Receive new posts as email.
This site operates as an independent editorial operation. Advertising, sponsorships, and other non-editorial materials represent the opinions and messages of their respective origins, and not of the site operator. Part of the FM Tech advertising network.
Entire site and all contents except otherwise noted © Copyright 2001-2010 by Glenn Fleishman. Some images ©2006 Jupiterimages Corporation. All rights reserved. Please contact us for reprint rights. Linking is, of course, free and encouraged.
Linksys ships the WRV54G, which offers up to 50 VPN connections in an office: This $230 device could replace much more expensive equipment for managing VPNs. It handles just the IPsec-over-L2TP method, as far as I can figure out from the extremely detailed user manual. It looks like just the ticket for an office that needs robust security without the complexity of managing a high-end server. This could transform the cost and politics of VPNs.
The Peery Hotel in Salt Lake City offers free Wi-Fi everywhere in the hotel: SuiteSpeed built the network and offers guests that may not have a Wi-Fi card a bridging device that plugs into an Ethernet port. The service doesn't require any special configuration on the laptop. SuiteSpeed offers the hotel reports on the use of the network and can help a hotel with billing, authentication and a portal page.
Glenn has heard that some hotels in the budget category opted for HomePNA, a way of running networks over existing phone lines using unused higher frequencies, and then provide Ethernet-to-HomePNA bridges to guests.
BT said it will wholesale its Wi-Fi network: Vodafone is the first taker, announcing that its customers will be able to use BT's hot spots.
We should start to see all the big hot spot operators around the globe follow suit. I've been waiting for T-Mobile to open up its network and figure it must be planning to do so soon.
National Semiconductor is testing super low power Wi-Fi: The idea is to use it in mobile phones and PDAs. The researchers say they're doing this because Bluetooth can't transmit enough data and isn't easily networkable. Low power Wi-Fi would come at a cost: lower data rates and shorter transmission distances.
Wellington, New Zealand, now has 100 hot spots: The hot spots are run by CityLink, a privately-owned business that was first created by the Wellington City Council in 1995. CityLink is trialing Wi-Fi enabled mobile phones on the network. The city gave the company a bunch of money recently to add more hot spots, so that as many as 400 locations are littered around the city.
We may start seeing these kinds of partnerships between city governments and companies in small towns in the U.S. -- places where the Cometas of the world won't bother setting up hot spots just as wireless broadband firms are filling missing cable and DSL modem gaps. We've already seen some city involvement in Portland, but there, the city is just making it easier for hot spot operators to build networks.
A new Wi-Fi phone from Jeff Pulver lets you make free calls when in range. The phones cost around $250 and only let you make calls to other folks subscribed to Pulver’s voice-over-IP calling plan. But apparently Pulver is in talks with Vonage to make a phone that is compatible with Vonage. [via Gizmodo]
Cafe chain and libraries get Wi-Fi: StarHub of Singapore said it is offering Wi-Fi in 21 cafes owned by the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf chain.
Also in Singapore, SingTel has built hot spots in 23 libraries -- apparently all the public libraries in the country. Users have to pay to use them but as part of the fee they get access to a huge electronic collection—23,000 electronic books, magazines and journals.
For $300 at the get-go plus $50 a month Surf and Sip will set up a hot spot for a cafe and handle ongoing network monitoring and support. The system blocks spam and lists the location on Surf and Sip's Web site.
Because Surf and Sip has deals with iPass, Boingo, Fatport, and others, the free cafes can also list their hot spots among those available to customers of those services.
Surf and Sip's Rick Ehrlinspiel figures that if a cafe can't imagine bringing in at least $100 worth of new business it's not worth it to offer free Wi-Fi. That's because the hot spot will cost the $50 support fee plus the cost of a DSL line.
Surf and Sip is marketing this to cafes or other locations that may want to offer free Wi-Fi but don't want to support it. "We don't want them to have to replace their barista with a tech geek who burns water," Ehrlinspiel said. Users of the free service either have to sign up for free accounts and provide a credit card number (which isn't charged), or use a one-time access card provided by the venue.
Airpath Wireless has a similar offering that costs hot spot locations $25 a month for no setup fee. If more than 50 unique customers use the network in a month, the price goes up.
Airpath seems to say that it has deals with providers like iPass, GRIC, and FatPort so when subscribers of those providers roam onto a free network, the free network provider gets a cut of the revenue from that subscriber. Airpath says the free service providers can list their hot spots on the Web sites of those subscription services. Airpath's offering is hosted but customers can access data about customer usage online.
Airpath's offering is really robust and looks to be a slightly stripped down version of a platform it offers as a hosted service to venues that want to charge for Wi-Fi.
Funny that there seems to be competition for helping out the folks that want to offer free Wi-Fi. But the helpers are making money on the deal and hope that the free sites will want to upgrade to paid sites in the future, when the helpers can make more money by sharing revenue.
Verizon Wireless launched a new data service in Washington, D.C. and San Diego: Starting Oct. 1, customers can pay $79.99 a month for a 300-500 Kbps connection. Customers must use a PC card that costs $179 after a $100 rebate. This meets the 3G (third generation) test for speed.
It will be interesting to see how these services compete with Wi-Fi. Obviously this cellular offering is much more expensive than an unlimited monthly Wi-Fi subscription with several carriers and offers a fraction of the typical 1.5 Mbps back-haul speed. But Verizon would likely argue that it will be available in more places. Plus, prices will likely go down.
We'll also have to see just how fast these services really are. The cellular industry is notorious for overstating data rates. But this particular service has usually been marketed to deliver 2 Mbps, so Verizon may be trying to better manage expectations by touting it as a 300-500 Mbps service.
The free Wi-Fi hot spots may have benefited more than the fee spots during Intel’s free Wi-Fi day: Nigel Ballard reports that the Starbucks in downtown Portland had 40 unique logins while Portland's free Personal Telco hot spot downtown had 176 unique logins. He also says that everyone in Portland's Pioneer Courthouse Square, where Intel put on its event for the day, was an Intel employee. They apparently were bussed in from the Intel factory to make the event look crowded.
Portland's free wireless group wasn't the only one to benefit from Intel's unwired day. In Austin, a couple of free Wi-Fi groups got together to put out a press release noting that every day is a free W-Fi day in quite a lot of locations.
"We sent [the release] as far as San Antonio, but it seems the whole country has picked it up," said Rich MacKinnon of the Austin Wireless City Project and the founder of Less Networks. He has seen the press release listed on some of the large stock market sites under Intel news.
MacKinnon thinks that most people will choose to use free hot spots when they're available. But travelers might use the fee spots mostly because they might have an easier time finding them. In an unfamiliar city a traveler might find it easier to locate the nearest Starbucks than a local independent cafe with Wi-Fi.
But locals in towns like Austin will likely long be attracted to the free sites, not only because they're free but because they're usually operated by independent shops. "We love our independently owned businesses. We resent it any time a Hard Rock Cafe or something like it opens," MacKinnon said. "We'd rather see Wi-Fi pop up in these small places."
ADC and Colubris are coming out with an integrated device that combines a DSL modem with a Wi-Fi access point: The cool part about this is that the device draws power over the DSL connection, so no power source is necessary for the access point.
The device is not for home users but will be marketed to telcos who can use it in places like phone booths where power is an issue.
New client supports secure roaming: PCTEL's Segue roaming software supports 802.1X and WPA and lets users scan for Wi-Fi and cellular data networks. The company hopes the client will make it easier for folks to use Wi-Fi networks because it offers an easy user interface and security. PCTEL is giving away a trial client which you can download on its Web site.
I'm not really sure how this is helpful. It's really not that hard to figure out which Wi-Fi networks are around. Then the question becomes: how can you get on the network. PCTEL's client doesn't help with that.
