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Tech Roundup: MIMO Hits WiMax

Dan Jones
LR Mobile News Analysis
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor

MIMO's on the menu in this week's new technology roundup, with the smart antenna technology being used not just to speed up WLAN but also WiMax. If that's not fast enough for you, we also check out new fashion phones and see how COWs can boost Super Bowl coverage.

4G for Real?
Kyocera Corp. (NYSE: KYO) revealed this weekend that it's working with chipmaker Runcom Technologies Ltd. to speed up mobile WiMax products.

The firms say they have been working for several months on combining mobile WiMax chipsets with multiple input, multiple output (MIMO) antenna technology to use in products such as PC cards, customer premises equipment (CPE), residential gateways, and others. At the heart of these devices, the companies anticipate incorporating Runcom's RNA 200 mobile WiMax baseband ASIC with MIMO capability.

MIMO antenna arrays split and recombine wireless signals to increase bandwidth and capacity between compatible radios. Wireless LAN equipment using the technolgy has seen performance double or more compared to standard WiFi equipment.

Kyocera and Runcom claim they will be the first to introduce a MIMO chipset. Nortel Networks Ltd. and others, however, have been working on similar technology.

Everyone's Going 'N':
Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) followed up the release of its first pre-802.11n Airport Extreme access point earlier this month with a software update last week so that Intel-based Macs can support the new AP.

There has been some controversy in the Mac blog world about Apple charging for the download. When Unstrung tried the file on Friday night, however, there didn't appear to be any fee involved.

Like Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) with its new Centrino pre-n update, Apple appears to see no issue in giving potential customers the rosiest possible picture of the speeds that will be achieved by 802.11n. "A robust wireless network offering up to five times the performance and up to twice the range of networks created with the earlier 802.11g standard," is how the computer maker describes the Airport Extreme. As Unstrung has noted before, users are highly unlikely to see the theoretical 600-Mbit/s transfer speeds offered by the new standard in the real world.

Fashion Victim Phones:
Much of the hype around LG Electronics Inc. (London: LGLD; Korea: 6657.KS) 's Prada-designed LE850 handset has revolved around how its touch-screen interface could make it a rival for the Apple iPhone. Never mind the fact that the phone will be launched on a different continent and looks likely to cost even more than Apple's first handset.

Both these phones are also mere pretenders compared to the sheer snob appeal of Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK)'s Vertu offshoot. London, U.K.-based Vertu has been pushing phones for the well-heeled since 2002 with some lines checking in at more than $7,000 a phone.

Cingular Wireless says it will be boosting network capacity at the Super Bowl XLI in Boca Raton, Fla. with mobile cell sites and other tricks to try to avoid massive network congestion on game night.

"A huge event like the Super Bowl, where nearly 100,000 people converge onto an area the size of a few city blocks, requires monumental efforts," said Rich Guidotti, vice president and general manager for AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s South Florida wireless operations, in a statement.

The wireless unit is using its entire South Florida 70MHz spectrum in Dolphin Stadium and the surrounding areas. The company has set up two cell sites on wheels, or "COWs", in the stadium parking lot; added "dozens of voice channels" to its two cell sites located inside the stadium; and maximized 3G capacity in the area, which it says will make it possible "to process thousands of calls and data sessions" with peak data speeds above 3 Mbit/s.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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