Qualcomm, Atheros form partnership
The interoperability of their chipsets allows for cellular/Wi-Fi solution Atheros Communications and CDMA giant Qualcomm recently demonstrated interoperability between their chipsets as they pursue an integrated cellular/Wi-Fi solution that can be used on most 3G networks.
“Qualcomm is integrating our software into their cellular stack — our solution is embedded in their reference design,” said Joseph Bousaba, Atheros Communications’ director of marketing for mobile and embedded products. “So the [handset manufacturer] really doesn’t need to do much.”
For enterprises, the ability to let employees use voice over IP via the enterprise Wi-Fi network offers improved in-building coverage for a mobile phone user. Such handsets have been available in the GSM market for some time, but their availability in the CDMA market has been limited to expensive smartphones, Bousaba said. “What Qualcomm is doing is bringing Wi-Fi functionality to the feature phone,” he said.
Miles Lee, vice president of analyst firm Adventis, agreed. “If you have separate chipsets external to the core handset and cellular functionality, it increases costs a bunch,” he said. “Dual-mode handsets just cost more than single-mode handsets. This [collaboration] is moving in the right direction in terms o f integrating multiple modes into a single chipset.”
Indeed, feature phones typically are priced at 50% of the cost of a smartphone, which should generate favorable economies of scale. Even with the Wi-Fi chip, the collaborative solution is expected to fit into the form factor of current handset models, Bousaba said.
The savings extends to power consumption as well, according to Lee. One of the reasons that dual-mode handsets thus far have been slow in gaining traction is that Wi-Fi is an energy-intensive technology. “It’s similar to what occurs in a laptop computer,” Lee said. “An integrated wireless card will consume less battery power than an external card.”
Qualcomm has a similar partnership with Philips Semiconductor, but, “Atheros is the only supplier that can offer both 802.11g and 802.11a/g in the mobile space,” Bousaba said.
The Qualcomm/Atheros solution is scheduled to be commercially available in June. Initial versions of the chipset will not enable automatic handoffs between cellular and Wi-Fi networks, but allowing such seamless transitions is a goal of the Qualcomm/Atheros partnership, Bousaba said.
Qualcomm has a broader goal, Lee said. “Qualcomm’s business model is to drive revenue by selling more chipsets, and integrating Wi-Fi onto a cellular chipset will help them do that. It also will help Qualcomm lock in its customers.”
With reporting by Glenn Bischoff
Atmel Corp. unveiled the AT86RF535A, a single-chip radio that operates at 3.5 GHz with multiple bandwidth options. It is the first device in the Max-Link line of transceivers developed specifically for WiMAX applications. The AT86RF535A features a low-noise amplifier, power amplifier driver, receive/transmit mixer, receive/transmit filters, voltage-controlled oscillator, synthesizer, receive gain control and transmit power control, the company said.
GPS receivers and antennas
Trimble announced several additions to its line of GPS receivers and antennas designed for construction contractors. Modular GPS receivers and Smart GPS antennas both are capable of tracking next-generation L2C and L5 signals plus GLONASS, the company said. A new version of the company’s SCS900 site-controller software also is being released to support the new receivers and recent developments in GPS positioning technology.
BREW-based P2T client
Clarity Communications has added a P2T client based on Qualcomm’s BREW platform designed for the Kyocera KX440 handset. According to Clarity, the KX440 is Kyocera’s first device that supports its inTouch client, which features a downloadable BREW client that uses VoIP and SIP technologies to deliver voice services over standard wireless packet data infrastructure. Because the BREW client is downloadable, users don’t have to replace their handsets when they want to add new features, Clarity said. The handset’s walkie-talkie function is accessed via a dedicated button on the side of the device.
‘Smallest’ RFID chip
Hitachi announced the development of a radio frequency identification chip that the company said is the thinnest and smallest such chip in the world, measuring 0.15 × 0.15 millimeters and 7.5 micrometers thick. Compared with the company’s 0.3 × 0.3 mm IC chip, the new chip has a surface area and thickness that is one-fourth and one-eighth of the original, respectively. The smaller form factor increases the number of chips that can be fabricated on a single wafer, resulting in a four-fold increase in productivity, the company said.
Hitachi said it was able to reduce the distance between each circuit element through the use of silicon-on-insulator technology, which has an insulating layer in the substrate that lets high-frequency devices operate in close proximity without performance failures caused by interference.
P2T handset bridges GSM, WLAN networks
Nokia’s Model 6136 handset offers P2T capability as well as audio and text messaging, and features unlicensed mobile access technology to let users seamlessly transition voice and data connections between GSM and WLAN networks. The company expects to ship the handset in the second quarter.
In addition, Nokia unveiled the Model 6070, a tri-band (GSM 850/ 1800/1900 or GSM 900/1800/1900) P2T handset for the European market that offers basic camera phone capabilities — as well as stereo FM radio, audio and text messaging, and e-mail — at an affordable price point. Initial shipments also are scheduled for the second quarter.
VoIP-based P2T client
Sonim Technologies has launched Xperience, a P2T-over-cellular client that is compliant with Open Mobile Alliance specifications and which provides IP-based voice communications. The client enables one-to-one, one-to-many and group communications; provides a contact list function that indicates presence and availability; and manages weak or intermittent radio signals, the company said. Sonim recently introduced a version of the client for Nokia’s S60 Symbian-based smartphone platform, for which Nokia has manufactured about 28 million handsets.