Maybe the focus is really on finding which cellular networks are nearby in case no Wi-Fi is available. But you have to be a cellular customer to use their network for data so you'd probably already know how to figure out if you're in range of the network.
Finally, it's lovely that it supports 802.1X and WPA, but local networks have to have that wired in as well for it to be useful, and no public networks we're aware of have rolled that out yet. (Glenn suspects 802.1X might replace gateway pages but only when secured EAP along with clients for many OS's are freely or at least widely deployed.)
The IEEE is working on a new WLAN standard that will support 100 Mbps: The idea behind the new standard, 802.11n, is to match the WLAN to the wired LAN in enterprises. It won't be just faster, but also more efficient, increasing throughput, or the net resulting bandwidth after network overhead is removed. (80211.a/g are 54 Mbps raw, but more like under 25 Mbps net.)
The Smart ID WFS-1 Wi-Fi Detector rocks: I finally received my order of this slightly hard-to-get Wi-Fi sensor. It's substantially better in several angles than the Kensington WiFi Finder. First, it's instantaneous: hold down the button, and signals flash. Second, it has more common, easier to change batteries. Third, it's highly directional. Couple the directionality with the instantaneous metering and you can hunt down signals.
Now on the flip side, the documentation says it detects all kinds of 2.4 GHz radiation, so areas with no hot spots but other kinds of activity (microwaves, Bluetooth, cordless phone, and non-Wi-Fi wireless) will trigger its lights, too.
You can buy these units from Directron, a very communicative and responsive online merchant. When I initially ordered a few weeks ago, they were backordered, and they told me about the wait and confirmed my desire to wait. They also emailed me when the units became available and shipped them quickly after that.
Cruising down the Atlanta highway...rest stop!: Pete Lewis writes last Monday about his impending trip aboard the Intel RV, equipped with oodles of wireless goodies for demoing during last Thursday's One Unwired Day (free Wi-Fi in hot spots, sponsored by Intel). Unfortunately, the one unwired apparatus that's missing in the RV: a bathroom. So frequent stops at hot spots with restrooms are a must.
Zagat/Intel's Wi-Fi insert in the New Yorker makes Wi-Fi mundane, says writer: The thesis of this piece is that an Intel-branded Zagat guide inserted into the New Yorker with a handful of locations in each city that are unsuited to Wi-Fi but happen to offer it spells the end of a delightful innocent grass-roots feeling.
The insert wasn't very useful, in my opinion, because it didn't talk about the utility of Wi-Fi in the locations. It was really a set of reviews with a Centrino logo wrapper.
(In full disclosure, I'm working for Jiwire as editor in chief, and we have a hot-spot directory.)
IEEE ultrawideband proposals pushed back: The IEEE 802.15.3a committee, working on a 110 Mbps to 480 Mbps flavor of short-range personal area networks that is almost guaranteed to use ultrawideband (UWB) technology was unable to achieve the supermajority (75 percent) vote at their most recent meeting, pushing the next steps back to their meeting in November.
This is more than academic: on one side Motorola and XtremeSpectrum (among others) stand with a UWB approach similar to the one originally envisioned. On the other side, Intel, Texas Instruments, and others in the Multiband OFDM Alliance have an alternative that might offer some benefits and flexibility, especially for deployment on lower-powered devices.
The FCC's engineering office had the opportunity to offer a definitive statement on a measurement issue that might have decided the proposal one way or another. But, with the wisdom of Solomon, the director opted to avoid a decision until the IEEE had made up its mind, advising them to keep in mind the guidelines already promulgated. This is probably the best course, though frustrating to those who wanted a governmental hand in settling the matter.
The technical merits, political issues, and alliances have made it difficult to understand whether one proposal is clearly better than the other. The final version of 802.15.3a will likely be the better for these steps, as it will have had to adapt to the exigencies of the market and the technology.
The adapter uses USB 2.0: The original USB standard only runs at 12 Mbps so it would be a bottleneck for 802.11g. But the Buffalo adapter relies on USB 2.0, which runs at 480 Mbps.
As part of Intel's free Wi-Fi day yesterday, some shops handed out free food samples: In San Francisco, that meant a bunch of homeless folks got some free treats. As the lunch hour drew nearer, apparently more of Intel’s target market showed up.
The huge wireless operator said instead of building its own Wi-Fi networks, it will use other operators' networks: Vodafone plans to use a system that lets its customers get authorized via SMS to use the hot spots. The customers will get billed for the Wi-Fi use on their Vodafone bills.
Many of Vodafone's competitors are building their own networks. It will be interesting to see down the road if an operator that owns a Wi-Fi network is better off then one that just uses other networks.
TeleSym's second round of fund raising rakes in $12.5 million: The money comes from the Intel Communications Fund, Siemens Venture Capital, Thomas Weisel Venture Partners, Bay Partners and Northwest Venture Associates. Looks like these guys have high hopes for voice over Wi-Fi.
Reuters reports that Wi-Fi is stealing the show at Computex in Taiwan: Manufacturers at the trade show focused on linking Wi-Fi-enabled computers to stereos, TVs and DVD players. Gateway came out with a DVD player that can stream music, photos and videos from a PC to a home entertainment center.
For now, however, there aren't standards that let these devices communicate with each other. So a TV couldn't communicate with another device like a stereo. But apparently a bunch of chip and computer makers and consumer electronics companies are working together to form such standards.
This trial Wi-Fi application in a German grocery store would make me nuts : When regular shoppers walk in the store they pick up a Tablet PC, swipe their affinity card across a bar code reader on the PC and hang it off their cart. When they swipe their card, the PC receives info via Wi-Fi on what the person has bought historically. Then as they walk into an aisle the PC gets info about things the shoppers have bought before in that aisle so the PC can "remind" shoppers of things they might be forgetting to buy. And it displays advertising about items in the aisle.
The one cool thing about the application is that shoppers scan products on the PC as they put them in their cart. It's not totally clear how this works but it sounds like the PC sends the total cost of the goods via Wi-Fi to a special check out line so that when the shopper checks out their tally is already there and all they have to do is swipe their card to pay.
Telerama says it has 60 hotspots and 600 users: But it's not clear if those 600 users are monthly subscribers or if some of those have signed up for one time use. Of those customers, only four use PDAs to connect.
I think that an increase in PDA users would spur a major uptake of Wi-Fi in the mass market. Wi-Fi customers today are business users who have laptops. But if more people--not just business people--carried around lower cost PDAs, they might start using Wi-Fi for entertainment applications, like downloading music.
T-Mobile also has hot spots in Pittsburgh, some of them right next door to Telerama sites. Telerama is participating in Intel's free Wi-Fi day even though Intel isn't officially including Telerama in the day. Telerama hired college students to hang out in its hotspots and talk up the service for the day.
The Raleigh News and Observer reports on the impending growth of the number of Wi-Fi hotspots: But the story notes that Wi-Fi can offer technical headaches for café owners who may not have the expertise to deal with problems.
Infonet, which offers remote connectivity for large enterprises, said it will offer access to Wi-Fi networks: Early next year it will introduce a new service called MobileXpress and one of the components of the service will allow customers to use Wi-Fi networks. The announcement doesn’t mention any partnerships with hot spot operators.
Coffee shops will feature Pocket PCs in kiosks: Tully’s signed up to get Wi-Fi via Cometa’s network and now says it has partnered with Microsoft to put Pocket PCs in Seattle Tully’s shops. The idea is to let folks use the Pocket PCs to get a sense of what they can do with Wi-Fi.
Along with Intel's unwired day tomorrow comes a bit of marketing spam from all the companies involved. Here and there are some interesting bits of information though.
