By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Flarion Technologies plans field trials this month of a prototype high-speed wireless PC Card that will seamlessly switch between wireless IEEE 802.11b LANs and wide-area wireless LANs.
The card will use the company's flash-OFDM (orthogonal frequency division multiplexing) technology, positioned as a low-cost high-speed competitor to wireless 2.5G and 3G technologies.
Flarion is cooperating with a wireless carrier for friendly user trials in the 700MHz band in a 100-square-mile area. The trial has been using PDA-size modems. One analyst identified the carrier as Nextel.
Flarion's technology is based on OFDM technology already used in IEEE 802.11b wireless networks and by DTV broadcasters in Europe. It promises wireless data at minimum speeds of 384Kbps at the edge of cell sites and short bursts up to 3.2Mbps.
The technology could be applied in greenfield spectrum, including the 700MHz frequencies that TV broadcasters are to relinquish as they convert to digital broadcasting. However, the technology could be applied to any band, including the bands currently used by wireless carriers, said marketing strategy senior director Ronny Haraldvik. Flash-OFDM supports full mobility in bands up to 3GHz.
Even though major carriers have begun installing 2.5G and 3G technologies, Haraldvik claimed they'll reconsider. "3G hasn't delivered what was promised," he said, pointing to the high cost of network buildout, high end-user costs, and lower than expected performance.
It costs $100 per person in capital expenditures to add CDMA 1X to a network covering 200 million people, he said, but Flarion's technology costs only $10 per person. Because the technology also uses less network capacity, he said, carriers can profitably offer subscribers 200MB of data at $40 per month. Today's 2.5G and 3G rates run about $100 for 10MB, he said.
Philips Semiconductor is making the PC cards for the trial, but Haraldvik expects another supplier to begin making commercial production volumes in the fourth quarter, with possible first quarter 2003 commercial deployment of the cards and 800MHz and 1900MHz infrastructure.
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