Wireless Internet is about to get a huge corporate boost
First Starbucks. Now McDonald's and Intel.
Soon, you'll be able to connect to the Internet, without wires, in all kinds of places. That's because big companies are starting to pour big bucks into Wi-Fi technology marking a turning point for the young technology.
Wi-Fi sends Web pages and e-mail at high speeds through the air like a radio signal. Sender and receiver need special gear.
The latest company diving in: No. 1 chipmaker Intel, which recently launched new chips that will make connecting to Wi-Fi networks easier.
In anticipation of the new chips, McDonald's said it will test Wi-Fi networks in 10 Manhattan restaurants. Last year, Starbucks started putting Wi-Fi networks in 1,200 stores. User cost: $6 a day, or $30 a month, for unlimited use.
In recent months, big tech firms from IBM to Cisco Systems to T-Mobile have announced Wi-Fi initiatives. They hope the technology, considered by many to be one of the most exciting in the downtrodden tech sector, will spark interest in new devices and services, boost their fortunes and propel wireless computing.
Hilton, Marriott, Starwood and other hotels are also installing Wi-Fi in lobbies, guest rooms and restaurants. Boeing is putting it in airplanes.
Intel expects to spend more than $300 million touting Wi-Fi its biggest marketing blitz ever.