UC Wireless: Spread Spectrum Communications

Utilicom / UC Wireless Company Profile

Based in Santa Barbara, CA, Utilicom designed, manufactured, integrated and marketed broadband wireless Internet access and data transmission network products. The company's core competency was in direct sequence spread spectrum communications, and its products operated in the 900 MHz and 2.4 GHz license-exempt Industrial, Scientific and Medical [ISM] frequency bands.

By August 2000, the company's family of broadband wireless Internet access products supported data rates up to 11Mbit/s. Utilicom's engineers developed a proprietary VINE [Versatile Intelligent Network Environment] protocol permitting the implementation of long distance, medium subscriber density broadband Internet access networks a node-at-a-time. VINE networks should have significantly lower costs than conventional cell-based networks, especially during the early phases of network buildout. The VINE technology was the basis for Wi-LAN's purchase of the company in 2001, and Wi-LAN still sells the VIP 110-24 product developed by Utilicom / UC Wireless.

Although the VINE Medium Access Layer [MAC] protocols were proprietary and covered by intellectual property filings, all end-user interfaces are industry standard. Full wireless bridging and routing applications, as well as full support for the TCP/IP protocols required for Internet access, are incorporated in the company's products. The VINE software technology is adaptable to multiple RF frequency bands, including the licensed MMDS [Multi-channel Multi-point Distribution Services] band.

For private data transmission network applications, data rates up to 11 Mbit/s are supported in point-to-point and point-to-multi-point applications. Wilan Technologies' products have extremely low Bit Error Rate [BER] performances at distances up to 30 km with only 1 Watt transmit power. See How Far and How Fast.

Participation In FCC Rule Making Process

Dean Gaston, co-founder of the company, was involved with the development of classified spread spectrum technology for the U.S. Navy for a number of years. Mr. Gaston personally influenced the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) rule making process that permits license-exempt commercial applications using spread spectrum technology.

Early Focus

The initial business plan of Wilan Technologies (or then UtiliCom) focused on the transition of the founder's military design expertise to highly reliable, cost-effective commercial products. The early focus was low data rate, low cost spread spectrum RF modems with superior interference rejection for wireless utility meter reading. The company's original name, UtiliCom [Utility Communications] derives from this early focus. More than 500,000 transceivers based on UtiliCom designs are now in service in this highly demanding, mission critical application.

In order to focus WTI’s technology on the rapidly growing telecommunications markets, the company sold the rights to the utility meter reading products in December 1997, and exited the utility meter reading market.

More than $10 million was invested in the development of these products and the proprietary implementation of our spread spectrum technology. In 1997, the core technology developed was successfully adapted for telecommunications applications. Over 6,000 Utilicom-built spread spectrum units were installed in a variety of private network applications in the USA and forty other countries.

Wireless IP Networking

In mid-1999, UC Wireless introduced a second-generation wireless IP access product, the WINRouter 2050. The company's IP network focus was broadband wireless Internet access for small/medium businesses outside of the concentrated urban core areas where large geographic areas and dispersed end-users predominate. The WINRouter 2050 combined proprietary VINE software technology, wireless access and routing capabilities, support for the TCP/IP protocols necessary for Internet access, plus a high bandwidth spread spectrum transceiver capable of 30 km range.

The WINRouter 2050 operated at 1.7 Mbit/s packet data rates. In August of 2001, an 11 Mbit/s VINE product, the VIP 110-24, was introduced. The VIP 110-24 also utilizes the VINE protocol and as such supports multiple, functionally partitioned antennas. As a result, it can serve as both collection points for access terminals as well as back-haul transmission elements. This dual functionality permits a VINE network to cover large geographic areas more cost effectively than conventional cell-based networks. The bottom line is that the VIP 110-24 product family enables Wi-LAN's customers to build widely dispersed, thin-route, broadband wireless Internet access networks with less capital investment than would be needed with conventional networks.

Customer Support

Utilicom provided a high level of direct support to our customers including on-line engineering assistance and field support. Seminars on spread spectrum technology and product applications to specialized markets were held in various parts of the world to meet local in-country needs. Utilicom maintained a Direct Sales organization and an international network of Distributors, Value Added Re-Sellers, Systems Integrators and Agents. The company had offices in California, with sales and distribution presence in more than forty countries worldwide.


ISO 9001 certified contract manufacturers manufactured products. Final assembly, test and product configuration were done internally in order to insure consistently high product quality.

UC Wireless, Inc. 81 David Love Place, Goleta, CA 93117 USA
Layout ©2000 UtiliCom Inc.

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