Researchers at NEC have taken wireless connectivity to new levels by successfully demonstrating handovers between access points while travelling past them at bullet-train speed.

In trials earlier this month at a car test track north of Tokyo the company says it successfully demonstrated in-house developed software that allows for a fast sign-on and handover between standard access points.

The experiment involved four IEEE 802.11b access points placed at 500 metre intervals along a portion of the Japan Automobile Research Institute's test track in Ibaraki prefecture, said Yasuhito Jochi, a spokesman for NEC in Tokyo. The access points were connected to a router and it is in this router that NEC's high-speed handover software was installed.

A Porsche car travelling at 330kph (kilometres per hour), equivalent to 205mph (miles per hour), sped past the access points while software managed the switch from the first point to the successive one, he said.

The uninterrupted session was confirmed by a notebook computer and camera in the car, which remained connected to a NetMeeting server as the car drove through each of the access point coverage areas, according to Jochi. The test also included the downloading of a file to the PC in the car from a web server.

The software that allows the fast handover has been developed for use in intelligent transportation system (ITS) applications and could be used to keep an internet connection with cars running along a highway or high-speed trains, said NEC. The speed attained by NEC falls around the average rates achieved by super-express trains such as Japan's Shinkansen (bullet train) and France's TGV.

With the successful test of the system NEC is ready to begin sales, said Jochi.

The company will provide details of the software and test at the 10th World Congress and Exhibition on Intelligent Transport Systems and Services in Madrid, Spain, from 16 to 20 November.

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