Rose-Colored Wireless Glasses Are Off But Hopes Still High.
In perhaps the most telling development in the snail's-pace race to 3G wireless, Japan Telecom announced in early March that it would delay its rollout of 3G services for about a year, until late 2002. Assuming the standard 12-18-month lag time between Japanese and U.S. implementation of wireless services, we are now looking at late 2003 at the earliest for 3G in the United States.
Telecoms are simply not seeing the services that will allow them to recoup their investments (now into the hundreds of billions) in their networks. In some ways, it's a chicken-and-egg scenario: which comes first, the network or the services? The answer isn't clear, but what is apparent is that the free fall in tech company stocks--from chip makers to software developers--means that next-generation wireless will take longer to materialize. Nevertheless, technology marches on, and we discuss some interesting show announcements below.
Amid the profit warnings, downgrades, and the interminable wait for something approaching high-speed wireless, Internet World Wireless in New York sought to inject some confidence and some enthusiasm into a floundering tech sector. It succeeded, but only by half.
Yada Yada Inc. announced the creation of its Wireless Corporate Services Program, which will allow computer professionals (including wireless ASPs, systems integrators, and software platform developers) to extend their existing technology to wireless PDAs, without having to build their own infrastructures in-house. Through the program, participants will be able to offer customized wireless solutions that include a PDA, wireless modems, email software, and wireless access over CDPD. Yada Yada is offering the entire package, including software, hardware, connectivity, and user support. More information is available at www.yadayada.com.
San Diego-based WID-COMM Inc. has introduced a family of Bluetooth-based wireless access points, called BlueGate 1000, that are server-independent and provide wireless network and Internet access for a variety of mobile devices. BlueGate creates local "hot spots" that can simultaneously link up to seven Bluetooth-enabled devices to any standard broadband modem (DSL, cable, and ISDN) via an Ethernet interface. BlueGate 1000 is available to OEMs and developers. More information is available at www.widcomm.com.
CompuCom Systems and ThinAirApps have developed an integrated wireless solution for corporations that give employees secure access to email, calendars, databases, and groupware applications that are typically unavailable through a firewall--including Exchange- and Domino-based apps. The bundle includes a Palm-OS based handheld, provisioning of wireless service, client access software and on-site installation of the (Java-based) server software, and tech support. The package allows corporate employees to access Outlook and Notes databases and update data in real time, without the need to synchronize in a cradle. The solution uses RSA-based 128-bit SSL encryption. More information is available at www.thinairapps.com.
Taking advantage of recent digital signature legislation, 724 Solutions has created what company officials say is the first broadly interoperable, open standards-based PKI wireless security solution. The technology, called PKI Gateway, allows business (primarily in the financial industry at present) to implement wireless PKI and digital signature capabilities that work with virtually any PKI technology and Certificate Authority. The service will work with any PKI-enabled device or browser, and is integrated into the application framework, which allows a service provider to create policy-based transactions that determine if a digital signature is needed. More information is available at www.724.com.
A new company backed by Lucent Technologies' New Ventures Group and Pequot Capital has announced details of a new wireless interface for high-speed Internet access. Flarion Technologies has completed initial trials of its flash-OFDM system, delivering data over the 700MHz radio band using an experimental license from the FCC. While details of the development behind the technology are limited, company officials say it grew from work done three years ago at Bell Labs. flash-OFDM transmits Internet data at high speeds without changes to the content, to the IP infrastructure, or to access devices. It offers 3Mbps peak data rates and support for VoIP. In addition, company officials say it has 1/10th of the infrastructure costs of 3G cellular technology.
OFDM, or orthogonal frequency division multiplexing, is a signaling scheme that multiplexes a single digital signal across hundreds of signal carriers simultaneously, making it ideal for high-interference environments. OFDM also has no interference between users in the same cell, and interference from users from adjacent cells is averaged effectively via hopping patterns (see Figure). Flarion claims that an OFDM airlink offers data rates as much as three times those offered by 3G CDMA. More information is available at www.flarion.com.
Plano, Texas-based Nextcell Inc. has introduced a CDPD modem for handhelds that uses a Compact Flash slot (Type I or II). Compatible with either PocketPC- or PalmOS-based PDAs, the PocketSpider modem offers 19.2Kbps throughput and about 45 minutes (or 5MB) of transmission time on a charge; a portable charger is included and the modem also includes an optional GPS receiver. More information is available at www.nextcell.com.
Sierra Wireless has introduced the first wide-area NIC for the Ricochet network that operates at 128Kbps. The AirCard 400 is a Type II PC Card modem that can be used with any notebook PC or PDA with the required PC Card interface; it includes a removable antenna. Ricochet service offers flat-rate pricing and no roaming fees, and is available through a number of service providers including GoAmerica, SkyTel, UUNet, and WorldCom. More information is available at www.sierrawireless.com.
Cisco- and Sony-backed Luxxon Corp. of Mountain View has just completed trials of a new media delivery system aimed at wireless service providers. The technology, called Mediator Streaming System, allows providers to deliver streamed audio and video to users while dynamically adjusting the data stream based on the client device. Mediator allows providers to detect the type of client device and its display capabilities and then actively adapt the bit rate, frame rate, color depth, and resolution of the media stream in real time to match both available bandwidth and the capabilities of the device. Mediator can also tailor the stream based on the format the device supports, including MPEG-4, iMode, WAO Bitmap, M-JPEG, Real, and WMT, even if the original content was in another format. More information is available at www.luxxon.com.
Pumatech Inc. launched Intellisync.com a pay service (currently free of change for a limited time) that allows users to keep data on PCs and handhelds synchronized, including email, calendars, and tasks. This service, called Sync-it, will sync data in Outlook and Palm OS 3.0 or later. Another service, called Mind-it, will alert you when data on a Web page you specify has been updated. Browse-it offers "SnapShots" of Web pages delivered to handhelds (Palm OS 3.x), and also downloads pages to a PC and then transfers them to a handheld (via a cradle) for offline viewing. More information is available at www.intellisync.com.
Wireless giant Ericsson Corp. offered journalists a brief on the status of the company's current trials of its fixed wireless broadband access technology (sometimes referred to as Local Multipoint Distribution Services, or LMDS, in the consumer market). Ericcson's solution is aimed at businesses in locations where the build-out rate for fibre is slow and openings exist for rapidly deployable broadband technology.
The company's Mini-Link BAS is a point-to-multipoint microwave technology with capacity that can be allocated on demand, with peak rates approaching 30Mbps.
Trade shows like Internet World Wireless try to put a pretty face on the market woes of wireless companies, but confidence was checked at the door.
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|Title Annotation:||Industry Trend or Event|
|Publication:||Computer Technology Review|
|Date:||Apr 1, 2001|
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