T-Mobile offered up a couple of somewhat useful tidbits. For example, users are spending on average 45 minutes per session. Which means that coffee shops may not have to worry about folks camping for hours once they get Wi-Fi.
T-Mobile also says that the number of unique users has increased by 400 percent since January. That's not the most useful figure without knowing how many users that amounts to but still indicates some growth.
The operator also came up with a slew of tallies for how many hotspots it has up and running. By the end of 2003, it hopes to have 4,000 in place.
Atheros is partnering with AMD: This looks to be an attempt by these companies to make themselves attractive to laptop makers by offering them a platform that includes the Atheros 802.11a/b/g chipset combined with AMD's 64-bit processor. Glenn notes that there's nothing said here about any sort of integration between the two companies' products. So basically these guys are trying to tell laptop manufacturers that an AMD processor and Atheros 802.11 chipset will make a better product then anything based on Intel's Centrino platform.
Gartner says the total cost of ownership for enterprises of Wi-Fi-enabled laptops can be as high as $325 a year: That figure can include subscriptions to multiple service providers but also includes costs associated with technical support. The study does note, however, that some users incur lower costs of ownership because they work at home so are more productive.
The Merc has a real general story about Wi-Fi that looks briefly at the free vs. fee topic: The author concludes that free will be the norm in the future, but he somehow draws that conclusion by making the point that today most users have their service paid for them by their companies. I don't think that's an argument for why Wi-Fi will ultimately be free. It could turn out to be like cellular where some users have their service paid for by companies but others are willing to dig into their own pockets.
One analyst makes a good point in the piece though. He says that until more of the operators sign roaming agreements with each other instead of promoting their exclusive networks the market will remain chaotic. It seems like the market is moving in that direction and roaming should open up the market.
Well, part of downtown Pittsburgh is going wireless: Telerama, an ISP, made a deal with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust to cover 14 blocks downtown with Wi-Fi. Users will be able to access info about theaters and other cultural spaces in the area for free and full Internet access will cost $5 a day or $30 a month.
While clearly business people can use the network, Telerama specifically targets neighborhoods and campuses for the more "casual" user. It already offers service in coffee shops, bars, restaurants, theaters and health clubs in Pittsburgh. I think they'll really have to spell out why people other than business users will want to use the networks because I don't think Joe laptop user walking down the street will understand why he would want to get online in the health club.
Unlike some of the big hot spot operatorsm, Telerama actually pays hot spot locations to become hot spots. I wonder if that means Telerama has a different revenue sharing model than some of the other folks.
Corrider Systems demonstrates 256 Mbps over medium-voltage powerlines: The ultimate vision is to use powerlines to carry data near end users, then deliver the data over the final mile with Wi-Fi. This system was deployed as a test by Pacific Gas and Electric over a section of its grid. Product availability will be second quarter next year—is it too soon to dream about the potential for real broadband connectivity competition??
Australian city builds Wi-Fi throughout town: An increasing number of cities around the globe seem to be deploying Wi-Fi networks in town for public use. This Australian city has deployed 40 access points, using lamp posts and traffic lights in some cases. The city hopes to offer services specifically for certain events, like its arts festival, though it doesn't name what types of services.
NetNearU has partnered with Intera to Wi-Fi enable pay phones: Intera owns or manages nearly 40,000 pay phones around the country and has relationships with folks that own another 200,000 pay phones. It has offered to help those owners set up Wi-Fi hotspots at their phone locations, supplying the gear and helping set up DSL connections to the phones. The pay phone owners will have to contact Intera to say they're interested so it's hard to know when these conversions might happen.
This is a really pedestrian story about a small town's debate over cellular towers: But the ending is a hoot. A gentleman known in the region as "maddog" suggests using the tower to create a Wi-Fi hotspot downtown. Maddog, aka John Hall, is apparently "an internationally known advocate of the Linux operating system and perhaps the region's most famous computer worker." It's nice to know that Wi-Fi is popping up in the small towns, even if only by people the rest of the town may consider the fringe.
TechDirt reports on Dartmouth's decision to offer students free phone calls using VoIP over Wi-Fi: The students will be offered free software so that they can make phone calls on their laptops anywhere there is Wi-Fi. This follows earlier word that Dartmouth had decided to offer free calling to students because it would be cheaper than supporting the billing infrastructure.
Massport says service to start by end of year: Boston-Logan airport will have Terminal E equipped with Wi-Fi by year's end, and B, C, and D by next summer. (Terminal A is being rebuilt; it re-opens in 2005.) The daily cost should be $6 to $7, but thankfully they're already talking about working with aggregation.
The two companies building the network are Electronic Media Systems, Inc., and TWI Interactive. I believe EMS was already unwiring Terminal E under a separate arrangement. I spoke to many hot spot infrastructure builders after the request for proposal was issued earlier this year by Boston-Logan, and they thought the cost structure was untenable, despite the 22 million passengers who pass through the airport each year.
The main issue was that the RFP required the contractor to build out the entire infrastructure: power, Ethernet, equipment, etc., not just a Wi-Fi network. Some firms estimated that 2/3rds of the cost of the RFP would be just putting an Ethernet ring in. [via TechDirt]
A small southern town built its own broadband wireless network: The city of Adel, Georgia, decided to construct its own wireless network to offer broadband service to businesses and residents because the only other high-speed option was some spotty DSL.
This is a somewhat unusual deployment because the city will be the service provider. In other city-run deployments, like a handful in Washington State, the municipalities serve as wholesalers. They build the network but lease it to service providers who market services.
I wonder if these types of deployments catch the eye of the existing broadband operators. Clearly the cities are taking action because the big operators aren’t offering them service. But are the operators losing out by missing these opportunities? Or are cities like Adel really so small that it doesn’t make sense for the big operators to serve them?
Network World tested switches from Airespace, Aruba, Symbol, and Trapeze: This article says that the magazine hoped to test more but these were the only companies that coughed up demo units.
The testers said Airespace and Aruba tied for the best product. With so many new WLAN switches on the market, I don't envy IT folks trying to decide which to deploy.
iPass, a service aggregator, will serve as a clearinghouse. iPass said today that Sprint PCS is its first customer for a new service that will settle billing among carriers and offer them access to the more than 2,500 Wi-Fi hotspots for which iPass now resells service.
"Sprint approached us and said, it'd be great if we could access those [2,500] hot spots without having to make individual relationships with each owner," said Jon Russo, vice president of marketing for iPass.
iPass will collect information about how much time each Sprint PCS customer spends connected to a hotspot operated by IPass partners, such as Cometa and Wayport, and handle accounting so that the operators can clear charges among each other. Sprint PCS customers will see these charges on their cellular bill. (Sprint PCS recently launched its hot spot service, and at the time and more recently said they would integrate cellular billing later in the year. Sprint hasn't set a fixed fee for unlimited use.)
Fee settlement has been an issue for major hot spot operators and the companies they are reselling to because until iPass's program each party had to negotiate separate agreements and establish account conduits among their various authentication and billing systems. In all cases, the goal is present a single bill to the customer, or add on service to an existing bill.
The iPass system allows any carrier to access the 2,500 locations they've aggregated at certain wholesale rates, or to establish direct roaming agreements with settlement across any WISP that has signed up with iPass for that particular service. Many WISPs will be part of iPass's virtual network and available for direct resale. iPass won't cut checks; they'll just handle the numbers.
