For all of us who have grappled with poor voice connections, dropped calls and ultra slow wireless speeds, the promise of a high-speed wireless experience has been just that – a promise. For almost half a decade, I have tracked companies like Flarion, IP Wireless, Arraycomm. […]

For all of us who have grappled with poor voice connections, dropped calls and ultra slow wireless speeds, the promise of a high-speed wireless experience has been just that – a promise. For almost half a decade, I have tracked companies like Flarion, IP Wireless, Arraycomm. I have followed technologies like EVDO, WCDMA and fixed wireless. But somehow it all remained a distant hope. And then suddenly this week all the promise has started to seem like a reality. EVDO – Sprint and Verizon – rollouts are gathering momentum in the US. Intel is working with Arraycomm on new smart antennas. Qwest is rolling out a WiMAX trial, just like BellSouth and AT&T.

And this week IPWireless got a boost in Czech Republic where its technology will be used by T-Mobile to go after the residential broadband market. And today, Finland deciding to go with Flash-OFDM, instead of CDMA. James Enck, sums it up in so few words, as he often does, when he writes, “next gen wireless coming of age.” James, let me tell you knows European telecom.

All these are small bits, loosely joined. Not today, but sometime before I am of the age when a fine cigar and a smooth brandy matter more than a high speed connection, I will get to live the dream of watching a Bollywood movie that makes sense, wirelessly on my Nokia 770 tablet, sitting in a Parisian cafe, watching the well dressed ladies sashay past me. Back to reality – I have cobbled together some bits and piece, including an interview with Flarion’s founder. This one is from the archives, but its worth your time. A wee bit analysis of the Flarion win in Finland and what day would be complete without an exclusive nugget: a likely rollout of Flarion network in my hometown of New Delhi.

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By Om Malik

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  1. i think we’ll all be at the age when we need diapers (never mind brandy, cigars and broadband) before a Bollywood movie is made that makes sense… which suits me fine… the more non-sensical the better, i say!

  2. dude two words – preity zinta. forget making sense!

  3. priety very pretty… but will always be an aishwarya rai fan. anyway, i’ve said it here before, cheap PCs and Bollywood over IP (BoIP) would have the telecom industry explode in India.

  4. Here in Sydney we’re lucky enough to have two decent wireless providers, Unwired and Iburst. Iburst is the technically better service (Unwired doesn’t work at anything above jogging speeds, whereas Iburst works great even on trains), but they’re both available, with Sydney wide coverage, at prices pretty comparable to DSL.
    In fact, Unwired even have “dial-up” style 64k/32k plans for $15/month, and real broadband (well 256k/64k with a 2gb download limit) for around $30//month
    Iburst plans range from around $25/month for a low usage 256k plan, to $130/month for an unlimited 1mbit/512kbit service.

    Check out http://www.isp.net.au for Iburst, http://www.unwired.com.au and for Unwired.
    There’s a complete list of all Unwired and Iburst plans, from all the various resellers at

  5. Does this mean 3G wireless is dead?

  6. Jesse Kopelman Friday, June 24, 2005

    I’m surprised to hear the iBurst system is working better, as Unwired is using Navini equipment which is seems far more popular in the US than the Arraycom/Kyocera’s iBurst equipment. Navini should be good for up to 60 mph so the “jogging speed” might be a function of a less than optimal network build out. In the US, Our trains rarely get above 60 mph so I had never even considered the issue. Clearly this is something that Navini will have to work on considering even mesh WiFi systems have tested sucessfuly at speeds > 100 mph. Hopefully this is a software isssue and not a function of poor design in their smart antenna system. Poor build out might also explain their low data rates — a well designed Navini implementation should easily support 1M/256k.

    It is interesting to note that both systems rely heavily on smart antennae, in light of the Intel/Arraycom WiMax partnership.

  7. Jesse,
    Sorry, they are actuallly selling 1mbit/384kbit Unwired connections as well, I just included those as examples at various price points.
    The Unwired network here has been plagued by dropouts as well, that don’t seem to be coverage related (My girlfriend who lives on the 8th floor of an apartment block with strong signal suffers from them pretty regularly).
    When I asked the Unwired guys about Unwired at vehicle speeds, they said that the difficulty was with “smooth handoff” between base stations, apparently connection set up/tear down takes around 30-40 seconds whenever you switch base stations (and at vehicle speeds, you’re switching base stations every 2-3 minutes, hence no Unwired connection :) )
    Unwired here suffers from (comparatively) high latency also (around 120-140ms to the 2nd hop), which has made it unsuitable for VOIP so far. A VOIP trial was abandoned by Unwired in May of this year. I’ve got an idea that this is purely a network buildout thing, they’ve used Wireless backhaul for some of their basestations (and dark fibre for others). The base stations with wireless backhaul (which tend to be in the suburbs, where cheap fibre wasn’t available) are the ones that exhibit particularly high pings.
    Iburst, by comparison, is pretty good. First-hop pings still hover at the 60-70ms level, which is substantially higher than DSL and light-years from Cable here, but it’s usable for VOIP.

  8. Jesse Kopelman Monday, June 27, 2005

    Very interesting, LG. I know of a Navini network in the US that is supporting vehicular users, but it is in a very flat place with base-stations very far apart so there may not be much handing off. I’m going to have to look into this further. Of course, Navini has promised to support WiMax, which will require a change in their protocols and may eliminate any such issues — but when that will happen seems up in the air.

  9. Om Malik’s Broadband Blog » Qualcomm to acquire Flarion for $600 Million Thursday, August 11, 2005

    [...] someone said, if you can’t beat them, buy them. More to follow. Previously… Nextgen Wireless is Here, Almost Flarion adds a little spice in India Flarion&#821 [...]

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