Telcos' latest threat: large-scale Wi-Fi

22 Jun 2006

Telecom carriers' worst fears of free wireless VoIP calls are about to be realized, thanks to two Asian startups. Hong Kong-based Altai yesterday unveiled the world's first long-range Wi-Fi system, with a radius of up to 2 kilometers and a non-line of sight range of 500 meters. A typical hotspot today has range of about 100 meters and requires direct line of sight.

Altai and its partner company, The Red Snapper (TRS), based in Kuala Lumpur, have already sold the system to a Malaysian ISP and a Philippines fixed-line operator.

TRS CEO Braham Singh said the Altai gear would be targeted at second-tier carriers and ISPs around the region, enabling them to offer low-cost wireless voice services. 'Those smaller carriers are sick and tired of playing second fiddle,' he said. 'Their fixed-line growth is stagnant, they can't get into mobile. This is their opportunity.'

TRS offers a Wi-Fi client which can be loaded onto a smartphone that enables seamless transfer between cellular and Wi-Fi. 'This is a first in Asia, or the US for that matter,' said Singh.

The two firms are targeting enterprises with a package that includes both the base stations and Wi-Fi handsets. 'Companies can just rip out their PBXs,' said Singh.

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