A boost for indoor wireless signals

A suite of devices to keep wireless gadgets operating even inside office buildings notorious for spotty coverage is being shown at CeBIT America.

Spotwave Wireless is first targeting businesses whose staffers are frequent users of cellular phones, BlackBerry handhelds, and other devices that transmit and receive voice and data signals--and who are both accustomed to and often frustrated by spotty reception when inside the office building.

Devices Assist

Spotwave's SpotCell product suite includes a "donor unit" and "coverage unit" intended to usher a wireless signal into a building and distribute it to work areas where good reception is needed. The devices are compatible with all current wireless phone technologies, including CDMA and GSM, and all service providers, says Steve Adams, Spotwave's vice president of marketing.

Donor units are placed where they can receive a signal and then retransmit the signal to coverage units via cable. Coverage units, which distribute the signal to work areas, can cover up to 50,000 square feet, according to Spotwave. Customers can add multiple coverage units to extend the signals to larger areas. The coverage unit can be placed as far as 245 feet away from the donor unit.

The SpotCell technology can double the typical wireless coverage area inside an office building. The SpotCell 200 operates in the 800-MHz frequency band, and the SpotCell 210 operates in the 1900-MHz PCS frequency band, according to Spotwave.

Price, Options

Installation of one donor unit and one coverage unit should take less than an hour and would cost about US$3500, Adams says. It is simple enough for users to install the system themselves, according to the company.

Spotwave is also working on products aimed at home users, to help them extend their wireless LAN and cellular coverage, according to the company. Home versions of the products are expected to become available by the end of 2003.

Australian availability is yet to be announced.

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Rebecca Freed

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