In Motion Takes Hotspots on the Road

By Vikki Lipset

July 31, 2003

The startup is offering a mobile hotspot service to corporate transportation companies that uses cellular technology to power in-vehicle Wi-Fi networks.

Mobile networking startup In Motion Technology Thursday launched a mobile hotspot service that uses high-speed cellular networks to provide Internet connectivity in vehicles.

The onBoard Mobile Gateway bridges code division multiple access (CDMA) 1X wireless wide area networks (WAN) and 802.11 wireless local area networks (WLAN), said Kirk Moir, CEO of Vancouver, British Columbia-based In Motion. Moir said the company will resell CDMA 1X cellular service from Verizon Wireless and Sprint as part of its Hotspot Managed Service bundle, which also includes the Gateway, as well as installation and maintenance services.

Aimed at ground transportation providers, such as limousine and taxi companies, the Mobile Gateway allows passengers to take advantage of the cellular network using a standard laptop or PDA with Wi-Fi. Moir said Carey International is currently testing the service in its vehicles in New York, with plans to expand to Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco sometime in the fourth quarter.

Moir said the service is more convenient than using a separate 1X PC card, and also less expensive to individual users since the price of the connection is shared by multiple passengers.

The actual Mobile Gateway device is "about the size of a loaf of bread," Moir said, and is mounted in the trunk of the vehicle and connected to the car's battery. An antenna on the rear deck of the car picks up the signal from the 1X network.

CDMA 1X offers average data speeds of 70-80 Kbps, but Moir said In Motion can top that. "We are looking to accelerate beyond the standard 3G cellular network," he said.

Indeed, the Mobile Gateway includes the first generation of In Motion's acceleration software, which Moir said speeds up Web surfing by about 20 to 50 percent. He said the company will roll out new versions of the technology in the next 18 to 24 months.

To account for any gaps in network coverage, Moir said In Motion would provide local content on the Gateway that "is of use to the mobile professional." He wouldn't elaborate on exactly what types of content would be available, but said the company would provide further details in August.

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