New York — The Anti-Defamation League’s National Consumer Technology Industry divisio
Monet Mobile Networks launched America's first CDMA 1x EV-DO network in seven markets in the upper Midwest, where it's targeting users of home PCs and mobile computing devices who want high-speed wireless Internet access.
The 1.9GHz carrier, based here, launched its $39.95/month all-you-can-eat data-only service through CE retailers, wireless specialty retailers and other venues. The stores offer a Type II PC Card radiomodem and, for home PC installation, a PC Card radiomodem and USB-equipped card reader. The service price includes access to up to three POP3 e-mail accounts and 5MB of hosted storage. Data speed ranges from 300-700kbps even at highway speeds.
With a 12-month contract, the PC Card costs only $99.95 ($320 without). For home PC users, a card and card reader costs $119 with 12-month contract or $280 without.
Launched in the Dakotas, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, the service is targeted equally to two segments. One consists of mobile Internet users who don't want to be tied down to 802.11b hot spots. The other is as a lower cost, faster-to-get alternative to DSL- and cable-modem services for the home and business. If ordered via the Web, the products are delivered in 48 to 72 hours.
Monet sees opportunity in the home/business segment, said chairman George Tronsrue, because in many of the seven markets, "not a lot of broadband is deployed, and in planned markets, there is no broadband distribution."
The company's seven markets are home to 600,000 people, but the company owns licenses for service in areas with a total population of 3 million, all in the upper Midwest. Monet hasn't established a timetable to expand its footprint.
Monet sells the service and products on its Web site, www.monetmobile.com, and through dealers that include Wireless Retail's kiosks in Sam's Club and Wal-Mart. Monet also set up kiosks in Blockbuster stores and will roll out the kiosks to malls and state fairs for special events.
Monet is also testing sales through Best Buy stores in two markets and hopes to move into additional Best Buy markets in the first quarter, Tronsrue said. The company is also in discussion with RadioShack, he said.
Unlike the failed Metricom wireless-data enterprise, Monet can be successful because it's not using a proprietary technology and will therefore benefit from economies of scale, Tronsrue said. Monet's technology will also be interoperable with EV-DO networks expected to be rolled out by wireless-phone carriers. In addition, Monet is targeting a broader base of potential customers, whereas Metricom focused on road warriors who traveled between cities, he claimed.
Down the road, the company envisions a combination CDMA 1x voice/EV-DO data service to homes.
The current service supports laptops, desktop PCs, and the Compaq iPAC Pocket PC device, but support for more PDAs, based on the Windows CE and PocketPC 2002 devices
Its investors include CDMA inventor Qualcomm, LG Electronics, Intel and venture capital funds.
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.