Emerging Wireless Data Networks
(late 2000 & early 2001), three new wireless data networks have emerged
on the map that need some understanding. These are Metricom's high-speed Ricochet
network, IBurst and ArrayComm.
Service in August 2001 because of financial problems and low acceptance
Ricochet is an existing high-speed wireless network for
accessing the Internet. It is currently (Dec 2000) available in 12
metropolitan cities and 15 airports. Ricochet allows users to access the Internet at 128
Kbps in new locations (first generation network was supported 28.8 Kbps
speed in the Bay area, Seattle, and Washington - at $29.95 for
unlimited access). The new network access service at 128Kbps is
priced at $99 per month for unlimited usage and requires a Ricochet-specific
More metropolitan areas are planned for coverage during 2001. For more
information on Metricom, go to MobileInfo's
Metricom page. Find the latest coverage and pricing info
from Metricom web site.
It uses SmartAntenna technology. The network is in trials in the
United States and is used by the Personal Handyphone network in Japan.
IBurst promises to provide 1 Mbps Internet connection when it becomes
According to the vendor,
SmartAntenna technology can greatly enhance capacity of wireless spectrum
by an ingenious technique of adding a unique spatial metric to each
transmission. Therefore, it can reuse the same channel many times over.
through this technique, it overcomes the limitations of cellular
technology which depends on a frequency, time slot or code for
distinguishing different transmissions in the same geographic area. Using
ArrayComm's IBurst technology, two users standing close to each other can
share the same channel.
For more info, go to ArrayComm
Mitsubishi's SWIFTComm (Information
based on company's press release)
SWIFTComm's @irPointer, a pen-like device accesses the base stations
housed on towers in cities or on highways, then links to SwiftComm's
communications servers and routers that are connected through wire-line
SWIFTcomm(TM), establishes real-time
connections to the Internet from moving vehicles or mobile terminals over
a direct IP (Internet protocol) link, even while traveling at high speeds.
This wireless IP technology allows users a simple way to access the
network and significantly reduces the time required for establishing
connections. SWIFTcomm(TM) comprises mobile terminals, base stations, and
a server for routing signals between the Internet, stations and terminals.
When compared to other proposed systems, a
SWIFTcomm(TM) base station can serve more than 100 times the number of
customers. In addition, the cost to establish a service network is one
percent of an equivalent cellular network with the same coverage. Service
and maintenance costs to run such a system are about half of a similar
SWIFTcomm(TM) also features an original
technology called Internet Packet Multiple Access (IPMA), wherein
single-paired channels serve multiple terminals simultaneously. By virtue
of Mitsubishi Materials' Khiva routing software, connections pass smoothly
and imperceptibly as the vehicle or mobile terminal moves through
different transmission zones.
The unprecedented reliability and ease of
use of the SWIFTcomm(TM) system are due mainly to Mitsubishi Materials'
super-narrowband technology, which uses readily available radio
frequencies such as those used by taxis, delivery and other commercial
services. This helps maintain steady connections while vehicles pass among
large buildings in urban areas and even while accelerating to high speeds
Mitsubishi Materials has recently completed
field trials of the SWIFTcomm(TM) technology in Oklahoma City, and is now
in negotiations with prospective partners in the United States. These
successful trials demonstrated SWIFTcomm's(TM) ability to transmit
throughout a complex urban terrain, diverse topologies, highways and rural
areas. Mitsubishi Materials hopes to establish SWIFTcomm(TM) as the
industry standard for mobile Internet service and mobile multimedia access
in the intelligent transport systems industry.
MobileInfo Advisory &
Comments: These are interesting network technologies that hold
promise. Metricom has been available for sometime. It works, its speed has
been increased recently and its coverage is being expanded in 2001. The
other two network technologies are just emerging in development and
experimentation phase. Please be aware that network technologies do take a
while to be proven. And these vendors must meet the economic and business
liking of the wireless establishment.
However, all three technologies are up against 3G initiatives of
the big wireless infrastructure establishment. Metricom has been around for many
years and in spite of interesting technology, had a very limited appeal to
the investment community and larger wireless
service providers so far. Recently, it has attracted enough funding to
extend its coverage to 30-40 metropolitan areas over two years - still
very sparse coverage for a national coverage. ArrayComm has a very
significant potential and is headed by one of the brightest wireless
engineers. We hope that it aligns itself with one of the larger
players. Mitsubishi's SwiftComm is relatively new and must await our
appraisal as well as by other independent experts. Stay tuned in.