Intel is investing $150m in companies developing wireless networking products, as it attempts to accelerate the adoption of the technology.
One of the hottest areas in a beleaguered sector, 802.11, also called Wi-Fi, is attracting corporate interest around the globe as increasing numbers of companies use it to enable new revenue streams and make their workforce more mobile.
A growing number of public 'hot-spots', locations equipped with wireless access points using 802.11 technology, are springing up around the world in airports, cafes, corporate offices and universities.
Interest has accelerated in the UK since the government opened up the wireless spectrum, allowing companies to use the technology to offer commercial services.
Research from TeleAnalytics suggests that there are currently about 14,000 hot-spots globally, and Gartner predicts that there will be 38,000 wireless gateway locations in the US by 2006.
Intel's three-year investment is part of a $500m fund which the chip maker set aside last year to help accelerate communication advances.
Les Vadasz, Intel's executive vice president and Intel Capital president, said that Wi-Fi is experiencing explosive growth and cited estimates that the technology could be incorporated into 30 million laptops over the next three years.
Speaking at the 2002 Wireless Airport Association conference held in Washington DC on 20 to 22 October, Vadasz stressed the importance of hot-spot deployment.
"It will fundamentally change the way people use technology and enable high-speed internet access anytime, anywhere for business and consumer use," he said.
Intel recently announced that it is to introduce its Banias chip, designed specifically for mobile computing platforms, in the first half of next year.
The Intel Communications Fund, managed by Intel Capital, the company's strategic investment unit, has already ploughed $25m into more than 10 companies in the wireless space.
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