- Australian researchers unveiled a chip that lets cell-phone users receive high-quality face-to-face video and other streaming media at rates faster than a home broadband connection.
Developed at Bell Labs in Australia, the chip works on a next-generation cell-phone network like the one powering the Sprint PCS Vision service and can run programs at up to 24 megabits per second — almost 20 times faster than a traditional T1 line.
....We're talking about data rates competitive with the most advanced broadband wired modems," said Chris Nicol, lead researcher for the team that developed the chip.
Industry analysts said the chip could compete head-to-head with Wi-Fi wireless Internet networks, which have been hugely popular in coffee shops, homes, libraries and offices, but can deliver data to a PC at up to only 11 megabits per second.
....The big question, however, is whether Bell Labs' turbo chip can compete with Wi-Fi on price, Bruederle said.
Most Wi-Fi customers don't pay more than $40 a month for service. But Bruederle pointed out that using a cell phone as a modem for Internet access or running Internet applications on a wireless device powered by a cell-phone network could prove to be expensive — many carriers charge by the minute.
Also, Wi-Fi technology operates on a slice of airwaves that is largely unregulated by the government and can be used without a charge. Cell-phone carriers, on the other hand, paid millions, if not billions, of dollars for their wireless spectrum. As a result, they're looking for ways to recoup those costs — most likely at the expense of their customers, Bruederle said.
"It's a question of economics," he said. [Wired]