We've seen oodles of dual-mode handsets, but none quite like this. Rather than boasting two radios, two keyboards or two faces, NEC's N-06A -- which is gearing up to debut on NTT DoCoMo over in Japan -- actually has two purposes. Aside from making calls on the carrier's FOMA network, the phone can actually double as a wireless access point when AP Mode is enabled. The handset packs a cutting-edge Atheros AR6002 module, which enables handsets to operate in infrastructure mode, the primary wireless connectivity framework employed in access points, routers, laptops and other WLAN devices. In other words, your netbook (and seven other WiFi-enabled devices) can hop online via your handset, and it's far easier than the wacky tethering methods we deal with today. Other specs include an 8.1 megapixel camera, HSDPA / WLAN models and a miraculous 3.2-inch touchscreen with an 854 x 480 resolution. There's no mention of a price or ship date for the handset, but more than that, we're thirsty for details on when this chipset will be featured in a handset that's headed to US soil. Check the full release after the break.

NEC's N-06A dual-mode handset acts like a WiFi access point

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Atheros Delivers First Mobile Infrastructure Mode Functionality to NTT DOCOMO Customers in NEC's New, Dual-Mode Handset

Atheros AP Mode Enables 3G and 4G Smartphones to Bring Internet Connectivity and Content to Mobile PANs

SANTA CLARA, May 19, 2009 - Atheros Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: ATHR), a global leader in innovative technologies for wireless and wired communications, announced today that its revolutionary AP Mode technology is now offered by NTT DOCOMO, INC. to its FOMATM customers with the new NEC N-06A dual-mode handset, docomo PRIME seriesTM. This new smartphone is the first on the market that uses Atheros AP Mode technology to allow users to connect their Wi-Fi®-enabled laptops and devices to the Internet without an access point (AP) present. This groundbreaking Atheros' mobile WLAN technology significantly expands the functionality of the handset, enabling a wide array of new applications for mobile users.
AP Mode, an optional feature of the Atheros AR6002 Radio-on-Chip for Mobile (ROCm®) WLAN solution, allows handsets to operate in infrastructure mode, the primary wireless connectivity framework employed in access points, routers, laptops and other WLAN devices. Infrastructure mode offers significant advantages such as greater ease of use and lower power consumption over ad-hoc mode, a legacy approach to device connectivity. In infrastructure mode, the handset behaves like a typical AP, providing seamless connectivity to any WLAN-enabled client device without user intervention, whereas ad-hoc requires manual configuration of devices on both ends of the link every time a connection is created. With Atheros' AP Mode, client devices function in sleep mode when not actively transmitting or receiving data packets, resulting in superior power efficiency and extended battery life.
"Once again, Atheros is providing innovative functionality to the handset market, this time with the world's first infrastructure-based AP Mode technology for mobile products," said Amir Faintuch, vice president and general manager of Atheros' Mobile Business Unit. "We are pleased that NEC has integrated this cutting-edge technology into its docomo PRIME series N-06A to expand the relationship between the handset and Wi-Fi-enabled devices and unleash an unparalleled mobile experience."
The new NEC N-06A is a dual-mode (HSDPA and WLAN), consumer smartphone with an 8.1 megapixel camera and an 854 x 480 pixel, 3.2-inch touchscreen.
"Atheros AP Mode will be a very compelling feature for the docomo PRIME series NEC N-06A customers, enabling them to create their own next-generation personal area networks, complete with Internet connectivity, via NTT DOCOMO's FOMA network," said Yoshiharu Tamura, vice president, Personal Solution Business Unit, NEC Corporation. The N-06A allows users to connect to a WLAN client device, providing a new class of flexibility and convenience for accessing, as well as sharing, content and the Internet on the go."
"Today's consumers enjoy an unprecedented amount of content via their handsets, used in an expanding number of applications, such as email, video-over-IP and mobile gaming," said Toshio Miki, associate senior vice president and managing director, Communication Device Development Department for NTT DOCOMO, INC. "Atheros AP Mode, featured in the new docomo PRIME series NEC N-06A, is ideally suited to take these usage scenarios to the next level, providing Internet access to an array of Wi-Fi-enabled devices that will further enhance the mobile user experience."

Atheros AP Mode Technology Connects Up to Eight Wi-Fi Devices
Atheros AP Mode is capable of concurrently connecting as many as eight Wi-Fi enabled devices in an open network environment, or up to six devices in a secured network. The clients connect to the mobile handset in AP Mode in the same way they would to a WLAN AP or router. AP Mode is supported through firmware with critical operations implemented in silicon to accelerate performance and avoid bottlenecks in overall network capacity. With all the WLAN processing managed on the Atheros AR6002, the industry-leading Wi-Fi solution for handsets and handheld devices, AP Mode applications can be supported without taxing the mobile device's host processor.

Expanded Platform Flexibility Enables Bandwidth Control
Atheros' flexible mobile platform allows manufacturers to configure handsets with bandwidth ceilings that limit the amount of data that can be sent and received via AP Mode at a given time. This design flexibility allows carriers to support the AP Mode feature for mobile while providing them with bandwidth control over their networks.

AP Mode Intersects Multiple Markets
Atheros AP Mode serves handsets and has also been introduced in innovative products such as wireless travel modems. By simply turning on the Wi-Fi switch, users can enjoy immediate access to a high-speed wireless broadband network. Employing the new AP Mode, these devices can automatically deliver Internet access to a variety of client devices including PCs, game consoles, cameras, MP4 players and other mobile phones.
In addition to enabling AP Mode in mobile markets, Atheros offers direct connect functionality in its solutions for PCs and home consumer electronics devices to provide enhanced connectivity options through Wi-Fi. As such, Atheros' direct connect technology can be used to sync Wi-Fi-enabled devices to support photo and application sharing, multi-player gaming and address book updates.

Atheros AR6002 Supports Advanced Features
The widely-adopted Atheros AR6002 family offers full-speed, hardware-based security with the WPA™, WPA2™ and 802.11i standards, and supports the industry-standardized Wi-Fi Protected Set-Up™ with Atheros JumpStart for Wireless™. In addition, the AR6002 is fully compatible with Cisco's Compatible Extensions (CCX) certification program – to deliver enhanced mobile experiences in enterprise applications. The solution also provides a rich set of features to support voice and video through polled QoS extensions (802.11e and WMM) and provides full driver support for Windows Embedded CE®, Windows Mobile®, and Linux-based solutions.


About Atheros Communications, Inc.
Atheros Communications is a global leader in innovative technologies for wireless and wired communications. Atheros combines its wireless and networking systems expertise with high-performance radio frequency (RF), mixed signal and digital semiconductor design skills to provide highly integrated chipsets that are manufactured on low-cost, standard complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) processes. Atheros technology is used by a broad base of leading customers, including personal computer, networking equipment and consumer device manufacturers. For more information, please visit http://www.atheros.com or send email to info@atheros.com.

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Atheros AR6002 makes NEC's N-06A dual-mode handset a WiFi access point