Intel delays Centrino 802.11a chip

The introduction of the 802.11a version of Intel's wireless chip, part of its Centrino mobile package, will be delayed past its expected arrival at the end of the third quarter, an Intel spokesman said yesterday.

Intel is still testing and validating the chip, said Daniel Francisco, an Intel spokesman. The company had hoped to deliver the combination 802.11a/802.11b chip by the end of this month, but customers will have to wait until October to start building systems with the chip, he said.

This is the third time the chip's arrival has been delayed. Intel had hoped to ship a combination 802.11a/802.11b chip with the launch of Centrino in March, but announced last December that chip would arrive some time in the first half of 2003.

At Intel's recent analyst meeting in New York, the company said that the chip would be released by the end of the third quarter.

Intel will not release a chip with the 802.11g standard until the end of this year, when it launches a combination 802.11b/802.11g chip, Francisco said. The company will follow with a chip that supports all three major wireless Internet standards around the middle of next year, he said.

The 802.11 standard was developed by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) to connect devices to wireless networks. Devices that operate on the 802.11b standard and 802.11g standards are compatible, since both standards operate on the 2.4GHz frequency of the electromagnetic spectrum. But the 802.11g standard allows users to connect to the Internet at much faster speeds than 802.11b.

The 802.11a standard operates on the 5GHz frequency, which is less cluttered by other wireless devices, but incompatible with the other standards. Users can send and receive data at around the same speeds as 802.11g networks, but the range of the connection is shorter than that of 802.11b or 802.11g networks.

Intel launched the Centrino package with an 802.11b chip made by Koninklijke Philips Electronics NV in March.

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Tom Krazit

IDG News Service
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