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NEWS RELEASE

April 1, 2002

Media Contact:
   Media Contact: Doug Ramsey (858) 822-5825, dramsey@ucsd.edu

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UC SAN DIEGO UNVEILS WORLD'S FIRST BUS WITH MOBILE, HIGH-SPEED INTERNET ACCESS

 

San Diego--Engineers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) have unveiled the world’s first bus that enables its passengers to access the Internet and download files at a peak speed of 2.4 Megabits per second--even while the bus is moving.

The broadband wireless bus, dubbed the CyberShuttle, combines a fully mobile 802.11b wireless local area network inside the bus, with Web access through QUALCOMM's CDMA2000 1xEV wireless wide area data network installed at the company's San Diego headquarters and at the nearby UCSD campus. "Our students and faculty are getting a taste today of wireless technology that most of the world will not be using until years from now," said  Elazar Harel, the university's Assistant Vice Chancellor for Administrative Computing and Telecommunications (ACT). "This bus is one of the first places where we’ll be able to experiment with technical as well as social aspects of third-generation (3G) wireless services in a real-world environment."  UCSD is already operating a large production 802.11b wireless network on campus, and its faculty and staff have been testing QUALCOMM's 1xEV technology for about two years.  "We are very excited about this initiative and are thankful to QUALCOMM and to all UCSD participants for their contributions to the project," Harel added.

The CyberShuttle is part of an ongoing initiative undertaken by ACT, UCSD's Irwin and Joan Jacobs School of Engineering, and the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology [Cal-(IT)2]. "Thanks to QUALCOMM, we have access to the most advanced wireless network in the world," noted Ramesh Rao, a leading wireless expert and director of the UCSD division of Cal-(IT)2. "Now we are tapping into that network, and encouraging our researchers and industry partners to develop new services and technologies that lead to anytime/anywhere high-speed access to the World Wide Web."

The commuter bus shuttles students, faculty and visitors between the main UCSD campus in La Jolla, CA, and the Sorrento Valley train station. The trip typically takes 15-20 minutes, enough time for commuters to check email or surf the Web. Passengers can also watch streaming video or listen to high-fidelity music, because they are connected to the Internet in a dedicated 1.25 MHz channel at speeds up to 2.4 Megabits per second--many times faster than conventional "wired" access using 56K modems.  "The campus already has 1,200 users registered to use 802.11, and all of them can just as easily log on while riding the bus," said Greg Hidley, head of technology infrastructure for Cal-(IT)2 and director of Engineering Computing for the Jacobs School. "To use their laptops or personal digital assistants online, all they need is the same wireless card they use elsewhere on campus, and they are automatically handed off from the local network, through the 1xEV network, to the Internet."

1xEV is formally known as 'CDMA2000, High Rate Packet Data Air Interface Specification' and is QUALCOMM's first 3G offering. The company's facilities are  equipped with 1xEV antennas, providing coverage up to a 10-mile radius. In 2001, the company installed similar equipment on top of the nearby Jacobs School for use in engineering, wireless, and related research projects. A team led by ACT's Lou Forbis and Don McLaughlin configured and deployed the broadband system for the bus, linking an off-the-shelf 802.11 access point with a 1xEV modem, both running on electric power from the bus's battery.

Now that the mobile broadband system is up and running on the bus, researchers are looking for other ways to experiment with the technology. "We are getting ready to test a backpack version," said Hidley. "It's an access point-in-a-box that would allow you to take it anywhere on campus and create a zone within a radius of 300 feet where users could get onto the Internet using 802.11b and CDMA2000 1xEV technology."

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