|Mobile Broadband Goes Wide in U.S. - Sort Of|
By Jay Wrolstad, Wireless.NewsFactor.com
KVH Industries (Nasdaq: KVHI - news) has claimed an industry first by announcing availability of mobile broadband Internet access throughout the United States -- but you'll need an RV or a big boat to get it.
KVH said its DirecPC service delivers Internet content to laptops and PCs via satellite at speeds of up to 400 kilobits per second (kbps) -- seven times faster than common 56 kbps dial-up connections and nearly 30 times faster than average mobile data connections.
By Land or By Sea
Broadband signals are transmitted via a Digital Video Broadcast (DVB) satellite owned by Bell ExpressVu, a Canadian satellite service provider, through an arrangement with Hughes Network Systems, KVH said. Transmissions then are sent to a server and made accessible using any of KVH's 18- and 24-inch DVB-compatible TracVision antennas mounted on boats and vehicles anywhere within the continental United States and as far as 100 miles off the coast.
The company's TracNet mobile Internet server includes cellular and satellite modems, wireless connections to laptops or other computers, and a hard drive for data storage.
The Wi-Fi Connection
"This is the first mobile high-speed Internet service in the U.S. that allows complete Web access, and we eventually hope to be the conduit for all digital data sent to vehicles," KVH spokesperson Chris Watson told Wireless NewsFactor.
While the service is targeted toward large marine vessels, RVs, motor homes, buses and tractor-trailer rigs, Watson said the company is developing a three-inch antenna for cars and sport utility vehicles. "The key is we have the highest speed by far for mobile Internet access, and users can access a return link using an 802.11b (Wi-Fi) card that has widespread acceptance in the industry," he said.
To request data or send e-mail, mobile DirecPC customers have two return link options: a landline connection for use while parked or dockside, and a satellite/cellular system for mobile use. In each case, the return link will run at moderate speeds compared with the satellite download delivering data.
Cost of Doing Business
KVH said the system's target audience ranges from businesspeople who need to access their company's Web site and critical information on the road, to people in the the telematics industry, which provides a wide variety of real-time information to drivers.
Watson said the company has not yet set a cost for its service, although there likely will be a monthly fee and a charge of about 79 cents per minute. Getting started isn't cheap, either; antennas range from US$2,995 to $8,995, while the server goes for roughly $6,000. DirecPC service is available through the company's distribution network of some 3,000 dealers nationwide.