ART, Lucent Expand Reach of Wireless Technology

Advanced Radio Telecom Inc. (ART) and Lucent Digital Radio have both announced initiatives designed to take wireless technology into new areas.

However, while ART is concentrating on using wireless to provide fast Internet access, Lucent has its sights set on moving radio into a digital broadcasting world.

On Sept. 8, San Jose, California, will become the test bed for ART's 100M-bits-per-second (bps) Internet access service. It takes the form of a hybrid broadband wireless and fiber network that links companies together in a redundant network ring architecture. Using this network, actions such as large file transfers, IP telephony, and video streaming can proceed quickly without sucking bandwidth from other vital applications, according to ART officials.

"We serve communication-intensive companies who are not on fiber networks," said Henry Hirsch, chairman and chief executive officer of ART, adding that the company expects to expand service to cities across the U.S. after the network's test run in San Jose.

One analyst believes the ART network offers several benefits to companies, especially in terms of "very quick" file transfers and multicast technology. However, he also said he sees competition on the horizon.

"There's a company called Netro which has... point-to-multipoint technology. It offers a metropolitan area shared bandwidth, but the incremental subscriber units -- the cost to add another subscriber -- is much, much less than the proposed project with ART," said Greg Naderi, an IT industry analyst with Frost and Sullivan in Mountain View, California.

ART's Internet access is available now to San Jose businesses, with service contracts beginning at US$1,250 per month.

Like ART, Lucent Digital Radio is turning to wireless technology to expand access to information. However, this time the target is not the Internet, it is the lowly radio.

"We're developing technology that will help radio make the transition from analog to digital systems," said Suren Pai, president of Lucent Digital Radio, noting that additional bandwidth will allow radio signals to carry "about 100Kb of digital data."

"This will provide consumers a whole different experience with radio, not just as a listening device but as something to interact with. We hope that our radio broadcasters can leverage that bandwidth for multimedia use that would include text and images," Pai added.

Lucent Digital Radio's system will help radio broadcasters convert to an all-digital form, with users able to hear satellite and Internet audio over the same receiver. Broadcasters can also send non-audio information -- such as text and images -- over digital radio signals, as well as introduce CD-quality sound over FM stations.

"The content on the digital signal may drive the creation of receivers with larger displays or receivers that are simply intended to deliver non-audio types of information -- it may inspire a whole new range of devices. The receiver of the future may have nothing to do with audio," Pai explained.

Continental Electronics will test transmitter technology for Lucent Digital Radio's In-Band On Channel (IBOC) Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) system, with deployment of the system expected in about 12 to 18 months.

Advanced Radio Telecom Inc., in Bellevue, Washington, is at Lucent Digital Radio, in Murray Hill, New Jersey, is at

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