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Wireless access spans the globe

Two companies have announced significant new developments in wireless Internet access.

Two companies have announced significant new developments in wireless Internet access.

Aimnet, which develops infrastructure software, said it will provide the "first true borderless, ISP-independent roaming service." That service is similar to cellular phone roaming, allowing users to make local calls and connect to their local service provider from anywhere in the world.

"This saves the user from making costly long distance or international calls to the home country," the company said in a statement. "The technology essentially blurs the differences between regional and national ISPs and between national ISPs and international ISPs. Suddenly, every ISP can be a global ISP."

Aimnet will initially offer its service in Asia to provide access to customers within that region and between Asia and other countries. Pricing for the system was not disclosed.

In the United States, CAI Wireless Systems has started testing an Internet access service that it says could transmit information nearly seven times faster than the fastest T-1 lines at costs competitive with other access providers.

The company is testing its service in Washington, D.C., using wireless modems from Hybrid Networks in conjunction with Internet National Digital Network. The modems download information at 10 mbps--compared to 1.5 mbps for a T-1 line--but CAI expects that rate to eventually reach 27 mbps as wireless modem technology improves.

The company is planning to roll out a full-fledged wireless service in Washington in the fall but to eventually expand to 15 regional markets in the Northeast.

The CAI system uses MMDS (multichannel multipoint distribution system) wireless technology, which transmits microwave signals over the 2-GHz band of the radio spectrum. By transmitting at a relatively low frequency out of the range of environmental disturbances like high humidity, MMDS is supposed to be vulnerable to fewer disruptions than other wireless frequencies.