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Helio’s Hybrid offering is dead: Hybrid was a single PC Card combining 3G and Wi-Fi access via Boingo’s network, in which Wi-Fi would automatically be selected when available via software installed on the host computer. The offering has been discontinued. Helio has mostly focused on phones, so a PC Card may have wound up too far outside its target audience’s needs.
Cingular becomes first US carrier to offer worldwide card, plan: The insanely named Option GlobeTrotter GT Max LaptopConnect card handles 850, 900, 1800, 1900, and 2100 megahertz (MHz) spectrum bands, covering GSM, GPRS, UMTS, and HSDPA worldwide. The card will be $100 with a two-year domestic or one-year GlobalConnect commitment. The card also includes Wi-Fi.
The service is priced by countries included in a particular plan. A North American plan includes the US, Canada, and Mexico for $110 per month; for $140 per month you get two dozen countries including North America and Australia, China, France, Germany, England, Japan, and others. These two plans include unlimited data in the US and 100 MB of data transfer in the selected other countries.
Data above the 100 MB is $5 per MB in GlobalConnect countries and $19.50 per MB in about 80 other countries. These overages may appear quite expensive in some ways, but having a defined and consistent rate has its benefits, and should allow control.
Other carriers with worldwide plans require two separate PC Cards. The antenna on this card retracts, allowing it to remain in the laptop while in storage or travel.
This category is getting quite large: The cell-to-Wi-Fi gateway category is growing. Seattle-based Junxion was the earliest to push boxes into the marketplace, and their device uses a generic PC Card slot that can support a wide range of cards. The NetGear box using IPWireless technology has built-in UMTS, offered domestically just by Cingular, which is also rolling out the faster HSDPA. Internationally, UMTS is in wider use. The box supports all UMTS frequencies worldwide. No price was noted, and it’s intended for sale to operators who will configure and resell to end users.
Qualcomm announced a host of future additions to the EVDO and HSDPA standards: EVDO Rev B, mentioned in the previous post, is just one of a list of DMMX (DO Multicarrier Multilink Extensions) and HMMX (HSDPA MMX) add-ons. The multicarrier, multilink means that both standards will be able to work over protocols and bands simultaneously instead of requiring all service in a single band on a single carrier.
The EVDO Rev B speed boost can be accomplished by bonding 1.25 MHz channels, the current 1x channel width, in agglomerations of up 15 or 20 MHz total which would allow 73.5 Mbps downlinks. Even a single 1.25 MHz channel will increase from 3.1 Mbps with Rev A to 4.9 Mbps with Rev B.
They’ll also support some tweaky radio frequency and antenna additions that should increase range at lower signal levels; a new codec will improve voice quality; and GPS, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth will all be integrated into their offerings as well as OFDM as an encoding method for streaming audio and video.
Their goal is a multi-tasking convergence that allows simultaneous multi-band, multi-function operation. Thus GPS tracking, Internet mapping software, and a phone call could happen at once, or VoIP and Web page viewing with groupware functions.
It’s a brave new world, and Qualcomm has just leapt in with techniques and standards that show their extend, embrace, and conquer attitude.
The NY Times reports on the use of the Junxion box, which relays 2.5G and 3G cell access to Wi-Fi and Ethernet: Junxion turns a cellular data card into a roving hotspot through a portable box that can be powered by AC and by a car adapter. It also has an Ethernet port. The idea is simple and a few companies sell products or services based on this notion.
I wrote about the Junxion box at its launch for The Seattle Times just over a year ago, and Verizon Wireless said then, “Cheryl Noti, associate director of data development….said the company would probably consider shared usage a violation of terms of service, which could result in a customer warning or account cancellation.”
Today: ” ‘The premise is one person buys an air card and one person uses the service, not an entire neighborhood,’ said Jeffrey Nelson, executive director for corporate communications at Verizon Wireless. ‘Giving things away for free doesn’t work anymore. It never did.’ ” Cingular, by contrast, is interested in the product and may approve its use.
Verizon Wireless has been telling its subscribers for some time that it owns their data behavior, and this kind of response means that they’re more concerned about keeping their spectrum at a lower utilization factor than they are about competing effectively with emerging metropolitan wireless and hotzone wireless options.
Sony Ericsson plans four-mode PC Card with Wi-Fi and Kyocera offers EVDO router: PC Magazine reports on two upcoming options for aiding laptop connections to the Internet via cellular data networks.
Sony Ericsson’s $80 PC Card will include GSM, GPRS, EDGE, and Wi-Fi, with full security support on the Wi-Fi side. T-Mobile and Cingular will likely offer this card for $50 as part of a service bundle.
Meanwhile, Kyocera showed off its EVDO router, a device that routes EVDO connections from the cellular network to local Ethernet and Wi-Fi. This is an interesting option, but it’s worth pointing out that at least two other companies have offered the same kind of product for some months, most notably the Seattle-based Junxion with their Junxion Box that supports a whole host of PC Cards. They’ve been working with a national firm that resells to system integrators, so their pipeline has been running for many months.