Calit² celebrated a prototypical example of the benefits of university-industrial partnerships November 29: the next phase of testing of Qualcomm's High-Data Rate ([HDR], now known as CDMA 2000 1XEV) technology. HDR is a new 3G wireless technology that will support next-generation, high-speed IP data services. The HDR implementation on the roof of Engineering Building Unit 1, Jacobs School of Engineering, UCSD, has a radius of about 10 kilometers with burst rates up to 2.4 Mbps.
Bob Conn, dean of UCSD's Jacobs School of Engineering, in opening comments, mentioned that this implementation is allowing UCSD faculty and students to test and debug this technology in an operational environment, and experiment with applying it in new realms, such as Sixth College. Sixth College, the newest college established at UCSD with plans to be "born wireless," will admit its first students -- approximately 330 -- next fall. Administrators are hopeful that Sixth College's testbed environment will help identify beneficial telecommunications and information technologies that can be brought to bear across the rest of campus.
Roberto Padovani, Qualcomm chief technology officer, told the attendees that, around 1996, Qualcomm management began thinking of changing its focus from voice to data. The company started prototyping a system in 1998 and shared it with UCSD technology leaders last year for feedback and alpha testing. This product will have its formal commercial launch next March in Korea, with other countries watching closely for a successful launch with a wide range of commercial applications.
Haleh Motamedi, Qualcomm's director of technical marketing, described the product as a high-performance, cost-effective wireless Internet solution for consumers and business professionals. It's being designed for PCMCIA cards, portable digital assistants, and systems with fixed modems.
At UCSD, HDR is being combined with 802.11b wireless to distribute signals locally across the campus. Ramesh Rao, UCSD division director for Calit², said two initial projects are planned: Implementing HDR antennas on busses that rove the campus, and distributing "backpack" implementations that combine HDR with a PC for students to test in as-yet non-wireless pockets of campus.
Greg Hidley, director of Engineering Computing, Jacobs School of Engineering, and head, Technology Infrastructure, Calit², led a question-and-answer session and closed out the session with the promise of a forthcoming "call for new users and new experiments" to enlarge the group experimenting with the technology.