Intel set to unveil new Wi-Fi chips, say analysts

Intel this week is expected to introduce a chip that adds support for a relatively obscure version of Wi-Fi, analysts said Monday, a move that could help ease congestion on wireless networks. Endorsement last year by the world's largest chipmaker of the wireless communications technology known as Wi-Fi helped turn wireless networking into a must-have for notebook computer users. But as wireless networks have popped up in homes, businesses and public places, some network administrators have begun to warn of network traffic jams.

In a press briefing scheduled for Thursday, Intel is expected to announce the availability of a "tri-mode" Wi-Fi chip that supports the two most popular wireless data technology varieties--802.11b and its speedier cousin, 802.11g--and the less-used 802.11a. Intel's current chips support only the "b" and "g" varieties. Intel would say only that Thursday's announcement is "to introduce its latest wireless technology for Intel Centrino notebooks."

Analysts, however, said the news was likely to be the new Wi-Fi chip, as Intel has said previously it would have the product ready in the second half of the year. "The only new thing that's upcoming is the tri-mode chip," said JMP Securities analyst Krishna Shankar.

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