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Warp speeds wireless Net access

Silicon Valley start-up Warp Drive Networks aims to bridge the gap between ISDN and costlier T1 lines.

2 min read
A new high-speed wireless Internet access service aims to bridge the gap between ISDN and costlier T1 lines.

Silicon Valley start-up Warp Drive Networks' Access Service will allow speeds ranging from 256 kbps to 10 mbps, depending on customers' bandwidth needs. In comparison, ISDN allows 64 kbps per channel.

Warp joins a growing number of companies aiming to provide faster Internet service to businesses who can pay a premium. @Home Network has rolled out access service using cable modems, and Ameritech (AIT) has said it will offer wireless local access service regionally. Internet access is not a must for many companies, but the lure of videoconferencing, sending multimedia presentations, and backing up information has driven up demand for access speed.

While large corporations can afford T1 lines that can transfer at up to 1.54 mbps, Warp thinks there's a market for a service that can scale even faster. Access Service customers will be able to easily add capacity in incremental steps without buying new equipment, Warp says.

Warp's Access Service transmits information over microwave frequencies normally used for television transmission. In the San Jose, California, area, for instance, data is transmitted over a portion of the spectrum reserved for channel 22. Wave has exclusive use of this spectrum, and says it can support up to 30,000 customers in the San Jose area. The service isn't as susceptible to disruption as wireless service that uses radio frequencies, the company said.

Customers receive the data through an antenna. Businesses will buy routers, which support up to 20 individual users, while home users will use cable modems. The antenna unit costs $150, the router $1195. The single-user cable modem costs $396.

Warp says that pricing for the basic, unlimited Internet access service at 256 kbps will start at $125 per month. The service will be made available through Internet service provider partners, as well as through system integrators. No partnerships were announced today, however.