Intel Purchases Bluetooth, Wi-Fi Developer

By Michael Singer

November 07, 2003

The chip making giant acquires Oregon-based Mobilian, which was working on a convergence chipset dubbed 'TrueRadio'.

Intel Friday confirmed it has padded its wireless portfolio with the acquisition of Hillsboro, Ore.-based Mobilian.

Founded in February 1999, Mobilian is a wireless systems company that develops chips, software, and reference designs to support multiple wireless radio standards in devices like PDAs and mobile phones. The company had been working on an all-in-one chipset dubbed "TrueRadio" that combines Bluetooth , which is a shorter-range technology and Wi-Fi also known as IEEE standard 802.11b.

Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel spokesman Dan Francisco said the transaction was completed on October 31, but did not release any financial details.

"Wireless is a strategic area of focus for us and this acquisition fits in line with that," Francisco told internetnews.com. "The Mobility employees that we are bringing over will be part of our Wireless Networking Group, which is part of the Intel Communications Group."

Mobilian employed more than 120 people in three global locations including, Oregon, Dell Mar, Calif. and Yoqne'am, Israel. Before shutting down, the company raised more than $70 million in funding, led by some of the industry's most recognized names in the financial, technology and telecommunications arenas.

The company said its convergence Bluetooth/Wi-Fi technology will enable Net devices to automatically detect available wireless networks, select the most appropriate one, and connect seamlessly. At the time "TrueRadio" was announced in 2000, Mobilian execs said Wi-Fi would be more appropriate for connecting devices throughout the home or small office while Bluetooth is geared more toward "personal area networks."

Mobilian had even taken its cause to the IEEE. With the help of Symbol Technologies in 2001, the company got the IEEE's 802.15.2 Coexistence Task Group to confirm their convergence technology as a "recommended practice" by vendors. The proposal described an intelligent "traffic cop" to optimize throughput when the two systems are located on the same device. The system, according to Mobilian and Symbol, virtually eliminates interference.

Earlier this summer, Mobilian vice president of marketing and product management Frank Hanzlik left the company to spearhead the Wi-Fi Alliance. The Mountain View, Calif.-based nonprofit organization of 190 high-tech companies certifies local area network products through independent testing. Members of the Wi-Fi Alliance include Intel, Dell and Microsoft.

Meantime, Intel has been working overtime to get people thinking about Wi-Fi in the Wireless Personal Area Networking (WPAN) and Wireless Local Area Networking (WLAN) markets. The company has earmarked $150 million to invest in startups in the middle of their Series A or B round of funding. The company is also shelling out $300 million for its Centrino family of chipsets. The movement includes high-profile advertisements, partnerships with companies like McDonalds and even resulted in an entire day of free access.



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