Air Communications Inc. has unveiled an all-in-one cellular voice-data-facsimile telephone called the AirCommunicator that uses a proprietary protocol to transmit on circuit-switched analog cellular networks.
“We’ve pioneered a product that works as a fully featured data communications tool-in essence, replicating the user’s desktop environment,” said Dan Seale, president and chief executive officer of Air Communications.
By integrating radio frequency and modem technologies, the company is converging several popular telecommunications mediums into a new product category that it says will provide greater functionality while reducing the implementation burden for the end-user.
AirCommunicator provides up to 16 minutes of voice-mail storage and up to 37 pages of fax storage, the company said. While the voice messages can be played back on the cellular earpiece, the fax messages can only be read when the device is hooked up to a laptop/notebook computer or personal digital assistant via the serial port.
In that configuration, Air Communicator also can send and receive electronic mail and alphanumeric pages as well as provide on-line access, the company said. The unit includes an RJ-11 jack for landline transmission.
Air Communications claims its transmission protocol-AirTrue-can achieve a first-time connect rate of 94 percent with a data throughput rate of 14.4 kilobits per second. As a cellular-side-only protocol, AirTrue offers universal interoperability with host modems, the company said.
In addition to targeting the 10 million mobile data subscribers some analysts project for the year 2000, Air Communications believes many of today’s 28 million cellular voice subscribers will be looking to add data communications capabilities. In particular, the company views its product’s ability to send and receive faxes without the need of a computer as a key differentiator for AirCommunicator compared to other wireless data solutions.
Ameritech Cellular Services announced this month it will add the AirCommunicator to its array of wireless data product offerings.
“Today’s customers have grown accustomed to cellular phones and are comfortable with the technology. Adding data functions to a product that already includes voice is the natural next step for us,” said John Rooney, president of Ameritech Cellular.
The company said it will market the product through its direct wireless data sales force, its value-added dealers and in select cellular retail centers. Ameritech said it will be the exclusive distributor of AirCommunicator in the Midwest until March 1996.