Intel makes inroads on wireless technology

Intel has been developing what it calls a "wireless ecosystem" which is aimed at allowing users with any kind of computing device...

Intel has been developing what it calls a "wireless ecosystem" which is aimed at allowing users with any kind of computing device to tap into any network worldwide.

Last week, executives at Intel's wireless development group detailed a series of research projects, which they described as being essential to the company's efforts to sell future generations of chips for wireless systems.

Intel market development manager Roger Chandler said the work included development of a "mobile execution environment" designed to serve as the base level of a wireless software stack.

Software developers and wireless technology vendors could layer programming languages, such as the mobile version of Java, as well as operating systems and applications on top of the Intel technology, he said.

Chandler added that Intel is also developing IP-based intelligent roaming capabilities to make it easier for mobile users to switch from wireless LANs to cellular WANs without any knowledge of underlying network protocols.

Other wireless initiatives under way at Intel include efforts to automate authentication procedures as mobile users are handed off from one network to another and to develop "location-aware" software that works with the company's mobile computing silicon.

The ultimate goal of Intel's wireless strategy is so-called silicon radio, which would incorporate multiple cellular and WLAN standards on chips. But Intel spokeswoman Kari Skoog, said the company did not expect to complete that technology for "seven-plus years". The other pieces of the wireless puzzle are due to appear within the next 18 to 24 months.

Gary Robertson, executive director of global infrastructure at Delphi, a maker of automotive electronics systems, said Intel's wireless development plans sounded daunting.

"But if anybody can do it and pull it off, it's Intel," Robertson said, adding that he could put to good use a system that let him switch from a WLAN service to a cellular network while travelling.

Intel's development efforts have made it the most important company in wireless, and one of the most aggressive, said Craig Mathias, an analyst at FarPoint Group. Because of the growing use of WLANs, wireless technology is a logical path for Intel to follow in search of new revenue, he added.

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