Intel today announced plans to invest $150 million in companies developing Wi-Fi technology. The investment is another step in the company's efforts to accelerate wireless network deployment and proliferate the Wi-Fi standard worldwide.
Wi-Fi technology, also called 802.11, is an emerging and increasingly popular technology that provides high-speed wireless Internet access in many locations around the world, including airports, cafes, corporate offices, universities, factories and homes.
"Wi-Fi use is experiencing explosive growth. Estimates show that it could grow to 30 million laptops equipped with Wi-Fi capability in three years," said Intel Executive Vice President and Intel Capital President Les Vadasz. "It will fundamentally change the way people use technology and enable high-speed Internet access anytime, anywhere for business and consumer use."
Speaking to transportation industry officials at the Wireless Airport Association Conference and Exposition here, Vadasz discussed Intel Capital's commitment to investing in Wi-Fi technology and urged the acceleration of hot-spot deployment at airports nationwide.
Intel has made significant investments internally and externally in a number of wireless programs focused on establishing industry-wide, global technical standards, developing wireless products, and seeding market development. Examples include designing wireless capabilities into products; working with other companies to establish standards to solve wireless security and ease-of-use technical problems; equipping Intel offices and factories with wireless network access points; making venture investments; and researching advanced wireless technologies like smart antennas and intelligent roaming.
In addition, the company is devoting significant resources and attention to Banias, codename for the first mobile computing technology designed from the bottom up for the unique requirements of mobile PC users. For the first time, it will include dual band - 802.11a and 802.11b -- wireless capability as a standard part of combined chipset and processor technology. Banias will be available in the first half of next year.
"Wi-Fi is one of the ripest areas for innovation in the industry," said Pat Gelsinger, Intel Vice President and Chief Technology Officer. "Intel will continue to play a key role in its development through investments, research, industry programs and products."
The Intel Communications Fund will invest in companies developing hardware and software products and services that enable easier-to-use and more secure wireless network connections, simpler billing procedures, a more robust network infrastructure, and new ways to connect to high-speed networks outdoors and to deliver services run over the network. Intel Capital, Intel's strategic investment program, has already invested approximately $25 million in more than 10 companies in this space.
The Intel Communications Fund, managed by Intel Capital, was established in September 1999 and focuses on accelerating Intel voice and data communications initiatives. The $500 million fund will devote $150 million specifically for investment in Wi-Fi companies worldwide. The Intel Communications Fund has made more than 80 investments in 17 countries on five continents. For more information about the fund, visit www.intel.com/capital/portfolio/funds/icf.htm