Intel drops 3G from Santa Rosa

The next release of Centrino, code-named Santa Rosa, will offer faster Wi-Fi but no HSDPA support

Intel has suspended its plans to include 3G support in its Centrino platform.

The next version of Centrino, code-named Santa Rosa, was to offer both Wi-Fi and a 3G enhancement called HSDPA (High Speed Downlink Packet Access), Intel announced back in September. Adding 3G support to Santa Rosa would have given mobile workers more choice when connecting wirelessly to the internet or their corporate network.

But Intel told ZDNet UK on Friday that 3G would not be included in Santa Rosa, at least initially. "We won't be including it," a company spokesman said. "There is not enough of a business case. There is not sufficient return on investment to continue."

Although the spokesman declined to comment further on the reasoning, industry observers have suggested that notebook manufacturers are not currently willing to pay the premium for a 3G radio as well as Wi-Fi support. Intel sources have suggested that 3G might be included in the platform at a later date.

The 3G element of Santa Rosa was to be manufactured by Nokia, but Intel would not say if it would continue 3G development with the company. The spokesperson added that competing solutions to the Nokia product do exist.

Intel confirmed to ZDNet UK that it would still release Santa Rosa in the second quarter of this year, and that Santa Rosa would include the higher-speed 802.11n Wi-Fi standard, which will offer users theoretical speeds in excess of 100Mbps (megabits per second).

Intel has not yet announced any plans to add support for WiMax — the wide area wireless technology into which it has ploughed millions of pounds of investment — to Santa Rosa. The spokesman added that Intel was "committed to Wimax and will continue to be so".

Santa Rosa forms part of Intel's much-hyped Centrino Duo platform, which the vendor says will improve notebook battery life compared with its first Centrino offering — which helped to drive the take-up of Wi-Fi-enabled laptops. Notebook vendors such as Dell and HP have indicated they will offer devices based on Centrino Duo when it is finally released.