WISPs that participate in iPass's virtual network or direct roaming have to offer a standard authentication method according to iPass's specification. This makes it much, much easier for a software client, such as iPassConnect, to handle multiple networks without customization. iPass will offer to customize their software for carriers -- and, in fact, the Sprint PCS Wi-Fi application has iPass under the hood, as Glenn discovered when he attempted to uninstall it and install iPassConnect 3.
iPass hopes services like this one will encourage roaming programs. "This initiative will help open up roaming. It makes it appealing for those who chose to go the closed route. They might think twice about it now because it'll be easier and quicker," Russo said. [by Nancy Gohring with Glenn Fleishman]
Rather uninformed Newsweek story ignores current trends in predicting poor results for hot spots: I'd accept analysis that says that hot spots won't work out as planned, but not in an article that doesn't mention most of the largest networks, or explain the current push by cellular and wireline phone operators. It even recycles the bizarre Forrester prediction from Europe that a large percentage of people with Wi-Fi in their laptops and PDAs won't use Wi-Fi.
As I've said earlier this year, there is still a debate over whether the current generation of operators will all pull profits from hot spots. But the debate is long over as to whether the hot spot networks will be built out: the telcos have committed the resources, as has Cometa, and we will have 20,000 to 30,000 locations in the U.S. within the year. The budgets are written. The money does not have to be raised.
A more important question is: what happens when you have, say, 20 or 30 million Wi-Fi equipped people and 20,000 to 30,000 hot spots. Does the model shake out so furiously that no one can make money? Or does everyone subscribe at about $20 on their cell phone bill and the costs are covered? [via TechDirt]
FCC Chairman Michael Powell isn't one of those do-as-I-say, not-as-I-do sorts: In this brief Q&A in the New York Times, Powell reveals that he and his family are mass-media and computer consumers--to the extreme. He's the recipient of his own decisions, and you can see how he discusses Tivo's strengths as a way to subvert the consolidation of ownership of media.
He uses Wi-Fi, by the way. And I hope someone on his staff has set up him up with real in-home wireless security.
Apple's Bluetooth skips Wi-Fi interference: Apple slipped in a few features that will appear in the upcoming Bluetooth 1.2 specific in their new Bluetooth firmware and their new keyboard and mouse: adaptive frequency hopping. This feature, which will be available to older Apple Bluetooth equipment via firmware upgrades, takes advantage of an FCC ruling several months ago which provides flexibility for frequency hopping devices using 1 MHz per channel; formerly, devices had to hop among at least 75 channels, but they can now hop among just 15.
The adaptive hopping combined with Apple's driver-level interaction between its Bluetooth and Wi-Fi subsystems allows their two 2.4 GHz wireless devices to co-exist without Bluetooth colliding with Wi-Fi. Broadcom provided the peripheral chips while CSR put the Bluetooth in the latest laptops. (Apple includes or offers Bluetooth for most of its machines now.)
Apple's hardware product marketing director, Greg Jozwiak, told me that all previous Apple Bluetooth hardware, including all but the very first version of the D-Link USB Bluetooth adapter, would support adaptive hopping via firmware upgrades. Apple shoots and scores again on getting its wireless act together before their competitors have coordinated coming to market.
Roamers can get a temporary ID via SMS: When visitors step into a SingTel hot spot, they can dial *186 on their cell phone and get a code with a user ID and password that gets them on the Wi-Fi network. They'll be charged for using the network on their cell phone bill.
In Europe, Excilan is offering a similar service. Users there input their phone number onto a gateway page which triggers the system to call their phone. Then the user approves the charge for Wi-Fi use on their cell phone bill.
These are great ideas that eliminate some of today's roaming/billing issues. It seems like we're pretty far behind Europe and Asia though and these arrangements probably take a bit of cooperation between cell phone and hotspot operators. Here, it seems that the two are just learning that if they work together they can all get a piece of a bigger pie. Plus, we don't use SMS quite as much as folks around the globe.
Gizmodo reports on the new handhelds: Both are expected to have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth built in. They may look a bit different than other HP Pocket PCs as they will feature small keyboards.
Linksys has a very cool media adapter: It wirelessly delivers photos and music stored on your computer to your TV or stereo. I want one! I'm tired of burning CDs and listening to digital music on my computer.
TeleSym contributes software to Intel demonstration: The device uses TeleSym’s softphone to do VOIP on Wi-Fi and can roam onto a GSM network without dropping the call. Intel Communications Fund has invested in TeleSym.
A lot of people are talking about this capability but the business case for a service that roams from cellular to Wi-Fi will be tough to work out. For example, pricing may be difficult. Using the Wi-Fi network should be cheaper then the cell phone network so it seems like operators should let users know when they are transferring from one network to the next but it’s not clear how they’d do that. Also, the cell phone operators would have to negotiate a good deal with Wi-Fi operators, otherwise why would they want to hand customers off of their network?
Turn a floppy disk into an 802.11b antenna: Slashdot nailed this French page (also available in English) prepared by regular emailer Thomas Gee, who has pointed out important French language and French-as-in-France Wi-Fi developments in the past. [via Slashdot]
Airblock changes WEP keys on select hardware: Instead of installing 802.1X systems, I suppose it could be much cheaper to put client software on all connected devices that rotates keys. The Code Red Systems folks have a beta available for certain models (see Tim Higgins's story); commercial release is next year.
Xbox Wireless Adapter adds 802.11g for $139 list: The news was accidentally leaked via an FCC filing days ago, but Microsoft now makes it formal. The release date is Oct. 5 for the product. The release foolishly says, gamers on Xbox Live can experience speeds of up to 54 Mbps. Most other Wi-Fi makers are careful to say the network operates at speeds that high, but actual throughput is substantially lower.
EE Times has a good description of how AirFlow's WLAN switch platform works: AirFlow's solution attempts to avoid interference issues by stripping the MAC layer from the APs (access points) and centralizing a single MAC at a centralized controller. That means all the APs can be tuned to the same channel and clients communicate just with the MAC at the switch. AirFlow describes the setup as one AP--the centralized controller--with multiple antennas.
It's a sound concept, especially for enterprises that might want to enable voice over the WLAN. Because clients associate with the MAC at the controller, they don't have to re-associate each time they move from one AP to the next. That eliminates some of the problems with current generation WLANs which can't quite hand off from one AP to the next fast enough to support voice.
The downside is that the offering sounds super proprietary, so it could potentially be tough for AirFlow to comply with AP standardization efforts underway in the WLAN switch market.
Here's another piece on Portland's ambitions to be the most unwired city: The author writes that Portland earned the distinction of being the city with the most hotspots "by chance," because the hotspots were built by the community driven Personal Telco Project.
I’d give the Personal Telco folks more credit. The fact that they drove the efforts that made the city the most unwired, versus some big corporation, is pretty cool. Regardless, it’s great that the city government of Portland is fostering Wi-Fi development there as a means for attracting businesses. [via Nigel Ballard]
This is a pretty basic story about how convenient Wi-Fi is for folks on the road: But it's nice to see in the paper for the masses.
The story features one road warrior who spends on average $200 on Wi-Fi connection fees. That's indicative of the need for operators to band together to offer a single subscription for users because I doubt there's that many people who are willing to pay that much for access.
The company makes some announcements at its developers' forum: This is a pretty confusing article but seems to say that Intel plans to release its Sonoma mobile platform in the second half of next year. Sonoma will include 802.11a/b/g, a new Pentium M processor and a new chipset.
It's not that Intel doesn't want to send out a clear message, but it looks as though they are simultaneously fighting a rearguard action against upstarts like Broadcom who have seized some of the laptop mindshare among manufacturers, while still promoting their vision of an integrated wireless future.
Telstra (Australia) says it won't expand its hotspot network: Telstra had rolled out some test locations in July, but it won't go full bore, even though they're apparently only offering GPRS for cell data (40 to 70 Kbps).
