Intel extends Centrino certification to the skies

Intel has certified Boeing's Connexion service as part of its Centrino wireless verification program.

Intel has added Boeing's Connexion in-flight wireless Internet service to the list of providers certified under its wireless verification program.

The Wireless Verification Program was an Intel initiative to ensure that publicly accessible wireless Internet services, or hotspots, would work with the wireless chips sold as part of its Centrino notebook technology package, director of marketing for Intel's Mobile Platforms Group, Keith Kressin, said.

This included ensuring commercial access points were using up-to-date wireless standards and proper configurations.

Connexion allows customers on international airlines such as Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines to access the Internet using notebook PCs with Wi-Fi chips.

American Airlines and Korean Air would soon launch the service on select flights, Intel and Boeing said.

Intel began its wireless verification program in 2003 prior to the launch of Centrino, which consists of the Pentium M processor, a mobile chipset, and an 802.11 wireless LAN chip.

Although wireless LANs had existed for a few years prior to that launch, the general public was unfamiliar with the technology and wary about using it to connect to corporate networks, Kressin said.

In order for the concept to take off, Intel believed notebook users would need to feel confident their notebooks would work reliably with hotspots, Kressin said. For example, not all access points were configured by default to recognise some power-saving technology within Intel's wireless chips.

If a user let a notebook enter a sleep state while connected to one of these access points, he or she might be forced to reboot the PC to get back online, which would be unacceptable for users working on a complicated presentation or a critical email, he said.

Therefore, in hopes of increasing sales of wireless-equipped notebooks, Intel worked with access point vendors and hotspot providers to ensure users would have a reliable experience every time they connected to a wireless network, Kressin said. The company had already certified about 70,000 hotspots in different parts of the world.

The company certifies hotspots as each new generation of 802.11 technology comes out, and it is now starting to ensure hotspot providers are correcting implementing 802.11i, a new specification in the 802.11 family that improves the security of the network.

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