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Businessweek Archives

A Wireless Modem That Could Leave `Em In The Dust

Developments to Watch


NEW YORKERS MAY SOON BE cruising the Internet at some of the fastest speeds available in the U.S. By summer, an Israeli modem company called New Media Communications will start shipping high-speed wireless modem cards to technology holding company CellularVision Technology & Telecommunications (CT&T) in Freehold, N.J. The modems will be handed over to CT&T's New York-based licensee, CellularVision USA, which plans a commercial rollout in Manhattan in about six months.

Plugged into personal computers and linked to small, 6-in.-by-6-in. antennas, the modems can download data over a high-frequency (28 gigahertz) microwave channel at a blazing 54 million bits per second--about 1,600 times faster than a typical home modem.

Subscribers won't be able to take advantage of those speeds right away. Henry T. Nicholas, president of rival modem maker Broadcom Corp. in Irvine, Calif., points out that most PCs can handle only 10 megabits per second. But as PC technology continues to improve, the higher capacity will come in handy, say CT&T executives.

The technology that makes this possible is called local multipoint distribution service, or LMDS. Developed by CT&T, it has been tested in Canada and Russia, as well as in New York. New Media devised special software and chips, and recently won a $30 million order from CT&T for 100,000 modems.EDITED BY NEIL GROSSReturn to top


THINK OF THAT CREAM-Colored silk blouse--so soft, so beautiful, so vulnerable to a splash of tomato sauce. But maybe not for long. DuPont Co. has figured out a way to apply a water-based Teflon finish to silk. The Teflon forms a molecular barrier around the silk fiber that resists liquid stains, dust, and soil without changing the feel of the delicate fabric or interacting with dry-cleaning chemicals. And the process adds only pennies to

the cost of the material.

So far, the only apparel maker using Teflon-coated silk is New York's Adrianna Papell, which is making "Safe Silk" the centerpiece of its spring line. But DuPont believes there are many other potential customers. The chemical giant is also looking at Teflon's application to rayon, linen, and other fabrics.

Teflon has been a popular coating on rainwear and snow gear for years. But its use on ready-to-wear clothing has been growing fast. It now represents 50% of sales at DuPont's Teflon Apparel, up from less than 5% five years ago, says Paige Wheeler, marketing manager for Teflon Apparel. Bring on the lasagna.By Susan Chandler EDITED BY NEIL GROSSReturn to top

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ONCOLOGISTS RAVE ABOUT AN anticancer compound called epothilone A because, compared with other common chemotherapy drugs, a relatively small amount is required to kill certain types of tumor cells. In nature, the compound is produced by a bacterium. Now chemists in California and New York have figured out how to synthesize it using off-the-shelf chemicals, and how to create variations that may be even better at attacking specific tumor types. "We're using our imagination, our intuition, and computer models," says K.C. Nicolaou, who led a team of scientists at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif. At the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, meanwhile, a group led by Samuel J. Danishefsky used a different approach to synthesize epothilone A. The Sloan-Kettering group is also designing variants and testing them against tumor cells in the lab.

Epothilone A kills tumor cells by preventing them from dividing and replicating. In lab tests at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md., epothilone A has proven effective against lymphoma, colon cancer, and ovarian cancer cell lines--some of which resist other drugs, including Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.'s trademarked drug Taxol. Unlike Taxol, the new compound is water-soluble and thus easier to administer to patients. Both research groups are negotiating licenses with drug companies. They say that on-going animal tests look promising.By David Graham EDITED BY NEIL GROSSReturn to top

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