Teewinot First in US With UMTS

Rural operator Teewinot Wireless Data has quietly launched the first UMTS (universal mobile telecommunications system)-based commercial network in the U.S. in the telecommunications hotbed of Missoula, Montana.

The operator is using technology from IPWireless Inc. to run a wireless data-only network over the 2.4GHz MMDS (multichannel multipoint distribution service) spectrum. The service operates via a pocket-sized wireless modem that can be plugged into PCs or laptops and offers data transfer speeds up to twenty times faster than dialup.

Conventional UMTS systems use frequency-division duplex (FDD) or "paired" spectrum, whereas the IPWireless system operates over time-division duplex (TDD) or "unpaired" spectrum. Data-only TDD systems are more spectrally efficient than FDD systems, because they use one channel for both up- and down-stream traffic rather than two.

IPWireless is a privately held company with around $120 million in funding. CEO Chris Gilbert told Unstrung that the company will announce more deals with operators in the U.S. soon.

— Dan Jones, Senior Editor, Unstrung
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