The ICRI-4TG interoperability device from Communications-Applied Technology creates up to four independent talk groups — which lets first responders from multiple agencies communicate at large-scale incidents — and complies with the National Incident Management System (NIMS), the company said. The ICRI-4TG is designed to let users divide networks into distinct talk groups via simple rotary switches. It operates on the VHF, UHF, and 800 MHz bands, supports digital/analog, trunked/talk-around and AM/FM platforms, and offers VoIP capability for operations where command and control is necessary for a wide range of responders. Several configurations and power options are available.
Vehicle-mounted satellite broadband terminal
Thrane & Thrane’s Explorer 527 is a vehicle-mounted terminal that provides high-speed data transmission via broadband global area network (BGAN) satellite technology. The device provides simultaneous voice and data connections, data-transmission rates up to 464 kb/s and standard LAN and phone/fax interfaces. It also provides seamless global coverage and support for video streaming at 32, 64 and 128 kb/s, the company said, adding that it expects to ship the terminals in mid-2006, about the time Inmarsat extends its BGAN service to the Americas.
Hand-held RFID data terminal
Dietze Enterprises introduced the Nomad-RF, a lightweight, hand-held personal data terminal that uses RFID technology to capture mobile data. The device weighs 11 ounces and measures 7.8 inches × 3.1 inches × 2 inches. It works in conjunction with the recently introduced RFBadge — which contains an antenna, a transceiver (including decoder) and a transponder (RF chip/tag) that is electronically programmed with attendee information — to let event organizers capture information from attendee badges without the use of cumbersome readers. Users can transfer data from the Nomad-RF terminal to desktop and laptop computers via Bluetooth, USB, IrDA and RS-232 connections.
Quick install antenna frame
Valmont Industries introduced the Swift Deploy BC Frame, which folds into a compact package for storage and transport and quickly unfolds at the site for fast and easy installation. Once unfolded, the frame locks into place with the insertion of four bolts. It is available in 10′ 6″ and 12′ 6″ face widths and offers wind loads of 90 mph (no ice) and 77.9 mph (½-inch ice) as well as maximum elevation of 200 feet above ground level.
*spotlight: Portable radios and accessories
TK-2180/3180 5 W portables offer 9- and 14-hour batteries, up to 512 channels and wideband/narrowband operation. Features include group, individual, emergency and queued calling, 12-character alpha-displays, voice scrambling, programmable controls, encryption, an optional voice guide and recorder, FleetSync digital signaling and messaging, MPT1327 compatibility (with firmware upgrade), Ni-Cd, Ni-Mh and Li-Ion battery options, and MILSTD/IP environmental ratings. In addition, the TK-2180/3180 portables are Factory Mutual rated as intrinsically safe.
The FreeMotion 200 headset has been upgraded to offer a more flexible plastic body for all-day comfort, plus a variety of ear-gel sizes for a secure fit on any user, the company said. A new optional tether with clip provides cord-free operation while eliminating the risk of dropping the headset. The headset uses near-field magnetic (NFMI) technology, which provides superior reliability, security and battery life over typical RF-based solutions in extremely short-range applications. Also available is the FreeMic 200 speaker microphone, which also uses NFMI technology and offers a heavy-duty spring clip, P2T operation, voice-operated transmission and a replaceable ear insert.
The P7200 line of IP-based portables supports dual-band (700 MHz/800 MHz) operation. Also, as a software-defined radio, the P7200 can operate in several modes, including P25-trunked (including simulcast), P25 conventional, OpenSky-trunked, EDACS, ProVoice-trunked and analog conventional. Customers only need to purchase the software modes they need and can add more later as warrented, the vendor said.
H10 Series headsets are designed for high-noise environments such as those found in the racing, industrial and manufacturing sectors. The headsets are available in headband and hardhat models and feature dual-shell ear cups, a noise-canceling boom microphone and replaceable ear seals. A listen-only format without the boom microphone also is available. In addition, an intrinsically safe two-way radio headset designed for hazardous environments that require explosion-proof transmitters is available. The PowerComPLUS I.S. offers 22 pre-programmed UHF channels and 38 sub-channel privacy tones, and voice-activated or P2T operation. Headband, neckband and hardhat versions are available.
Recent releases include the Utah chest P2T series, the Sword TruBand remote antenna speaker microphone and the redesigned Juno Firefighter speaker microphone that features the AllClear microphone porting system. Options include the OutLoud remote Tx amplification system, ProGain user-adjustable microphone gain and ProGlo luminescent housings. All products support the full line of Omaha audio accessories, featuring remote Tx, Rx and P2T functionality, the company said.
The Mini-Com lapel speaker is the newest addition to the Vireo product line. It features an in-line microphone, eliminates the need for an earpiece and is designed specifically for users in the retail and hospitality sectors. Also available is the Lightsword speaker microphone, which features a “super bright” LED light that provides hands-free illumination of the immediate area. It also can be removed from the lapel and used as a mini-flashlight — for instance, by a police officer who wants to check a vehicle identification number or registration during a traffic stop — with minimal draw on the radio’s battery. (Based on a 1500 mAh battery, one hour of lights-on operation is equal to about 30 seconds of radio transmit time, the company said.)