Carson City to become wireless test track
April 19, 2004
The Eagle Valley the bowl in which Carson City sits likely will become the world’s largest test track for makers of wireless broadband systems.
The cornerstone of the test track would be a wireless test facility to be developed by InterPlex International along Highway 50 on the eastern lip of the Eagle Valley.
The company is seeking city approval to develop the 9,000-square-foot test facility in one of the former hangars for small aircraft that InterPlex occupies.
Along with the text facility, the test track would include antennas at locations including Western Nevada Community College and city hall.
James Parker, the chief technology officer for InterPlex, said the 6.5-mile test track would allow broadband companies to test the reliability and security of their systems.
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No similar facilities exist anywhere in the world, Parker said, although a handful of small indoor test tracks have been created.
InterPlex, which has made a good living helping clients keep old computer systems up to date, believes that wireless broadband and related technologies are about to explode, and developers of the technology increasingly will be required to demonstrate security and reliability.
Driving the technology, Parker said, is the move of major companies such as Wal-Mart to radio-frequency identification systems RFID, for short to monitor inventories.
Those systems rely on computer chips and transponders attached to shipments, which then are automatically tracked.
The InterPlex testing facility will include private facilities where manufacturers can conduct proprietary research as well as a 120-person meeting room for major training sessions.
Richard Kelsey, chief executive officer and senior managing partner of InterPlex, said company expects the facility to be operational in about 120 days after city approval.
Said Parker, “I think we could have a good crop of students in September.”
Privately held InterPlex is sinking most of its earnings from its profitable dataintegration business into the wireless testing initiative.
Kelsey said the company may look for equity partners as it moves forward, but he said the company will be selective about its choice of investors.
That reflects a long-standing belief of Parker, who’s worked in technology industries for 45 years.
As a 21-year-old at IBM, Parker wrote a list of words that are important to him.Tops on the list: “Freedom.” And that includes, he said, the freedom to explore technology without looking over his shoulders at investors.
Those explorations recently led him to create modular radio antennas that can be quickly deployed to create wireless broadband systems.
A prototype of the system has drawn interest from security specialists who see its usefulness in quickly creating wireless broadband systems around facilities that might be threatened by terrorists.
Even while it’s focusing on the new wireless test track, InterPlex expects its data-integration business to remain strong for at least the next several years.
Its customers, Kelsey said, include ABB Ltd., Swiss automation technology company and Twentieth Century Fox.
InterPlex clients seek the company’s help in integrating legacy computer systems some of them 15 years old into current operations.
“I don’t think we’re going to see people wanting to get rid of their legacy systems,” Parker said.