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Optical/IP

Thin Is In

This week's new-product roundup is heavily slanted towards the cellular with secure access anywhere, über-skinny phones, and TV right on your handset being the order of the day.

Securing the cell: SonicWall Inc. (Nasdaq: SNWL) claims to have the first all-in-one box providing comprehensive security and management for remote cellular access.

Today the firm introduced the the SonicWall TZ 190, a network security appliance that allows users to quickly create a secure 3G wireless broadband network without the need for a fixed connection.

The box can be used to rapidly create networks for kiosks, mobile point-of-sale stations, portable ATM machines, disaster recovery networks, construction sites, and more, SonicWall claims.

SonicWall isn't the first to deliver a box that can be used to add cellular coverage where there wasn't any before. Startups like Junxion Inc. and major players such as Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) have launched products based on the mini-basestation concept.

SonicWalls, however, claims to be the first to have incorporated security and management capabilities into the same chassis. The firm says that users can even hang a WiFi network off the 3G box for even more wireless connectivity options.

You can't be too thin: Virgin Mobile USA Inc. (NYSE: VM) has a new contender for the skinniest phone on the market. Weighing in at just 2.3 ounces -- the "Slice" -- designed by UTStarcom Inc. (Nasdaq: UTSI) is less than half an inch thick.

The Slice is certainly one of the cheapest slim phones on the market. It costs $50 without a contract on Virgin's pay-as-you-go service. Virgin -- better known for its airline, music, and hot air-ballooning adventures -- is one of the few mobile "virtual network" operators (MVNOs) to make a sucess of its piggy-back service. The firm runs its phones over Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S)'s CDMA network.

Can you hear me now? Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM) has just unveiled new 54-Mbit/s 802.11 chips for use in mobile phones. The chipmaker unveiled the BCM4326 (for 802.11b/g applications) and the BCM4328 (for 802.11a/b/g solutions) under the title of "ultra-low power 54g" silicon.

802.11b (11-Mbit/s-over 2.4GHz) is commonplace in today's standalone and dual-mode WiFi handsets. Infrastructure vendors, however, have been designing their VOIP systems for 54-Mbit/s devices for a while now. Generally-accepted WiFi wisdom holds that the faster systems, especially 802.11a, allow more bandwidth to run VOIP services.

Telly evangelist: Chinese original device manufacturer (ODM) TechFaith is bringing TV to the mainland with a phone that can receive multiple live TV channels -- because it has a transceiver built right into the phone.

The firm is using an MDTV receiver made by Israeli chip designer Siano Mobile for the mobile TV technology. TechFaith claims it will be one of the first TV phones in China.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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