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Lucent makes bold claims for wireless technology

July 16, 1999
Web posted at: 9:27 a.m. EDT (1327 GMT)

by Jeff Partyka


(IDG) -- Lucent Technologies on Wednesday promised the ability to transmit the equivalent of 15 CD-ROMs through the air in less than a second via its new WaveStar OpticAir networking system.

The Bell Labs-designed system -- "about the size of birdhouse or mailbox," according to Lucent Optical Networking Group Chief Operating Officer Harry Bosco -- uses lasers, amplifiers, and receivers placed on rooftops or in windows to transmit voice, data, or video communications through the air.

"This is the first optical networking system to use dense wave division multiplexing [DWDM] technology through the air to increase network capacity in densely populated urban or campus environments where it may be impractical to install fiber," Bosco said.
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DWDM technology allows increased network capacity by transmitting multiple wavelengths of light at the same time, each of which carries specific streams of data.

According to Lucent, telecommunications service provider Global Crossing plans to conduct field trials of the WaveStar system before the end of the year. Lucent expects a marketplace introduction of one wavelength at 2.5Gbps next March. By the third quarter of 2000, the company plans to offer four wavelengths at 10Gbps.

"This system opens up numerous and exciting possibilities for our customers," Bosco said. "They can now share data between high-rise buildings separated by a river, or it can be used by naval ships offshore to transmit critical data to bases on land."

Lucent also touted the technology's cost effectiveness.

"The cost per wavelength is the same as with any traditional fiber-based system," said Kathleen Szelag, a marketing vice president at Lucent. "It's neither cheaper nor more expensive. The difference is that there's no fiber, so you'll save the cost of fiber."

The new optical networking system should not be seen as a replacement for fiber-optic systems, Szelag added.

"If fiber is in the ground, we would assume that people would use that and not shoot through the air," Szelag said. "You would use it when you don't have fiber. If it turned out you don't have fiber in your campus, and it's difficult to put it in, this would be the way you'd go. And you don't need a license, you don't need right-of-way clearance -- you just shoot through the air."

Jeff Partyka is a Boston correspondent for the IDG News Service, an InfoWorld affiliate.

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