Breaking News: T-Mobile and Kinko's make their rollout announcement tomorrow: T-Mobile said it would build hotspots in Kinko's shops ages ago. But tomorrow the two companies are pulling off a big shebang in Dallas to announce that 170 stores will be live at the end of October, and a total of 1,100 by April 2004. The first batch of hotspots will be in Northern Texas, Northern and Central California (including San Francisco), New Jersey, and New York.
T-Mobile figures that 80 percent of its existing hot spot customers are business users and those users may already be going to Kinko's to print presentations. Now they can hang out in the cubes at Kinko's and get some work done in a quiet environment, said Pete Thompson, director of marketing for T-Mobile hot spots.
Eventually, Kinko's hopes to make printers accessible to the Wi-Fi users so that customers can wirelessly send a document to the printer, said a T-Mobile spokesperson. For now, customers have to email the document to a Kinko's computer that is connected to a printer. Because Kinko's locations typically already have a network connected via DSL or cable modem or other high-speed service, this implies that their printers are on a separate network from T-Mobile's wireless service.
At some point subscribers to other hot spot networks will be able to use the service at Kinkos. T-Mobile has been much criticized for operating a closed network. But Thompson says T-Mobile plans to open its network, once it feels other high-quality networks are available for its customers to roam onto.
"It will be more of a bilateral roaming agreement rather then just letting others come onto our network," he said. T-Mobile will be looking for good security and quality of service on other networks before allowing its customers to roam onto them. Thompson was mum on which other service providers it might make roaming deals with and when.
Techdirt has a nice analysis of a News.com interview with Sky Dayton: The contributor examines Dayton’s math for figuring out how a cafe can make money on Wi-Fi. Dayton estimates that the cafe needs about six users a day to make it pay off. Last week at a wireless conference in Seattle, David Hagan, Boingo's president, said two to three users a day would make a break even business.
All this talk from Boingo about how to make the business work makes me think they're getting nervous about how to make Wi-Fi pay. Hagan actually tried to quiet the discussion a bit. "It's too early to expect every piece of the value chain to make money," he said. That point may be valid if you've got deep pockets, but that's hardly acceptable to the small guys who can't afford to loose money for a year.
Toshiba to build hotspots in UK soccer stadiums: It will start with two fields but will expand to the rest if the deployment is a success. Toshiba says it's targeting photographers, journalists, and business execs, who might use PDAs to check scores or do email. There's no mention of hooligans using the network to figure out where to hang out after the game.
You can sign up to be an early adopter: Firetide is introducing a cool new product that it calls a wireless mesh router. It aims to eliminate the wired backhaul from traditional APs. So a company could distribute a slew of Firetide routers which self-configure to pass data from one to the next, back to an AP that is connected.
Firetide is also opening the door to companies that want to be part of its early adopters program. HP Labs is already using Firetide gear.
In a briefing Firetide gave to Glenn a few weeks ago, the company discussed some specific scenarios, such as unwiring hotels, in which so many of the costs were in the wireline side that their products could drop a project's cost by more than half.
TI joins the crowd: Broadcom, Atheros, and Philips have also recently announced tiny Wi-Fi chips designed to work in cell phones. TI's chips, however, will be 802.11a/b/g. Motorola said it'd use the chips in its combined Wi-Fi/cell phone due out next year.
It remains to be seen how these phones will work. Battery life is expected to stink and first generation phones may be bricks.
FCC pushes ultrawideband issues back to the IEEE, defers issuing clarification: I wrote about this for InfoWorld a few weeks ago, covering how the 802.15.3a committee had a great set of proposals in front of them, and that the multiband OFDM approach might succeed if the FCC agreed that the alliance behind it could measure conformance to the rules in a certain fashion. The multiband proposal is the leading candidate. The FCC didn't clarify measurements issues in their statement, requesting that the IEEE decide on a standard on its merits and then they can work with that final standard.
Did the Multiband OFDM Alliance come out on top after this statement? Or does it lend support to XtremeSpectrum and Motorola, the folks pushing the more classical (as it were) UWB proposal? Only the next IEEE 802.15 meeting will tell. It's possible that it throws plans into disarray and that the multiband proposal doesn't achieve supermajority passage -- then rejected proposals are back on the agenda, pushing ratification back several months.
Speakeasy is always raising the bar on Internet services: Its newest set of services includes a $49 deal that gets you all the Wi-Fi gear and support you need to get set up at home. For a short time a while back Speakeasy was giving away the gear for new customers, but that was a shortlived promotion.
Speakeasy is also offering what it calls personal technology assistant which means you can talk to the same help desk person when you have a problem, instead of explaining your situation over and over to a new person each time you call.
The ISP also decided to automatically double upload speeds for most customers. Speakeasy tends to cater to serious bandwidth users like gamers for whom upload speeds are as important as download.
Speakeasy Networks remains one of the only ISPs, and certainly the only well-known national ISP, that allows unlimited bandwidth at no additional charge coupled with unlimited sharing of network connections with neighbors and customers.
Portland will beef up Wi-Fi even more: Already known for being one of the most Wi-Fi friendly cities around, Portland's city government is really working to cement that distinction. The Portland Telecommunications Steering Committee is trying to make it as easy as possible for companies to deploy Wi-Fi in the city. It plans to offer the rooftops of city buildings to Wi-Fi operators that want to place their antennas there. In exchange, the operators must offer some tier of service to citizens for free.
While Seattle city leaders aren't nearly cool enough to come up with a plan like this, it looks like there may be a bit of competition among these two Pacific Northwest towns. An Intel survey found Portland to be the most unwired city in March but recently when Cometa announced a deal in Seattle it clamed that Seattle would have the most hotspots. Let the games begin… [via Nigel Ballard]
Network World has a nice Q & A with Netgear's chairman and CEO, on the heels of the August IPO: The story is a bit all over the place but has a couple of useful tidbits. Netgear's chairman and CEO says the company has an advantage over Linksys because Netgear is independent—it can move faster and won't suck resources from a parent company.
But it may not be moving fast enough, seeing as Netgear plans to introduce a WLAN switch early next year, a bit behind the pack. The CEO also says that 60 percent to 70 percent of Netgear's product line will have wireless built-in within 18 months.
Nomadix backs up Hughes:Hughes Network Systems is building Wi-Fi networks in "leisure HotSpots," which means RV parks and marinas, using satellite links for backhaul. The network uses Nomadix on the backend so that users don't have to re-subscribe each time they roll into a new location. This should be a cool service for folks on the road and they may find that the probably slow service is better than nothing.
Reports from RVers indicate that bandwidth is generally scarce at parks, and the folks travelling -- no matter their age -- are actually heavy email and cell phone users. Providing enough bandwidth at these location is an actual problem needing a solution, not just a marketing machine message.
U.K. phone booths to get Wi-Fi: Like Verizon in New York City, BT is unwiring some of its phone booths in big cities so folks in nearby cafes or restaurants can use Wi-Fi. It's shooting to have 4,000 up and running by next summer.
Ian Fogg, an analyst at Jupiter Research, makes a good point in the story. He wonders if the service may compete with Wi-Fi access that cafes and restaurants may be offering. It'll be interesting to watch how competition works in Wi-Fi when multiple operators offer service in the same areas.
It's called "Wireless-G": SmallNetBuilder reports that Microsoft has officially launched its 802.11g gear, acknowledging that Broadcom is its partner. Chipsets from Atheros, however, are behind the Xbox wireless adapter.
Sprint PCS opens network to Wayport locations, one of its own spots: In a press release startling for its clarity and frankness about who owns what and what's ready now, Sprint PCS announced that its ready to offer service reselling access to Wayport locations (roughly 550 nationwide) and one of its own. It will resell Cometa access later this year, and they're still stating 2,100 hot spots as their goal between their own and resold locations.
