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IPWireless' PortableDSL modem offers wide-area wireless network access

Posted: 07 Feb 2005 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:wireless? portabledsl? modem? ipwireless? dsl?

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While wireless technology is normally associated with mobility and anything-anywhere connectivity, the IPWireless PortableDSL modem focuses more on bypassing the incumbent home broadband systems. Providing wide-area wireless network access, the IPWireless box is an earlyif somewhat low-integrationexample of the potentially disruptive alternative to hooking up through the traditional wired infrastructure. Airdata in Germany and Woosh Wireless of New Zealand represent some of the initial deployments of the IPWireless technology, with an expanding series of operator trials and deployments announced.

Though fixed wireless is the focus of the PortableDSL modem, handoff support for mobility is possible.

The product's name is somewhat misleading, since the DSL protocol is not usedreference to DSL is made only for the purpose of leveraging consumer familiarity with the popular fixed-line alternative, the company said. Rather, the IPWireless modem uses the data-optimized td-cdma variation of the UMTS 3G standard, combining time-division and code-division multiplexing.

The half-pound modem is housed in a robust, cast-metal enclosure with internal electronics contained on both sides of an eight-layer-buildup circuit board. The product is powered by two processors: an Intel Xscale (PXA255AOC), which likely handles the upper layers of the TD-CDMA stack, and a baseband processor made by Philips (VP22381), presumed to support the lower levels of the communications protocol.

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A front-end processor supplied by Analog Devices (AD9860) manages the interface between the digital baseband and TD-CDMA radio. System memory consists of 16MB of SDRAM from Samsung (K4S283233F) and 4MB of flash from Intel (28F320J3). The RS-232 transceiver (ISL4238E), sourced from Intersil, is believed to provide the interface between the Ethernet connector and the SMSC-supplied Ethernet controller (LAN91C98).

Radio implementation is complex, with small-scale-integration devices from NEC, Silicon Labs and others forming the RF link. An interesting thermoformed metallized plastic shield from Gore is used for EMI control. New product releases from IPWireless include a compact desktop modem and a PCMCIA card, suggesting integration and portability improvements over the unit.

As with many wireless client devices, the manufacturing cost aligns closely with the hardware cost to the consumer, since carriers primarily aim to lock in service plan revenues. Both this product and newer derivatives reflect a burgeoning market for wireless broadbandan intriguing service that could change the dynamics of the high-speed data industry if reliability and cost can be made attractive compared with fixed-line alternatives. Are you ready to cut the cord?

David Carey

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