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Intel, Oracle to fund Road Runner

Looking to push development of high-speed, broadband networks, Intel plans to throw some of its investment funds toward Road Runner.

Looking to push development of high-speed, broadband networks, Intel plans to throw some of its investment funds toward Road Runner, a high-speed Internet access service via cable, according to sources.

Intel is expected to announce a stake in Time Warner's Road Runner as early as next week, the sources said.

As previously reported by CNET's NEWS.COM, Oracle also is interested in investing in Road Runner. The database maker hopes that high-speed Internet access will drive demand for more servers and, as a result, help the company sell more server software, sources said. Oracle's investment also will enable Network Computer, in which it holds a majority stake, to get its software into Road Runner's set-top boxes, said sources.

Intel and Road Runner officials declined to comment on the rumored investments.

Intel's investment will mark the second time it has taken a stake in a cable Internet access company. The chip giant already holds a small stake--less than 5 percent--in Internet access cable company @Home.

"This [investment] is not about set-top boxes. That's peripheral," said a source. "It's about getting high-speed access into the home...leading to more PCs in the home."

Intel's microprocessors are used in more than 80 percent of PCs, and the company previously has said that it is interested in finding ways to help stimulate demand for computers. Intel also is involved in ramping up efforts to provide Internet access via telephone lines, via digital subscriber lines (DSL), and also via satellite.

Last January, Intel joined other corporate titans--such as Compaq, Microsoft, and telcos--in taking action to increase DSL development. Intel also announced plans to enable DSL modems to plug into its Universal Serial Bus.

Last March, the chipmaker announced plans to team up with Hong Kong-based Pacific Century Group, which has satellite and broadband expertise, in order to bring broadband data services to the Asia-Pacific region. Under the terms of the agreement, the two companies formed Pacific Convergence Corporation to bring data via satellite to the region.

"The common thread for all of these investments is providing a way to get [data] inside and outside of homes faster, and making PCs more useful," said a source.

(Intel is an investor in CNET: The Computer Network.)