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Intel Denies Dualmode Delay

Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) is denying reports that it is once again delaying the launch of its Centrino (formerly Banais) dualmode 802.11a/b chipset until the second half of this year.

"There has been no public change in the launch date for Centrino at all," Tom Potts, an Intel spokesperson told Unstrung.

Officially, the 802.11b chipset will be out in the middle of the first half of this year. March 12 is "in the ballpark," Potts allows. Then, according to Intel, the next Centrino product, which contains both 5GHz 802.11a and 2.4GHz 802.11b radios, will be available later in the first half of the year. (see Yes, We Have No Banias!).

However, according to a research note from Lehman Brothers, which cites a report from the Chinese newspaper, the Digitimes, Intel has pushed back the launch of the dualmode chipset until the second half of this year.

This might seem like a minor delay. After all, Intel originally said it would have its first home-grown wireless LAN chipsets on the market before the end of 2002 (see Intel Plots Home-Grown 802.11). However, rivals now have dualmode product available, and Intel could be losing business because of the holdup.

"The delay of the new CPU… is expected to benefit other silicon providers in the WLAN space," according to Lehman Brothers. Startup Atheros Communications announced at the end of January that top notebook manufacturers Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ), IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM), NEC Corp. (Nasdaq: NIPNY), and Toshiba Corp. are all integrating its dualmode chipset into their products.

The ability to support multiple flavors of wireless LAN is becoming increasing important to laptop vendors. There are 802.11a access points now available on the market, and the faster 54-Mbit/s data transfer rates of the standard are expected to be appealing to enterprise users. However, the majority of installed access points are the older 11-Mbit/s 802.11b. So, to ensure the widest coverage for users, some vendors are supporting both standards in high-end machines.

— Dan Jones, Senior Editor, Unstrung
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