For a cellular carrier competing in a growing marketplace, value-added services translate into more revenue. A small Silicon Valley development firm plans to deliver on that concept.

San Jose, Calif.-based Aeris Communications Inc., formerly known as Axion Logistics Corp., plans to position itself as a value-added reseller for cellular carriers by offering its new patented technology called MicroBurst, an air interface protocol that allows short messaging relay over cellular networks.

Like BellSouth Corp.’s Cellemetry data service, Microburst uses overhead cellular control channels to deliver short bursts of information to provide services such as remote meter reading, vending machine monitoring and vehicle location. Microburst, however, completes small-packet data transmission differently.

Aeris said its service, which is compatible with any analog network or digital overlay network that uses analog overhead control channels, employs a hub-central approach requiring no hardware in the field and no system upgrades or software modifications of any kind. “Carriers can choose to be completely passive. There is no infrastructure investment or change. We’ve designed it that way in the Microburst transmitter,” said Dick Gossen, chairman and chief executive officer of Aeris.

The company has built a signaling overlay on the Signaling System 7 network to route data in Remote Access Applications Message packets via Aeris’ nationwide network. Data is then transmitted from the Aeris data hub to its distribution channels or service providers via the Internet, employing dedicated socket or dial-up connections as needed. The service carries one-and-a half to two times the data per packet over Cellemetry, the company said.

“The transaction is passed seamlessly on the [cellular] switch and moved to us,” said Gossen. “We handle the processing and deliver it to a computer … We bill our clients and turn around and write checks to the carriers.”

Because Microburst incorporates a hub-based approach when delivering its services, it is inherently mobile, said Aeris. The architecture allows it to roam automatically to any location in the country.

“Our carrier relationships are coming together very quickly. We are going to be able to put together a nationwide footprint before the end of 1997,” said Gossen.

Aeris said Microburst and Cellemetry can co-exist in the same system, allowing competing or complementary services to be offered over a particular carrier’s airwaves. Cellemetry has signed eight new contracts since it was launched almost a year ago, and now provides total coverage to 125 million pops in North America.

The company’s second interest is to license Microburst technologies to cellular carriers that are interested in using it to provide enhanced services.

“We encourage the carriers to embrace the technology themselves,” said Gossen. “We have a second interest in applications such as two-way paging and two-way messaging. A number of carriers are now deploying [short message service] done under a TDMA or CDMA environment. These SS7 services are usually one way. What’s missing is the low cost response. Microburst provides the perfect low cost response. It can turn one-way SMS to two-way SMS.”

Gossen said carriers will be able to load Microburst software into a conventional message capable phone to allow for full two-way SMS. Users will have the ability to acknowledge a page or emulate two-way paging. “It allows for revenue generation and is a competitive weapon they (the carriers) cannot otherwise obtain,” said Gossen.

Gossen said Microburst is expected to become commercially available by the end of second quarter. The service is not compatible with digital control channels, but Gossen said the company is developing a version for personal communications services carriers. They are busy building out their networks and are not yet ready to deploy data services, he said.


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