Because Sprint PCS has a built-in audience and they have the software ready to go, this should be the first real test -- since T-Mobile doesn't yet have their client -- of how a cellular company can convince customers through CD-ROM mailings, I expect, to install special software and tack on charges on their bill. The real test will be when they set a monthly rate for subscribers. Will it be like AT&T Wireless's improbably high "unlimited" $70 per month (which is limited to 150 sessions)? Or T-Mobile's $20 per month for true unlimited access with no roaming -- yet?
Time Warner Cable alleges company rebroadcast cable modem service to apartment dwellers: An Internet firm and apartment complex have been sued by Time Warner Cable for using Wi-Fi access points to bring access to its Road Runner cable modem service to residents. Even worse, the cable company claims that the service was running on free subscriptions given to building superintendents.
This might wind up testing whether Internet sharing is actually something that a contract with an operator can restrict as a matter of law. But if the allegations prove true, this seems clearly a problem since the provide is allegedly reselling service. Sharing might wind up being okay, but not selling.
Wixos builds out bus route Wi-Fi: Apparently a company called Wixos built a Wi-Fi network along some major bus routes in Paris. It was to be free until January 1, 2004, but the company decided instead to contract with Wi-Fi operators to start selling subscription services to users this month.
The more interesting application for the network is in how the bus system will use it. The buses are equipped with cameras that automatically take pictures of cars that are illegally driving in the bus lane. The photograph will be sent automatically via Wi-Fi to bus headquarters, where the system automatically produces a statement of the violation. The bus system has gone so far as to use watermarking on the images so they can prove to police that they didn’t alter the photos. Talk about Big Brother.
The Wall Street Journal looks at Intel's place in the Wi-Fi market: This piece takes a fair look at how far behind Intel is in everything it's doing in the wireless world. That's evident today with announcements from Atheros and Broadcom about new 802.11g chipsets that offer better range and battery life then Intel’s Centrino products. Intel doesn’t have any 802.11g out yet and reports last week indicated that they wouldn't be available until 2004.
The article also says Intel has been working on software-defined radio technology. Companies across the communications industry have been talking about SDR for years.
It will be interesting to watch Intel's conference this week as it may produce some notable thoughts on where the giant will move in the future. Even if Intel is behind the startups, its heavy advertising and interest in Wi-Fi certainly offers a boost to the industry.
If you can make it to San Diego next week, the 2003 International Wireless Symposium starts Sept. 22: They’ve got a bunch of wireless industry folks lined up to speak and are touting a panel on ultrawideband. There will also be a venture capital panel on Tuesday, for anyone trying to get their hands on some cash.
U.S. Robotics is selling its 802.11g gear in some Walmarts: It's a sign that Wi-Fi is truly going mainstream when you see press releases of this sort.
Atheros has new 802.11a/g chipsets that extend range and reduce power consumption of WLAN devices: The new chips will also let users remotely raise an alert on the device if it's stolen, even if the device is powered off.
Atheros says the new chips improve power consumption by 60 percent over 802.11b products. Some of that benefit happens because the chips use about 95 percent less power in idle mode than Centrino’s 802.11b products.
The chips also employ a new kind of signal processing architecture that Atheros says can double the range of Wi-Fi. The chips will allow a single access point to cover multi-story brick homes. Wireless Internet service providers can extend coverage to a kilometer range.
Broadcom started shipping new 802.11g and 802.11a/g chips that it says consume less battery life on notebooks then Centrino chips: A notebook can last 20 minutes longer with its modules, says Broadcom. The product will help Broadcom cement its relationship with laptop makers who are using its gear as a built-to-order option (Dell) or as a default (Emachines) instead of the Centrino module.
Silicon Valley workers can now work longer hours: Or maybe fewer, depending on their bosses. Altamont Commuter Express trains are offering Wi-Fi access on the Stockton-to-San Jose run. Because commuters can get some work done en route, some say their bosses are letting them leave work early and count their commute as part of their regular working day because they can do email on the train.
This story reports that users so far say the connection is pretty slow. That’s because it uses satellite for the downlink and cellular links up. A Canadian company, PointShot Wireless, built the service.
A comprehensive look at the state of VoWLAN: Wi-Fi Networking News associate editor Nancy Gohring filed this long story for InfoWorld about voice over wireless LAN (VoWLAN) presented a comprehensive picture of its state in the field and near-term future.
She also filed this sidebar about the problems one company had after upgrading its Cisco gear and trying to use Symbol VoWLAN equipment. Those problems are still outstanding.
FCC Chairman Michael Powell visits the boonies to see wireless broadband in action: "See" is probably the wrong word, but the dressed-down Mr. Powell is shown taking a look at the setup and an actual customer's location to help show the FCC's interest in rural broadband. [via Dewayne Hendricks]
Entrepreneur equips luxury shuttles from Boston to New York with satellite radio and bandwidth: This is more a story about whether someone can succeed where others will fail, offering an inexpensive business/first-class trip between two commercial cities, Boston and New York. It sounds very much like Amtrak's business service on their high-speed trains out west here, and maybe like Acela.
The difference is that the Acela train service in the northeast is subject to lots of problems: breakdowns, delays, freight train priority, etc. Shuttle flights, much more expensive, require 2 hour advance arrival at the airport, which is already a reasonable trip away from anywhere in Boston or New York and then getting from the airport to your destination. So train is 3+ hours, if it gets there on time, and plane is at least 4 hours end to end.
This luxury bus service boasts Wi-Fi and Ethernet throughout the bus, which means that not only are you ensconced in a great seat, but you can have constant connectivity without the pressurization issues and airflow that make it hard for me (and many) to work on planes. The 2-1 (two seats on one side and one on another) configuration means you have more elbow room, too.
Even more brilliant is the 10-seat conference center in the back of the bus. I can see how a moving business meeting with bandwidth could substantially improve the efficiency of certain kinds of businesses.
The analysts and experts who say that this service will probably fail like the others isn't noting that the others didn't offer bandwidth. No mention of whether there will be electrical outlets at each seat, which would be an additional plus, but not critical on a journey of this length. [via Jim Sullivan]
Nancy Gohring joins Wi-Fi Networking News staff as Associate Editor: In what I hope is the first step in a continuing trend, I have hired reporter Nancy Gohring as the associate editor of Wi-Fi Networking News. The advertising revenue from the site has grown enough, as has my workload across many projects, to warrant another editor coming on board to expand what the site can bring you in daily industry and consumer reporting. Nancy will be spending several hours each week reporting for the site.
Nancy is a veteran reporter in the wireless industry, and currently writes as a freelancer for several mainstream and trade publications, including The Seattle Times, The New York Times, and InfoWorld magazine. You can read her full biography here.
I met Nancy last year during her four-month contract stint at The Seattle Times, and she and I have spent much time in the last year confabbing about the industry and giving each other advice on stories in progress. Nancy's take on the Wi-Fi and cellular industry isn't the same as mine, but I respect her views as much as my own.
We're not making news here today by having a blog hire a staffer, even on a part-time basis. Various sites have bloggers who are paid in some fashion or another. But I think as a single site owner generating enough cash flow to afford this, I might be unique. The closest example I know of is Pete Rojas, editor of Gizmodo, a site I refer to all the time, but he's part of a larger set of content sites and explorations run by Nick Denton.
I don't have to be first or unique, of course: I just like the idea that we can afford to offer more of the sort of coverage that has made the site popular in terms of traffic and Google ranking in the first place.
Look for Nancy's first posts starting Monday. We'll be identified in the last line of each post by name so you'll know who wrote what.
McDonald's is starting a pilot hot spot program in Guangzhou: If successful, it may roll Wi-Fi out to all 560 restaurants nationwide.
