KDDI trials router for dual 3G/WLAN mobile service

Japan's KDDI Corp. has begun trials of a new mobile router developed by Cisco Systems KK, the Japanese unit of the U.S. networking hardware giant, that could make possible a data communications service that combines third-generation (3G) cellular and wireless LAN.

The service is intended to allow users in vehicles the ability to use high-speed wireless LAN networks when available and fall back to the slower but more pervasive 3G network when out of range of a wireless LAN signal.

"KDDI is studying, on a technical basis, the system with Cisco and KDDI Labs," said Haruhiko Maede, a spokesman for KDDI. "The key point of the tests is whether the mobile router developed by Cisco is feasible or not. Can it do seamless communications, switching from one service to another?"

KDDI launched a 144K bps (bits per second) data service on its nationwide CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) network in April and is planning a further upgrade to the CDMA 1x EvDO, at 2.4M bps, in the second half of next year. Public wireless LAN services are not common in Japan at present, but several major telecommunication operators are currently trialing services and NTT Communications Corp. became the first major carrier to launch a commercial service when it switched on a 200-node network in Tokyo last week.

Wireless LAN services offer significantly faster speeds than 3G although they operate over a much smaller range. NTT's new service provides transmission at up to 36M bps although each access point only has a range of around 100 meters. In contrast, KDDI's 3G network has a maximum speed of 144K bps but is available nationwide in all but the most remote areas.

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