RealTime IT News

Borders, Hilton Promote Centrino With HotSpots

As Intel readies a splashy launch of its Wi-Fi embedded chipset Centrino Wednesday, Borders Books and the Hilton Hotel are jumping on the promotional bandwagon of companies offering wireless Internet access to help market the Centrino technology.

The announcements follow reports that McDonald's fast food restaurants will also be unveiling wireless hotspots at select restaurants on Wednesday.

Borders Books said it has launched a joint marketing campaign with Intel that includes providing high-speed wireless Internet access to customers at 400 of its locations across North America. Wireless network carrier T-Mobile is providing the wireless network at Borders to help Intel show off Centrino-embedded laptops that help transmit radio frequencies and help users connect to wireless Local Area Networks.

A similar promotion is underway across select Hilton Hotels and Resorts, which kicked off a 30-day trial Tuesday at nearly 50 of its hotels throughout North America. The hotel is offering high-speed Internet access hotspots that let Wi-Fi-enabled laptops (especially ones with the latest Centrino 802.11b chipset) access Internet networks wirelessly. The hotel said the first launch today is part of a system-wide rollout of wireless Internet access in all 230 of Hilton's full service hotel properties in the North America.

The promotion will include signage that lets hotel visitors know about Intel's campaign to drive awareness of Wi-Fi (802.11b) hotspots, where wireless LAN capable notebook computer users can connect to the Internet and corporate networks wirelessly.

Meanwhile, McDonald's said it is launching Wi-Fi hotspots in 10 of its fast food restaurants in Manhattan on Wednesday. A McDonald's spokeswoman told internetnews.com that it plans to expand to several hundred restaurants in three major U.S. markets by year's end including Chicago and a "yet to be determined" major city in California.

The campaigns to promote wireless Internet access with Intel are part of a runup to the chipmaker's official launch Wednesday of its Centrino chipset, which represents a major new product line for Intel.

Not only do the Centrino chipsets help enable wireless Internet access by transmitting radio frequencies, they are designed to be less power-hungry and therefore easier on batteries. The launch is a major gamble by Intel, which is spending an estimated $300 million on the marketing of Centrino, and will include a newly designed Intel logo to convey what the company calls a sense of "flight, mobility, and forward movement," of mobile technology.

Intel has said its new wireless product line starts at 1.4GHz, 1.5GHz and 1.6GHz speeds, slower than its Pentium 4, which can reach maximum speeds of 2.2GHz. But a company spokesperson said Centrino's processing efficiencies enable it to that consume less energy compared to some lines of its Pentium processors.

The new mobile chip will also include a 1MB secondary cache that is twice as big as the cache found on the Pentium 4, Intel said.

Laptops and notebooks with the new chips are estimated to cost between $1,250 to about $3,000. Eventually, Intel plans to embed the Centrino chips in all kinds of mobile devices.

Intel's launch event for Centrino in Manhattan is slated to include speeches by Craig Barrett, Intel's CEO, and other senior Intel technology executives, and will be capped by a concert by Barenaked Ladies.