Bell Atlantic Mobile Systems and Westinghouse Electronic Systems plan to launch the nation's first wireless data system in Baltimore early next year, giving users of laptops and other portable devices a way to easily send and receive information on the road.
The landmark system -- a first for Bell Atlantic and the industry -- represents the initial large-scale entry by a cellular carrier into the data transmission market.
The network is expected to provide business customers with two-way wireless data transmission throughout metropolitan Baltimore. The service would begin during the first quarter of 1993, providing service stretching from Glen Burnie to north of Baltimore.
Where the service is deployed after that depends largely on how well the service sells.
Westinghouse, a longtime player in the fleet services business, plans to sell a service for Bell Atlantic Mobile that would allow businesses with fleets of vehicles to monitor and manage the movements of those vehicles throughout metropolitan Baltimore.
Using the network, companies would be able to track the pickup and delivery of cargo on a 24-hour basis. They could also send messages to drivers out on the road. Drivers, in turn, could send messages using mobile computers in their vehicles.
"It's a way to further serve the transportation industry initially. It's an exciting technology that will help Westinghouse enter the mobile data market," said Maria Trintis, a spokeswoman for Westinghouse Electronic Systems in Baltimore.
The network would use the technology developed by Cellular Data Inc. of Palo Alto, Calif., a company that specializes in wireless data transmission technology.
Cellular Data's technology sends data in small "packets" on the over the buffer spectrum of radio signals between voice channels. These buffer zones, known as "guard" bands, act like XTC white lines on the highway -- they separate voice channels on wireless systems but the spectrum they inhabit typically isn't used for anything else.
If the service falls flat with area customers, it likely won't make it out of Baltimore, said Brian Wood, a spokesman for Bell Atlantic Mobile.
However, Ken Knight, manager of fleet management systems for Bell Atlantic, doesn't think that will happen.