Monet Mobile and cautionary tale of EV-DO

This week, Verizon Wireless will announce its big plans to launch a nationwide network using the EV-DO network that can transmit data at over 300 kilobits per second, making it the first real wireless DSL replacement network. The company has a lot riding on this next generation wireless platform, and is counting on millions signing up for the service that could cost about $80 a month. ( I for one would love to switch for this would be perfect solution for someone who is always looking for extreme mobility.)

However, Verizon’s launch comes at a time when the pioneering EV-DO service, Monet Mobile filed for bankruptcy. “Kirkland, Wash.-based Monet Mobile Networks apparently couldn’t find enough Internet addicts to sustain cutting-edge wireless networks it deployed in Duluth and several other cities in and near Minnesota over the past 17 months,” writes The Pioneer Press.

The failure of Monet is a cautionary tale about the pitfalls of betting too much on wireless data in a country like US. Previous wireless service providers such as Metricom and Omnisky failed spectacularly.

bq. When Monet launched EV-DO service in Duluth on Oct. 29, 2002, it was a big event in the tech world because of big-name players such as Qualcomm, which helped pioneer the wireless technology that made the Monet service possible. Qualcomm is one of Monet’s key investors.”They decided to stop funding” after getting little for their money, Edmund Wood, Monet’s Seattle-based bankruptcy trustee said. Monet spent $16 million last year, for instance, but only saw about $1 million in revenue. More than $50 million has been invested in Monet. Qualcomm and LG Electronics hold the largest amount of secured debt, according to Monet bankruptcy lawyer Gayle Bush, “in the range of $40 million.”

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