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Intel touts Wi-Fi in Marriott hotels

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Semiconductor giant Intel and Marriott are expected to reveal details of a marketing alliance to promote the availability of Wi-Fi access in 400 Marriott hotels.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the two companies are expected to announce the alliance on Thursday, in a move aimed at luring more business travellers to Marriott properties, which include hotels under the brands of Renaissance, Residence Inn and Courtyard. Last December Marriott announced that Wi-Fi would be available by spring in 400 of its hotels in the United States, the UK and Germany.

Wi-Fi technology delivers wireless, high-speed Internet access to users without the need for them to plug into an access port. Marriott's Wi-Fi service, which the company claimed is the largest deployment of wireless high-speed Internet access in the hotel industry, will only be available in conference rooms, lobbies and public areas and not inside guest rooms.

Although no pricing was available in December, the Wall Street Journal reports that guests will be charged USD2.95 for the first 15 minutes and USD0.25 per minute thereafter, with the service provided by STSN Inc.

Internationally, the joint marketing muscle of Intel and Marriott should give an unprecedented boost to the technology, helping raise the profile of Wi-Fi as an amenity for guests. The marketing push is expected to include advertising and direct-mail, as well as signage in hotels to indicate the availability of hotspots.

Intel has already hitched its cart to Wi-Fi in a big way, announcing last year that it will invest USD150 million in companies who are developing the technology. And on 12 March the company will unveil its long-awaited Centrino mobile technology, which will include integrated Wi-Fi networking ability and exceptionally low power consumption, a boon for laptop users.

According to researchers, the explosive growth of Wi-Fi is expected to continue until at least 2006 or 2007. Gartner Dataquest predicts that shipments of wireless WLAN equipment will total 26.5 million units this year, up from 15.5 million in 2002, and by 2006, Forrester estimates that fully two thirds of corporate laptops will be Wi-Fi ready. © ENN

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