Nextel Extends WAN Inward

Solution exploits WAN infrastructure.

Nextel Communications Inc. and RadioFrame Networks Inc. are preparing to launch a set of products and services that improve in-building network coverage for Nextels wireless users.

The joint solution, to be announced in the next few weeks, is called Integrated IDEN/WLAN because it lets users deploy a wireless LAN over an infrastructure that supports a WAN.

As part of the package, Nextel will resell RadioFrames RadioFrame Unit, a hardware bay that houses as many as seven transceivers that improve radio frequency coverage inside a building. The system supports Nextels IDEN (Integrated Digital Enhanced Network) and the 802.11b standard. Support is forthcoming for GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) as well as for 802.11a and 802.11g, said officials at RadioFrame, in Bellevue, Wash. The transceivers in the unit can be upgraded along with an enterprises WLAN or a carriers WAN.

Integrated IDEN/WLAN

Who provides what:

  • RadioFrame The RadioFrame Unit, a hardware bay that houses up to seven transceivers to improve in-building coverage
  • Nextel Installation and consulting services, wireless PBXes, handsets, and voice and data plans
  • Motorola Inc. WAN infrastructure
"Were giving our customers the chance to take advantage of one set infrastructure," said Greg Santoro, vice president of Internet and wireless services at Nextel, in Reston, Va. "As we come to further updates for our own networks, that will get added into the RadioFrame network as an extension." Nextel will also provide site survey and installation services, along with PBXes, WLAN equipment, and voice and data services and applications.

While the solution improves handoff between WAN radio signals inside and outside a building and improves WLAN signals, it does not hand off signals between a WAN and a WLAN.

Meanwhile, in the next 30 days, RadioFrame plans to announce a partnership with a major GSM operator in the United States, similar to the partnership with Nextel, RadioFrame officials said.

Support for CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) is possible, but officials said there are no immediate plans to team with a CDMA carrier. Observers say this may be an error since RadioFrame is no longer the only in-building game in town. For example, InnerWireless Inc. provides in-building coverage at Rockefeller Center, in New York, in a partnership with Sprint PCS Group, a CDMA carrier.

"Ive been a fan of RadioFrame for a long time," said Fran Rabuck, president of Rabuck Associates, a consultancy in Philadelphia, and an eWEEK Corporate Partner. "However, others are chasing them and have implementations that are broader across various wireless carriers. Not doing CDMA is a showstopper for me."