UPS experiment with public space Wi-Fi in 66 Chicagoland UPS Stores: UPS purchased Mailboxes Etc. in 2001 and rebranded some of them The UPS Store at the franchisees' option (see comment below which reflects an earlier state of this post). They are using Toshiba's turnkey hot spot system with the SurfHere network also operated by Toshiba handling the front end. The stores already have DSL or cable service, and won't initially require higher-end data connections. The company is segregating traffic, obviously with VLANs, to keep public and private data separate.
UPS plans to offer some free access in exchange for service upgrades. The cost of installing and running the network is almost certainly minimal with most of the costs upfront. SurfHere charges $4.95 an hour or $39.95 per month. I'm not aware of whether they roam or resell to other networks yet, but that will be a guarantee.
There are 3,000 UPS Stores or Mailboxes Etc. in the US and 1,000 outside the country. In the article, UPS is openly discussing a full-scale rollout based on the trial. It's a logical mix, given the nature of the stores: the perfect crossover of a business venue (like Kinko's) with customers who are likely to need this specific kind of access.
UK ecommerce minister pushes vision of Wi-Fi in every library: Oddly, no specifics in this article about why people need Internet access or what would be provided for them except a connection. I know that the Internet is a generally useful thing, and that people with more information typically have more opportunities. But seeing some concrete ideas about how Wi-Fi in libraries helps (there are plenty of these ideas) would sell the notion more.
There's just a lot of muddy words. But what was emphasised by Mr Timms was that broadband's future was "all about content" and outlined some potential areas of content creativity. All about what content? These included initiatives to encourage the collaboration of creative industries to produce compelling content for people on a high speed connection.
Oh, I see, creative industries. Yes, let's build creative industries, shall we? Mother, may I build some creative industries? Yes, dear, take your fingerpaints and go play.
Wireless Lab Park Days come to Manhattan: NYCwireless and the Downtown Alliance will sponsor interesting art projects from noon to 4 p.m. on Sept. 19 and 20. This includes a scavenger hunt called NodeRunner.
Intel says 802.11a/b module won't appear til 4th quarter: Their b/g (really g) component will come out at year's end and a/b/g (a/g) in first quarter of 2004. This delay opens open a huge market space for Broadcom, notably, which has forged relationships with several laptop makers. Corporations making purchasing decisions want to stick with one model and one configuration for a multi-year period. If they opt for Broadcom's g or a/g modules in, say, a Dell, that could lock that company down for Broadcom for years to come.
Alleged network cracker peeved at lack of security, just proving a point: A North Carolina man has been charged with various computer crimes for allegedly retrieving information from a medical office's computer systems on insurance payments and procedures. The head of the medical group says patient information wasn't compromised, although that's hard to justify if the fellow did actually retrieve the information this report says he did.
Even more interesting, the article fails to distinguish between network sniffing and computer cracking. This fellow is alleged to have used a wireless network to gain access to the computers. Which means the machines themselves were unprotected or unpatched and the network was unprotected or lacked the right kinds of protections.
The office's head said, "We made the correction and our network, I can say with confidence, is to the highest industry standard right now." That's just like bragging that you're the fastest gun in the west. [via John Beimler who, Smoking Gun style, also provided me this link to a job posting by the charged individual, and this link to his business's Web site.]
Alan Reiter writes about Brazilian Wi-Fi heating up: Alan spent some time in Brazil, and learned how ready the market was to pop. It's starting to sizzle: a leading ISP plans 300 locations. American aggregators Boingo Wireless, GRIC, and iPass are already branding the scene. The cost is under $20 per month for month-to-month or yearly commitment.
An interesting point is that the first 40-odd locations include 20 airports, which is almost as many airports as have any reasonable access in the U.S., excluding lounges.
T-Mobile soft launched in The Czech Republic: They've launched "for testing purposes" in eight locations with 14 more to come.
Interview with Gary Weis, CEO of Cometa: I spoke yesterday with the CEO of Cometa about their announcement to deploy 100 hot spots in Seattle by Sept. 25 and 250 by the end of the year in an arrangement that spans several different kinds of locations and many businesses.
I asked Weis to clear up some of the public perceptions about Cometa, which hasn't been entirely clear in the past about their schedule and goals. He said that the company is "right on the schedule where we thought we would have been." Cometa was waiting for AT&T, one of its major investors, to build out a backbone which they will use to deploy on. The McDonald's deployment in New York earlier this summer wasn't what he considers their first city; Seattle will be.
"Seattle is our strategic model of multiple service providers, density and diversity of venue operators and owners, and really giving people in a city a full dense, and complete Wi-Fi experience," he said.
The company's press release confusingly listed four service providers without fully explaining the relationships. Weis said that Cometa remains committed to being a wholesale operator reselling to many service provider partners. AT&T Wireless, listed as a premier provider in the release, was willing to make certain commitments that gave them that ranking. Weis said, "It's just a reflection of the depth of the working relationship."
However, Sprint PCS, AT&T (parent company), and iPass are all initial partners in the Seattle roll-out as well, reselling access to their current and future networks. The company is "in serious conversations with a number of other service providers" that will bear fruit shortly.
I asked Weis to explain how Cometa splits costs, or if they split costs, in developing hot spots. He said that each deal was unique, and that they were planning in every case to work with national brands (like McDonald's and Barnes and Noble), regional brands (Tully's and World Wrapps), and single-location or city-specific players, like the University Village mall near my home.
Weis said, "From a customer perspective, we see the service providers as our primary revenue paying customers," and the fee structure is a cost per unit per month or cost per unit per venue visit, "but it's characterized as a fee structure that's presented to service providers."
He declined to discuss any other financial details.
In choosing their rollout strategy, Weis said that they were oriented around the notion that "we're where people want to use the network when they want to use the network at different times of the day in different social situations." That brings them into coffeeshops, but also office buildings and entire malls.
T-Mobile, to cite one instance, already operates hot spot service at the U Village mall in what I have heard several times referred to as the busiest Starbucks location in the U.S., and the 2nd store ever built by the company. Weis said that their arrangements are with the retail mall operator, and that they are unaware of and not involved in any spectrum or usage issues with individual tenants or T-Mobile.
Weis reiterated earlier projections that Cometa would install 20,000 hot spots in 50 cities. It "still feels right to us." But he's conservative about talking about deals or making disadvantageous deals for the sake of moving forward. "I lived through the dotcom bubble bust, and I saw what happened to companies that built stuff and hoped they'd match revenue against what they built." Instead, Cometa is working closely with service providers to build out the kinds of networks they're ready to pay access fees for.
In the next steps, "At some point in time, in the near future, we'll make decisions to go into the next grouping of cities, it will certainly be more than one." Seattle, however, is "not a let's see what happens and then decide what we do next." Instead, he said, "We're very comfortable with the model, we're very comfortable with the technology."
But they learned quite a lot in installing service in New York City. "It's a lot easier to install in buildings in Seattle than in buildings in Manhattan."
Verge Networks deploys Tropos in Baton Rouge: This sounds like it should be a public-private partnership, but it only mentions public safety and municipal uses in passing. The deployment will blanket downtown in a haze of Wi-Fi for all categories of users.
Cometa's Seattle announcement in the Seattle Times: Local, on-the-spot article about Cometa's announcement to blanket Seattle with Wi-Fi hot spots.
JIWIRE launches: Per my post yesterday, I'm now the editor in chief of JIWIRE, in addition to continue to edit this site and write for several publications. It's all tied together. The press release has more formal details.
We've got ambitions that are achievable at JIWIRE, and we'll have more news soon about how to submit hot spot listings to us and how to put a hot spot search box on your own site.
