Intel has announced that it is delaying the 802.11a/802.11b dual-mode component of its much hyped Centrino chip until next quarter (Q4).

However, according to Intel, it won't make much difference to its customers. "I think that really, at this point, the majority of the customers that we are targeting are really using (just) 802.11b solutions anyway," said Barbara Grimes, Intel spokeswoman. "But we did commit to bringing out [an] 802.11a product to market and that's what we are doing with this."

This Wi-Fi component to Intel's Centrino chip, which was scheduled to be released in the early part of the third quarter (Q3), was postponed to Q4 because the company has not completed the chip's testing period, Grimes said. She added that Intel is very diligent regarding chip release and will not consider sending the product to market until the testing phase is complete.

"Basically, we are in the final stages of testing and validation and working with our customers toward introducing the product…we just need a few more weeks to finish the validation and testing," Grimes said.

According to Peter Kastner, Executive Vice-President for the research firm Aberdeen Group, the late delivery by Intel of dual-band 802.11a/b and next year's delivery of 802.11g is forcing laptop suppliers to turn to alternative radio chip sources.

"In turn, the variety of Centrino branded laptops in the market is reduced, and the Centrino brand diminished since an Intel radio chip must be used to garner the Centrino badge," Kastner said.

He said the delay has caused little harm to the company and added that the Centrino class of laptops with the Pentium M processor are selling well to enterprises even with non-Intel radios.

"The minor harm to Intel has been to the Centrino brand development effort and Intel's technology reputation, not Intel's pocketbook," Kastner said. "This is a tempest in a teapot issue."