Intel wants wireless ‘hotspots’ near you

A world sprawling with wireless communication “hotspots” that provide access to the Internet is Intel’s vision for the future of wireless mobile computing.

“We will work to provide hundreds of thousands of wireless hotspots across the country,” said Don MacDonald, the director of marketing for Intel Corp.’s mobile processor division, speaking here Tuesday at Intel’s Pentium 4 Processor-M (mobile) chip launch.

MacDonald said Intel is aggressively investing in companies that develop and deploy wireless hotspots in environments ranging from airports and hotels to automobiles. Beyond investing, the chip maker is doing its part to promote wireless computing by continuing to develop new processor technologies that improve wireless communication, said MacDonald.

“Services is not our core strength; our core strength is silicon, so what we’d rather do is encourage companies who are good at [creating wireless hotspots] to do more of it,” MacDonald said.

One such company, STSN, is funded in part by Intel Capital, which is the venture capital investment arm of the Santa Clara, Calif.-based chip maker. STSN provides high-speed Internet and wireless access to hotels and conference centers, according to STSN, based in Salt Lake City.

Intel and Microsoft recently launched a Mobility Enablement Program that also helps foster wireless hotspots by identifying key hurdles that still face wireless technology.

MacDonald named three hurdles, in no particular order, that needed to be crossed before wireless hotspots would begin to appear in force: ease-of-use in wireless products and within wireless networks represented one hurdle, accurately billing wireless roaming, and creating a user base of customers equipped with laptops powerful enough to take advantage of wireless hotspot.

“The best thing [Intel] can do is bring another 30 million notebooks that are wirelessly enabled into the market. That’s the No. 1 thing we can do, provide a business foundation for these wireless service providers to take advantage of,” said MacDonald.