Optical/IP Networks

Monday Tech Roundup

In advance of the fall trade-show season, chip and network equipment vendors are promising better living through faster wireless communications. On the horizon: more "pre-n" MIMO WLAN chipsets, Rev-ed up EV-DO services, fixed/mobile convergence, and a new way to implement mobile VOIP in 2007. MIMO Two-Way: Chipmaker Atheros Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: ATHR) is trying to increase its presence in the market for lower-cost MIMO WiFi routers with the release of a new "pre-802.11n" chipset and network processor combo.

A spokesman for the company tells Unstrung that the AR5008V XSPAN chipset features a two-by-two MIMO antenna array that will make it cheaper than Atheros's previous offerings. The chipset will also work with the firm's new 300MHz and 400MHz network processor, which are designed to make it easier for Atheros to optimize traffic flow and allow vendors to more easily offer services like VOIP over WiFi.

The new MIMO chipset is initially targeted at the small-office home-office (SOHO) market where the bulk of "pre-n" sales are happening at the moment. The Atheros spokesman, however, says that more enterprise-focused systems could be on the agenda.

"That's definitely a possibility as we update the network processors," he says.

More VOIP Flavors: xG Technology LLC says it is now working with an as-yet-unnamed local operator in the U.S. to deliver VOIP services by next year using its xMax technology. (See Fast & Low: xG's Broadband Play.)

Chris Whiteley, director of the corporate communications at xG, says that the firm will offer VOIP services with a $199 handset. (See XG Promises WiMax VOIP.) The firm intends to try and get around the roaming issues inherent with small new networks by including an Ethernet jack in the phone so that users can plug in when not in range.

The Sarasota, Fla.-based company is offering yet another flavor of high-speed broadband technology with xMax. The firm says that it can run VOIP services in the 900MHz public band with its low-power wireless technology. Its initial basestation can support around 500 simultaneous calls.

UMA for Me: Samsung Corp. is claiming a fixed/mobile convergence first with its SGH-P200 handset. The South Korean powerhouse calls this phone the first unlicensed mobile access (UMA) WiFi handset.

And not a moment too soon, as T-Mobile US Inc. is said to be readying its initial UMA-based fixed/mobile convergence services for launch this fall. Such a service should allow users to move between T-Mobile's cellular network and the thousands of WiFi hotspots it has installed in Starbucks and other locations around the U.S. (See T-Mobile: UMA 'Round the Corner?.)

Notebooks Rev Up: Sierra Wireless Inc. (Nasdaq: SWIR; Toronto: SW) says it will enable high-powered cellular users to rev it up further in the first quarter of 2007 as it launches a new PC card supporting a faster CDMA standard.

The PC card should arrive just as Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) fires up its first newly upgraded CDMA Rev A markets. The operator earlier this month that it plans to start moving to the faster specification by the end of this year and hopes to cover 40 million people by the end of 2007. (See Sprint & Verizon Push 3G.)

Sprint's major CDMA rival, Verizon Wireless , said in April that it will start to install Rev A as soon as the network equipment becomes commercially available. (See Verizon Revs It Up.)

The increased focus on network upgrades has come about because operators are finding that they can now make money from enterprise and consumer data users on their networks. Verizon said that it made $1 billion in data revenues for the first time ever in the second quarter of 2006.

CDMA EV-DO Revision A is a radio network upgrade to existing EV-DO systems based on the earlier Revision O standard. Revision A is expected to crank peak burst rates up to 3.1 Mbit/s on the downlink and up to 1.8 Mbit/s on the uplink, using a 1.25MHz channel. (See Sprint & Verizon Push 3G.)

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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