A Wireless Modem That Could Leave `Em In The Dust

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.

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