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Kyocera made a very early announcement about a new cell router, the KR2: The new model, no pricing announced, will ship in early 2008, and features 802.11n, and support for EVDO Rev. 0 and Rev. A through a PC Card, ExpressCard, or USB cell modem. No existing cell router offers 802.11n for wireless LAN networking, nor do any competitors yet support ExpressCard, and Kyocera current $150 KR1 is the only one to handle tethered USB connections via supported phones.
The router has the usual four Ethernet ports, supports Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS), and can fail over to cell from broadband wired networks.
I suspect they’re trying to get the leap on the competition by preannouncing something at least three months and perhaps six months before it’s ready to ship.
They’re coming thick and fast these days, tracking an obvious trend as 3G networks become ubiquitous: The Reactor product is similar in description to several cellular bridges that allow travelers, workgroups, and transit vehicles to bridge cellular networks to a WLAN or LAN connection. Pricing was not disclosed.
The New York Times runs down what cellular data networks are, where they work, and how to use them: It’s a good introductions, and it’s part of their Basics series, so nothing new in this item. I’d take issue with three points raised, however.
First, the intro states, “Wi-Fi, the wireless networking technology that can create an invisible field of Internet access over a limited area, has revolutionized the world of mobile computing.” The last clause is true, but cellular base stations also create service over a limited area; putting them in overlapping areas creates seamless coverage, same as with metro-scale Wi-Fi. My caveat, Wi-Fi is designed to cover a limited area where cell and WiMax are not.
Second, no mention of adding EVDO or UMTS service on an existing cell phone instead of purchasing a PC Card. This tethered option often comes with a smaller price tag for unlimited service. Cingular doesn’t offer HSDPA phones yet, so it’s no really worth getting a UMTS phone today for that purpose along.
Third, while the last section notes that Verizon and Cingular told the Times reporter that sharing a connection violates its terms of service, Cingular has authorized use of the Junxion box. And the Junxion box isn’t really designed for SOHO users; Kyocera’s is.
Junxion’s cell-to-LAN bridge has been certified by two of four major carriers: While Verizon Wireless continues to posture against any but very limited uses of its 3G cellular networks, its two largest domestic competitors have certified Junxion wireless wide area network (WWAN) to LAN/WAN bridge. The Junxion Box was one of the first of its class—a few devices in limited distribution preceded it—and has faced continued skepticism about carrier adoption even as the company has pushed boxes out the door. They don’t disclose sales figures, but they look awfully happy these days.
At CTIA, both Sprint Nextel and Cingular had Junxion Boxes in their booths and actively talked up the product as a wireline failsafe and a mobile workgroup device, among other purposes.
Unlike most competing devices, including the Linksys box that Sprint will resell primarily for the consumer market, the Junxion equipment can accept most PC Cards using most 2.5G and 3G standards, including EVDO and UMTS. The Junxion has an Ethernet switch and built-in Wi-Fi. It can also create a VPN connection from itself to an end-point elsewhere. Junxion offers a variety of management tools to help larger firms pull together statistics and configure units as a whole rather than one at a time, even when in the field.
The device that Sprint will resell on its network announced by Linksys: The WRT54G3G-NA works much like several other devices on the market, with a CardBus slot, Wi-Fi gateway, and 10/100 Mbps Ethernet switch. Unlike the Junxion box, an early entrant in this category, the Linksys device accepts only EVDO cards, which restricts its usage to Verizon Wireless and Sprint’s networks.
Verizon Wireless has repeatedly stated that they don’t want their network to be used in this fashion, will enforce the contract provisions that don’t allow this use, and are apparently starting to charge higher-bandwidth BroadbandAccess (EVDO) users, although this device doesn’t necessarily promote the use of lots of data.
Linksys has priced their box at $199, and it’s scheduled to ship this summer.
News.com speculates that Sprint’s near-term release of a Linksys cell-to-LAN bridge is a play for DSL subscribers: They bury the real answer to their analysis, though, which is that even with the slow DSL speeds possible with EVDO Rev. A, which Sprint expects to roll out in early 2007, the current pricing is $14.95 for similarly fast Verizon DSL and $80 per month for Sprint. The News.com article says “$60” per month for Sprint, but that rate is only available for a two-year commitment to existing voice subscribers. I keep seeing articles cite $60/month as the base rate for EVDO, and that’s just not the case, even though many users may choose to grab the bundle.
Axesstel, Sprint show new cell bridges at CTIA: At the cell industry trade show, it’s not all about the cellular network. Sprint demonstrated a Linksys router that accepts any Sprint EVDO card and bridges it to an 802.11g Wi-Fi network. The device will run less than $200 and will work with existing service plans ($60/month for voice subscribers with two-year commitment; $80/month otherwise). Sprint will also offer a USB EVDO dongle later this year.
Axesstel, an equipment maker, announced a series of EVDO gateways designed for various frequencies and purposes. The gateways accept an EVDO card on the one hand to work with basic 1xRTT and EVDO networks. RJ11 phone jacks allow up to four regular landline phones and one fax machine to connect to place analog-style calls. A Wi-Fi gateway and four-port 10/100 Mbps Ethernet switch is also built in. There’s also GPS and E911 service. Pricing isn’t noted as this a product cell operators would resell to their customers.