Trans Con Mobile announces mobile, Wi-Fi based VoIP system

Israel-based start-up Trans Con Mobile this week announced that it has developed, built and tested the infrastructure and handsets for a wireless voice-over-IP (VoIP) system that will let operators establish "cellular-like" networks in the unlicensed 2.4 GHz band.

Utilizing patent-pending technology tested in Israel, Trans Con Mobile's Wi-Fi based network features base stations with a special antenna, proprietary software and handsets with strong reception qualities to deliver signals 1.4-1.6 miles in open areas. Trans Con Mobile also uses higher power outputs than typical Wi-Fi networks, but the power levels remain within FCC guidelines.

"The transmission power and the reception sensitivity are dramatically higher than what is common in Wi-Fi phones that you can find on the market today," Trans Con Mobile Director Haim Yashar said.

Trans Con Mobile Chairman Avi Shani said the company's software handles handoffs in a manner that meets current industry standards-"it is seamless; the subscriber won't feel a thing"-even when traveling a speeds of more 80 miles per hour.

Although the base-station footprint is more similar to a cellular solution than a typical wide-area Wi-Fi network, the price points for entering the market via a Trans Con Mobile system are dramatically less than the cellular model, Shani said.

"It's much easier to build, much quicker to build and much cheaper to build-there's no need to buy spectrum and no preparation for the tender, which will cost each company about $20-25 million in paperwork," Shani said in an interview with MRT.

Indeed, compared to the $350,000 pricetag typically associated with a GSM or CDMA base station and power generator, the cost of a similar functioning Trans Con Mobile base station is a "very, very small amount of money-it's almost a joke," Shani said. "And we are still reducing the price; we are finding components that reduce the price."

Similarly, the Trans Con Mobile handsets will be "much, much cheaper" to build than cellular phones, Shani said. From a technological standpoint, the Trans Con Mobile devices will be technologically superior to those on the market today, he said.

"It's like comparing a 15th-century vessel to a 21st-century vessel," Shani said. "Just to give you an example, the battery power on a regular WiFi phone lasts a maximum of 30 minutes and then you have to recharge-and the distance is 30 feet. Our battery power lasts 6 hours talk time and 120 hours standby. And we achieved it through software, not a special battery. It's obviously a bigger battery, but you don't see it on the handset, because we wanted to keep the handset the same size as a regular cellular phone."

Currently seeking investors, Trans Con Mobile has completed production design for its base stations and the design of the handsets-the company has used prototypes for testing-is being finalized, Shani said.

Trans Con Mobile's first-generation system will provide only VoIP service, but the company already is working on a next-generation system that will include data and e-mail features. Those phones also will be dual-band devices, so users can access a GSM network where WiFi is not available.

Shani said Trans Con Mobile initially will target early adopters-such as students-but plans to pursue the enterprise market, as well.

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