High-Speed Wireless Networks to Proliferate

SAN MATEO (04/18/2000) - The promise of mobile wireless broadband to create more e-commerce sales channels and decrease connectivity costs may soon be fulfilled, as major network carriers advance 3G (third generation) wireless technologies in the United States.

3G wireless network infrastructures promise to support data rates up to 100 times faster than current rates, according to vendors.

With Sony Corp.'s investment in Arraycomm's wireless iBurst platform, Nortel Networks Corp.'s testing of 3G, and Ericsson's plans to offer precursor technologies by this summer, the race for wireless broadband access in the United States has hit high gear.

While Arraycomm and Sony are pursuing the consumer channels opened by new 3G wireless technologies, Ericsson is after corporate customers, said Gary Pinkham, an Ericsson spokesman who predicted that the ability to extend the desktop or office to the pocket will dramatically increase productivity.

Having premiered 3G technologies in Brazil, Ericsson plans to bring faster wireless technology to the United States this summer via a software upgrade for Groupe Special Mobile networks, Pinkham said.

Nortel's U.S. 3G plans will be rolled out in stages, starting with 144Kbps data transfer later this year, officials said.

The implications of wireless broadband are not lost on Sony, whose main U.S. businesses include movies, music, computer games, and online content, said Martin Cooper, CEO of Arraycomm and inventor of the cell phone.

Arraycomm's iBurst enables wireless access in speeds and bandwidth that surpasses current technologies by 400 percent and 3G technologies by 40 percent, up to 40 megabits per cell, and 1 megabit per user, according to the company.

The technology would be less expensive to implement than a new 3G network, according to Herschel Shosteck, president and CEO of Shosteck Associates, a Washington-based research company.

Stan Bruederle, chief analyst at Gartner Group/Dataquest, noted that "this iBurst technology offers an alternative: third-generation performances, high-speed Internet access, and a standard access mode across the country."

According to Shosteck, Arraycomm's technology increases the robustness of wireless transmissions by orders of magnitude and reduces interference by focusing directly on the end-user's terminal.

Shosteck noted that the investment by Sony may speed adoption of technologies like iBurst.

Arraycomm confirmed that it has struck deals with ISPs and other infrastructure providers and that it has plans to deploy in San Jose, California, later this year, and in 100 major metropolitan areas next year.

Arraycomm Inc., in San Jose, California, is at www.arraycomm.com. Sony Corporation of America, in New York, is at www.sony.com. L.M. Ericsson Telephone Co., in Stockholm, Sweden, is at www.ericsson.com.

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