The Road Wirer
Hot News for Dashboarders!
On the eve of the opening of the Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas, there is some breaking news of interest to North American dashboarders. In the November 12th Road Wirer column, I wrote that the FCC had never licensed two-way satellite service for "mobile" consumers and it appeared unlikely that they ever would, given a host of operational concerns over the mounting of the super-sized transceivers and the potential of stray radiation emitting from improperly targeted antennas hitting other communication devices and/or people.
Almost as soon as the article was published, Randy Kerr, a long-term dashboarding correspondent, alerted me to the work of Jim Pendelton and his staff at MotoSat, Inc. in Salt Lake City. MotoSat has been building satellite communication devices for the marine and terrestrial markets for several years. In 2000, they produced a system similar to the "TrakNet" (Click here for more info) devices that employ the Canadian Bell ExpressVu DirecPC system and use cellular bands for the upload path.
Jim's company has been working on "DataStorm," a new product classified as a "Fixed Mobile" satellite Internet access system. This will be the first true, automatic, two-way, broadband satellite solution for reaching the web. It is called Fixed Mobile because the enabling software will only allow the potentially damaging upload signal to be sent when the vehicle is firmly stationary and properly locked on target. MotoSat has been working with Hughes Network Systems to develop the software safeguards that will enable the FCC to license this for consumer use. Beta-testing has been underway for nearly six months and I hope to be able to announce that final approvals have been made shortly after the CES show. Pricing is somewhat more difficult to ascertain, but Jim has provided glimpses of what we can expect at www.motosat.com/twoway_001.htm .
802.11(b) systems continue to fuel flights of wireless connectivity fancy and even some fact. Take, for example, the system Peter Butler has created in the Falmouth, Massachusetts area. His company is providing wireless access to marine dashboarders up to twenty-two miles at sea from the land-based transmitters. Peter's firm, WhizWireless, Inc. is a wireless ISP that provides coverage for about 2000 square miles using 22 transmitters. For more information, check out www.whizwireless.com.
Finally, a budding entrepreneur sent this message to us earlier today: "I have special equipment installed in my 2001 5th wheel RV to provide a campground with public wireless satellite broadband internet access (web surfing and email) on 6 laptop computers and a 20'x12' portable tent with seating for 8 people." He hopes to charge $2/hr to use his special Cyber Tent at campgrounds around the country as a service to would-be dashboarders.
Next week: News from CES in Las Vegas, the greatest gadget convention of all time!
Las Vegas, Nevada
January 7, 2002