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Intel moves into streaming services

The chip giant announces it will begin hosting data broadcasts, the latest element in its strategy to get into the services business.

Intel today announced it will begin hosting data broadcasts, the latest element in its strategy to get into the services business.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based chipmaker said it will sell streaming media services out of its newly created Internet Media Services group to companies that want to broadcast live or videotaped coverage of stockholder meetings, training courses or other events over the Web.

Media and broadcasting services are expected to become a $2.5 billion industry by 2004, according to estimates from various analysts.

Intel is stepping into a crowd of well-established Web event streamers. Heavyweights such as Yahoo (through its acquisition of Broadcast.com), Akamai, RealNetworks and even Microsoft have put their fingers into streaming events for content providers or private corporations. For many of these companies, hosting private streams for corporations is viewed as a strong revenue generator.

"We're creating a global, distributed network built to optimize streaming media content," said Mike Witteman, director of service technology at Intel. The company will invest $200 million into the project to set up broadcasting centers in the United States and Europe and will install servers in key points around the globe.

The company entered the services business a year ago with the creation of its New Business Group, run by longtime Intel executive Gerry Parker. So far, the company has concentrated on building data centers and providing Web hosting services.

The migration to services came partly as an outgrowth of the company's experience with managing its own global operations, Parker has said. Internet service companies have to maintain server farms and other facilities around the world 24 hours a day. Intel runs chip factories around the clock in all of its regional centers.

Intel will sell its services directly to companies seeking to broadcast their material as well as to ISPs that want to offer the services to their own customers. The company will support the streaming formats of RealNetworks and Microsoft and will add support for Apple's QuickTime technology by the end of the year, Witteman said.

The company also will team with DoubleClick to incorporate advertisements into broadcast streams, he said.

Customers include Premiere Radio Networks, Nasdaq.com and Golf Magazine.