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February 20, 2006

Making a Seattle connection abroad

Posted by Tricia Duryee at 11:37 AM

LONDON -- A note from the 3GSM notebook:

The last booth run I made was to visit Bellevue-based RadioFrame Networks.

The company, started by ex-McCaw Communications executives, has been plugging away at building its technology for some time. At the show, it finally unveiled its long- awaited product, the "S-Series IP Picocell Base Transceiver Station."

Not as sexy as it could be maybe. In plainer words, it's essentially a mini-cellphone tower for your home or business to ensure to get good cellphone coverage indoors. It's a technology considered "disruptive" because many people have been reluctant to "cut the cord" because indoor cellphone coverage can still be shoddy.

Jeff Brown, RadioFrame president and CEO, said carriers will be able to use the box to offer new calling plans. For instance, at home, carriers could offer users all-they-can-eat minutes for only $10 more a month. Compared with the $20 or $30 a month landline bill, that becomes attractive.

The current product is about the size of a thin textbook. A smaller and cheaper version is expected to be available shortly.

The box still requires a way to backhaul the voice traffic -- with DSL or cable -- into the home or business. Or possibly WiMax, Brown said. The obvious partner is Kirkland-based Clearwire, Craig McCaw's new company. And, coincidentally, Clearwire was using RadioFrame Networks booth to demonstrate its wireless broadband devices.

Small world, isn't it?

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Tricia Duryee
Tricia Duryee
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