PORTLAND, Ore. -- What's claimed to be the world's first reference design for a combined satellite/terrestrial wireless handset was rolled out by Elektrobit Corp. (EB, Oulunsalo, Finland) this week at the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association (CTIA) Wireless Conference (April 1-3, 2008, Las Vegas, Nev.). The satellite-terrestrial communications handset was developed by EB in cooperation with TerreStar Corp. (Reston, Va.), which aims to be the first mobile-network operator to own and operate a 4G integrated mobile satellite and terrestrial communications network throughout North America.
"After Hurricane Katrina hit, wiping out all the cellular basestations, there has been a lot of interest in dual-use handsets that can access satellite services whenever cellular towers go out of service. We have the first reference design that original equipment manufacturers can use to actually build such handsets," said Jani Lyrintzis, director of the professional terminals business in EB's mobile terminal solutions division. "We created the satellite-terrestrial handset with TerreStar, which is a carriers-carrier; essentially a wholesaler that will sell not to end-users but to other carriers who wish to use their hybrid satellite and terrestrial network that covers all of North America."
The satellite-terrestrial communications handset has both a touch-screen like the iPhone as well as a full Qwerty keyboard operated with the thumbs. For its terrestrial cellular connections the satellite/terrestrial communications handset uses Infineon's chipset, and for the satellite connection it uses technology from Hughes Network Systems (Germantown, Md.).
EB will also be showing two other reference designs it hopes to convince OEMs to adopt, including, its own Mobile Internet Multimedia Device, which has a full Qwerty keyboard, uses Intel's Menlo processor and the Window's CE operating system; it can access multiple networks from cellular to WiFi. EB will also be showing the Mobile WiMax smart phone reference design, which it created in cooperation with NextWave Wireless Inc. (San Diego).
Its WiMax mobile handset reference design uses NextWave Wireless's own chipset, consisting of a WiMax baseband SoC (system on a chip) and a companion multi-band RFIC (radio frequency integrated circuit). This reference design debuted at the Mobile World Congress (Feb. 11-14, 2008, Barcelona) and is now being offered to OEMs. For the WiMax handset, EB integrated NextWave Wireless's chipset into a reference design for which it provided the mechanical design, antenna specification, software configuration and integration of third-party components.