Intel has stuck the wireless-g protocol into its ubiquitous Centrino chipset and laptops with the faster Wi-Fi technology should appear within a few weeks.

Intel VP Jim Jonhson was on hand in the States yesterday to launch the Intel Pro/Wireless 2200BG and if he looked a little smug, he had good reason to be.

"We're seeing Wi-Fi have influence all over in products,” said Jim, “from notebooks to handhelds, and Centrino provides the only way to have a truly integrated solution.”

The Centrino chipset is now in around a quarter of new laptops sold and although Intel has been surprisingly slow in releasing a 802.11g compatible product, the dire predictions that it would lose its footing to swifter competitors have proved no more than wishful thinking.

Intel was expecting the market to shift from the B protocol to the faster A protocol, which uses a different frequency. But for a million and one different reasons, G - which uses the same frequency as B - has come out on top (at the moment anyway) and Intel was caught a little off-guard.

Wireless has undoubtedly taken off, but it seems that Intel will not be left behind. In fact its timing couldn’t be better. The 2200BG works with both B and G, plus it is upgradeable to the forthcoming 802.11i security standard. It supports Cisco Compatible Extensions and it has a new architecture that uses less power than the previous 2100 chipset.

It is, in short, much better and exactly what everyone is looking for at the moment. Centrino domination of the market seems certain. It is also all Intel’s own technology which means more cash for the company.

Since the price ($25 per piece on 10,000+ orders) is comparable to its, now older, B chipset, it has also managed that most vital of needs - to get suppliers to upgrade immediately.

As for other forthcoming chips, the super-combi A/B/G chipset should be available within the first half of this year, says Mr Johnson, which means June/July. The only bad news is that Intel’s new, smaller Dothan chip will be delayed for a bit.

The chip will be given some big glitzy glamorous outing at the Sundance film festival, of which we couldn’t care less.