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InterCel in GPRS test phase with telcos

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InterCel is conducting tests with Australia’s largest telco providers on a new mobile device designed to fulfil the transition from 2G GSM to 2.5G general packet radio service (GPRS).

The FastTrack GPRS modem is currently being tested by Telstra, Optus and Vodafone in Australia and is expected to be in use by the end of July, according to InterCel business development manager Carl Fowler.

“The easiest way to describe it is a mobile phone without a screen or keypad,” Fowler said.

“By simply inserting a SIM card you can send data, fax, SMS or do a voice call with an earpiece and microphone, so it really replaces a GSM phone but is designed for industrial purposes such as remote meter reading, PLCs and SCADA.”

Fowler said the GSM/GPRS modem is suitable for any telemetry purposes, such that ‘anything you can do on PSTN you can do with a wireless modem using a SIM card’.

While testing is not holding up product development, Fowler conceded it is taking time as the telcos are learning as much about GPRS as device manufacturers.

“It’s as much a learning curve for the telcos as it is for the manufacturers,” Fowler continued.

“The GSM side of the modem has already been tested and approved so it’s just the completion of GPRS testing that we’re waiting on.”

The company is primarily targeting systems integrators of varying levels of sophistication with the product, which has a 44-pin systems connector instead of a traditional RS232 port – allowing it to be mounted to a circuit board.

The FastTrack GPRS is also complementary to the Wavecom products, which have sold in excess of 50,000 units in Australia.

“Because of the price reduction from the Wavecom line, we expect to sell 20,000 units of the FastTrack GPRS in the next 12 months,” Fowler added.

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