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Wireless Net tests get good grades

Tests of fledgling wireless networks are showing promising results.

Tests of fledgling wireless networks are showing promising results, raising hopes that the technology could be the next big thing for the Internet if the industry can figure out how to use existing wireless channels.

American Telecasting, Zenith Electronics, People's Choice TV, Conifer, and Comwave said today that the first stage of testing for a high-capacity wireless Internet access system that's been testing in Lakeland, Florida, achieved two-way access at 128 kbps, the same speed as ISDN connectivity.

The FCC has licensed 33 analog wireless channels in each regional market, not enough to support widespread Net access. But companies like American Telecasting and its partners are working on a technology that "sectors," or slices, a single channel into multiple signals.

"By sectorizing the transmission, we can reuse frequencies to transmit at up to 500 kbps," said Dave Sentman, a spokesperson for American Telecasting, a wireless cable operator.

Sentman said his company expects to have wireless Net access service in place by early 1997 in a variety of smaller cities. Prices will vary according to the speed of access.

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