i-BURST is an affordable, high speed, mobile broadband wireless access system, that ArrayComm calls ‘Personal Broadband’, designed to provide any kind of device with wireless connectivity to Internet services over a wide area.
At the point when PA became involved, ArrayComm had already developed the core i-BURST technology and had built an initial laboratory prototype. This prototype worked well but it was in the form of a large assembly, which did not reflect a final product design, either in terms of size, aesthetic appearance or functionality. For these reasons, it was less than ideal for presentation to prospective partners such as telecoms operators and equipment manufacturers.
ArrayComm asked PA to develop a number of integrated demonstrator terminals to be used for field trials and business development. The aim was to create a unit that, as well as demonstrating i-BURST in action, also had the visual appeal, small size and functionality of a product. ArrayComm wanted the new terminal to be as close as possible to a final production design in order to simplify the transition from prototype to volume manufacture.
Because of tight deadlines, PA would need to carry out a number of processes in parallel rather than following a traditional sequential project structure. For example, integration and test work would have to continue even while the unit was being manufactured. To add to the challenge, ArrayComm would continue to work on the i-BURST specification while PA was building the demonstrator.
ArrayComm considered PA for this part of the project as the companies had collaborated successfully in the past. ArrayComm knew that PA had the breadth of expertise to cover every aspect of the project – including baseband electronics, RF, software, industrial and mechanical design, power electronics and design-for-manufacture.
PA overcame a number of unforeseen obstacles. For example, unavoidable delays in one area meant that test equipment was not available as planned. However, PA was able to develop its own customised test equipment and as a result was able to keep the overall project on schedule.
PA delivered over 100 manufactured demonstrators to ArrayComm for the field trials and business development activities.
With the assignment complete, the demonstrator has begun proving its worth in helping ArrayComm’s i-BURST technology penetrate the marketplace. ArrayComm is now successfully marketing the technology and has, for example, signed a US$25 million deal with a consortium of investors, including Vodafone Australia, to construct an i-BURST network in Australia. The demonstrator has also helped the company to sign up major manufacturers to make the devices in volume production.
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