VPN) vendor's implementation. Intel will ensure a more certain customer experience by validating compatibility among hardware and security vendors, location owners and service providers.

• Catalyzing ubiquitous Wi-Fi. Intel Capital has committed $150 million toward improving Wi-Fi service availability and usability and is also committing funds to help promote the service. Intel's initial investments include Cometa Networks, which will offer its Wi-Fi network on a wholesale basis, and, which enables roaming services. Intel's marketing commitments will help promote T-Mobile's hot-spot service at San Francisco International Airport, as well as wireless ISPs like HotSpotzz and Toshiba's Computer Systems Group.

© 2003, Forrester Research, Inc. All rights reserved. Information is based on best available resources. Opinions reflect judgment at the time and are subject to change.