According to sources, Sprint PCS will announce Thursday its Digital Link Springboard module, based on AirPrime technology, that allows Visor users to make phone calls and surf the web on the Sprint PCS network from anywhere in the US. The module will provide 7 hours of talk time and 11-13 days of standby time.
The Digital Link will begin shipping in September for $249. Although considerably more expensive than the $49 VisorPhone (with service), the Digital Link can be used in more locations and is 3G-ready. Current Sprint PCS customers can add the Digital Link to their plan for an additional $10-$20 a month. The module will be available online and in Sprint PCS retail stores.
Digital Link incorporates QUALCOMM's newest MSM5105 integrated circuit and system software, which supports 3G cdma2000 1x data rates of 144 kbps and is backward compatible with IS-95A/B at data rates of 14.4/64 kbps today.
When wireless carriers upgrade their networks, beginning in early 2002, data rates of 144 kbps are expected to become available.
Because the Digital Link incorporates 3G 1x chip technology, people will be able to gracefully transition to higher wireless data speeds on their Handspring Visor and enjoy a rich wireless Internet browsing experience without having to purchase additional hardware.
"By working closely with Sprint PCS and QUALCOMM, AirPrime has developed a product that not only delivers leading edge wireless connectivity for people using Handspring Visors today, but also takes advantage of Sprint's advanced 3G 1x network as soon as it is available," said Mark Steele, AirPrime's Senior Vice President of Product and Program Management.
CDMA is the fastest growing and most popular wireless air interface in North America. Current IS95A networks support 14.4 kbps while IS95B networks in Asia support 64 kbps. Future deployments of CDMA 3G technology (cdma2000 1x, cdma2000 1xEV) will support data speeds from 144 kbps to 2.4 Mbps. Analysts expect that wireless data subscribers will surpass one billion by 2005 as the world continues to migrate toward 3G technology.
I'm in the market for a cell phone, and the Digital Link module makes Sprint PCS more appealing. I got to see the module at PC Expo, and it is slightly more contoured than the VisorPhone, making it easier to hold next to your ear.