Diversinet Corp. and its partners are hoping to jump start wireless adoption by building a $50 million wireless community.

The Toronto-based wireless security infrastructure company has assembled a team of mobile operators,

software and hardware vendors, four research labs, Industry Canada and the Communications Research Centre. The group submitted a proposal to the federal government’s Innovation Strategy program.

Steven Hunwicks, manager of product marketing for Diversinet, says the community would serve three functions: application testing, provide a source of user validation in a real world environment, and coordinate the testing agendas of research labs across the country. He says the money will be spent over five years and would go towards program coordination and infrastructure. Proposals are subject to public review this fall, but he is quietly confident it will be approved.

“”This was on the agenda for a discussion recently between Bill Gates of Microsoft and the Prime Minister,”” he says. “”To have this kind of senior government support from various departments and agencies, as well as potential stakeholders is terrific.””

Hunwicks says he hopes the project, Canada 3G Wireless Application Community (C3G), will be up and running within 12 months and not a moment too soon.

“”Canadian developers are at a bit of a disadvantage in the marketplace right now because 3G networks are being deployed elsewhere in the world and North American evolution is a little bit behind,”” Hunwicks says.

“”So to maintain their competitiveness the stakeholders in our group have said they need something within 12 months in order to get going.”” He would not, however, name any of the partners.

The aim of the five-year run is to create a testing ground for 4G networks, Hunwicks says. “”The current focus is to develop applications for existing and future technology that’s in the fairly short term and it evolves into 4G, 2 mbps multimedia broadband,”” he says.

Hunwicks says the big picture goals include increasing adoption of wireless Internet and data, get applications to the market faster, and attract foreign investment by branding Canada as a leading wireless development centre.

Mark Lowenstein, managing director of Mobile Ecosystem in Wellesley, Mass., says he isn’t aware of any similar projects and this one will likely go through many changes over five years. He says participants will have to be patient and the infrastructure develops from dial-up speeds to true 3G technology and beyond.

“”Wireless technology is radio-based technology — it’s still imperfect,”” Lowenstein says. “”It’s not going to be the 4G technology that we all envision. It’s not going to be turned up from the get-go.””

Where the project will set up shop remains a mystery for now. Hunwicks says the user community hasn’t been picked, but it needs to be accessible. He says Barrie and Kitchener, Ont. have been used as guinea pigs in the past by other companies and expects the test community to be on the same scale.

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