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Broadband...at 100 mph

Tue, 08/09/2005 - 8:00pm
Jeff Baumgartner, CED

OmniWav Mobile has launched a car-based (and boat-based) broadband system that uses advanced cellular and traditional home networking technologies.

Citing recent tests of a new software load, company EVP of Marketing J.C. Fulknier said OmniWave's "WavBoard" system is capable of maintaining high-speed connections at up to 100 mph. If used on a boat, a "reliable" connection can be maintained up to 30 miles offshore, the company claims.

The system, which can be mounted in a trunk or glove compartment, includes the WavBoard, a 10-inch by 6-inch receiver/router that connects to the Internet at speeds as high as 800 kbps via emerging EVDO cellular technology. Where EVDO is not available, the system connects to the slower, but far more ubiquitous, 1xRTT cellular network. If both types of cellular technology are present, the WavBoard will prefer the higher speed connection. On the user end, the WavBoard links to laptops and other IP devices via WiFi or Ethernet.

The package carries a steep price. The WavBoard is $979, and service runs $79 per month for unlimited use. Today, the service is available in more than 50 metros, including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and New York. National coverage is expected sometime next year, according to the company.

The system's lofty prices also limit potential clientele. Fulknier said limousine companies, private businesses and yacht owners are among OmniWav's early customers. "But we've seen some family users in nice SUVs," he added.

San Diego-based OmniWav presently is marketing the system on its own, but has reached out to cellular service providers, and is "in talks" with Sprint, Fulknier said.

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