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Intel preps chip to link 3G, Wi-Fi networks

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Intel is preparing a wireless chip capable of talking to both Wi-Fi and 3G mobile phone networks, the company has revealed, and is gearing up for a major announcement on Wi-Fi and cellular roaming in the coming months.

The chip giant has also said it will ship a joint 802.11a/g product this autumn.

The Wi-Fi/3G part emerged on a wireless products roadmap shown to analysts late last week. The part was simply dubbed 'WWAN' for 'wireless wide area network', and was flagged as a product Intel will pitch toward handset makers.

Intel is preparing the MAC component - codenamed 'Hermon', according to an eWeek report, though we though that Hermon is Intel's Wi-Fi/3G handset reference design - which will hook up to a 3G PHY and perhaps radios tuned to other wireless data frequencies.

An Intel spokesman said the picture may become clearer in two months' time, indicating an upcoming announcement surrounding the ability to roam from a Wi-Fi hotspot to a mobile phone network. That announcement is likely to be made at Intel Developer Forum, which opens on 7 September.

A number of products are already available - typically mobile data cards for notebook PCs - that incorporate 3G or GSM/GPRS radios alongside Wi-Fi capability, and a number of firms are working on software that will allow the user to move seamlessly from one to the other as he or she moves within or beyond the range of am 802.11 hotspot.

Such products already use multiple radios and controller chips, suggesting Intel is about to come up with some sort of unified part. Certainly, the company is working on a software framework, dubbed the Adaptive Radio Architecture, that will facilitate transparent switching between networks. ®

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