Sonera and Telia have rebranded their combined hot spot service (Sweden, Finland): The merged company, TeliaSonera, rebanded Sonera wGate and Telia Homerun as Sonera Homerun. The service has 700 locations, including 200 in Finland the majority of the rest in Sweden.
Hospital chain implemented secure wireless networking: 10 percent of doctors use it: Last year, Partners Healthcare System, a hospital operator, added wireless access to its patient systems. Today, 10 percent of doctors use the secure system to access information as they roam. Doctors can immediately place pharmacy orders, among other features.
I continue to hear that hospitals need wireless networks (with robust security) more than practically any other operation. You have many employees who are never at a desk, who have extremely time-critical tasks in which information can be a key to life and death or at least the difference between great care and good care. Many companies have targeted the medical market, and we should see more innovation and more interesting integration appearing over time, like Vocera's communicator badge.
Correspondent reports Penn Station Wi-Fi access gone: My correspondent reports that GuestWiFi pulled out of the Tracks Bar and Grill in Penn Station in Manhattan. The environment apparently made it difficult to run Wi-Fi, but I don't have additional details.
Forester makes strange points in brief Wi-Fi report: News.com printed a commentary from a Forester analyst which contains a variety of strange and slightly inaccurate statements. Reader Kevin White wondered why, among other things, the analyst recommended 802.11a. Let me walk through some of the problems.
Forrester believes that companies should deploy 802.11a because it bolsters capacity to 54Mbps, offers eight channels instead of three and reduces interference by using 5.8GHz instead of the 2.4GHz spectrum. This isn't bad logic, but it's not the 5.8 GHz band -- the upper 5 GHz band is reserved for four outdoor 802.11a channels. The lower two 5 GHz bands (around 5.1 to 5.3 GHz) are the indoor channels.
Although 802.11g offers high speed with backward compatibility, using the 2.4GHz band does nothing to fix interference, and the gear isn't yet standardized. Companies typically don't experience the kind of interference that causes problems in 2.4 GHz deployment with cordless phones, microwave ovens, and competing band users. 802.11g has been ratified; there are no standards issues, so I'm not sure what's meant there.
Companies with large in-place 802.11b networks should issue dual-radio cards to their users and run a mixed 802.11a/b environment until they can replace access points. 802.11a is a useful option to consider, and dual-band cards aren't a bad idea if there's a motivation. But 802.11a has specific niche markets. It's ability to penetrate obstacles is worse and its range shorter. This means that an 802.11a installation should cost substantially more than an 802.11g roll-out, plus the extra cost of dual-band cards.
The next section on implementing a secure WLAN is 2001 advice. None of this makes sense today. IT managers should be planning on rolling out 802.1X/secure EAP (PEAP, probably) installations that are inside the firewall using WPA and later 802.11i. That's where the future focus should be for installations being planned starting today. VPN-outside-the-firewall WLANs will be a thing of the past; they won't be needed and don't make sense. The "turning off the SSID" advice is more consumer and old hat. It's not a corporate-level security data point.
New WLAN switches from vendors like Aruba Wireless Networks and Trapeze Networks will improve manageability by automating calculations for access point placement and centralizing intelligence into a single--or handful--of switches. More last-generation advice. In fact, although these particular switch companies are centralizing intelligence, there's no clear market trend that that's the right approach. Dumb APs or smart APs -- there is some middle ground, and it's likely that a combination of medium-intelligence APs, VLAN switching, and policy-based WLAN management will allow different models of deployment.
Instead of paying $30 a month per user for hot spot access from T-Mobile, a company will be able to add Wi-Fi access to its AT&T remote access service for $5 per month. News to me! Is this true? Part of AT&T's deal with GRIC was to resell GRIC service to its VPN customers. But GRIC charges on a metered basis, not a flat rate.
T-Mobile puts Wi-Fi in your tank in the UK: Although Estonia beat the rest of the world on combining filling stations and Wi-Fi, the idea is finally turning into reality in other countries. T-Mobile says in this article that they'll equip 100s of petrol stations in the UK with Wi-Fi hot spots. They have 56 hot spots in the UK already. For a certain kind of business user, this is ideal, and it's part of what I think is the McDonald's model: pull up, transmit and receive for 10 to 15 minutes, and drive off.
Wi-Fi Networking News editor Glenn Fleishman joins JIWIRE as editor in chief: The cat's out of the bag, folks. I've joined JIWIRE, a new Web site covering Wi-Fi and offering a detailed hot spot directory, as editor in chief on a part-time basis. I'll still be writing this site and writing as a freelancer, but my main focus will be JIWIRE.
JIWIRE is a hot-spot directory that lets you type in any address, seattle, Zip or postal code, or other details to find locations. We have a great starting set of locations, and we have plans to expand and improve.
My job is on the content side: writing and editing features and reviews about using Wi-Fi, configuring Wi-Fi, and installing Wi-Fi. Our editorial plans are extensive, and you'll hear more about them soon.
For the time being, Wi-Fi Networking News will remain its own beast, but we'll be pulling together a closer and closer affiliation between JIWIRE and this site over time. Watch for news here.
The official launch is tomorrow, but since you're reading this site, you get the scoop. More details shortly.
Cometa makes first big push: 250 locations in Seattle area with AT&T Wireless as operator partner: Cometa's plans start to see the light of day as an integrated set of offerings among several venues with an operator brand on top. On Intel's "one unwired day" on Sept. 25, Cometa will have 100 locations live in the Seattle area, with 250 by the end of the year.
The venues include McDonald’s Corporation (50 sites), Barnes & Noble Booksellers (12 sites), Tully’s Coffee (40 sites), World Wrapps restaurants (9 sites), Equity Office (including over eight office properties in downtown Seattle and Bellevue, such as the prestigious Bank of America Tower, Seattle’s tallest building), Seattle Central Community College, Overlake Golf and Country Club, and Broadmoor Golf Club.
The company will also deploy wider hot spot zones at University Village and Bellevue Square, the two largest premium malls in the greater Seattle area, both coincidentally home to the first two Apple Stores in the Northwest (the U Village store opens later this year). Apple offers free Wi-Fi in all of their stores, incidentally.
This is the first time we've heard specifics about the Barnes & Noble plan, or any mention of World Wrapps.
What's unclear in the press release is that AT&T Wireless is the "premier service provider," but Sprint (not Sprint PCS?), AT&T (which operates the McDonald's with Cometa in NYC and Newark airport), and iPass "will also provide Wi-Fi service to Seattle area customers." Is this just a reseller relationship?
Later today, I'll be interviewing Cometa's CEO and will report on that here. I live in Seattle, not far from the U Village mall, so I should be able to follow the unwiring quite closely.
Coffee shop in Mattoon, IL, offers free Wi-Fi: Mattoon is a small town, about 40 to 80 miles from larger population centers as the crow flies and much longer by major interstates. The first free Wi-Fi in town rates a full news story with photograph, and quotes from other shops thinking about adding service.
I've been getting email from people who have read various stories I've written about free Wi-Fi in restaurants who are wrestling with how to offer free service while maintaining necessary security and bandwidth throttling for their own purposes. I'll be writing soon about the right hardware for that job.
Borders has three-quarters of its stores hot spotted: The chain now has 420 stores (up from under 400 when the T-Mobile deal was announced last year), and plans to have them all equipped before Christmas.
Australian state to deploy Wi-Fi trial to test business use: The government of Queensland will put hot spots in 20 locations by October 2003 to test the potential of Wi-Fi as a tool for business. Access to their portal will be free; other services will cost AUD$0.20 per minute (US$0.13). Service will be offered notably in several railway stations.
T-Mobile to install Wi-Fi in remainder of Delta Crown lounges in airports: This deal was announced last fall, but only a handful of lounges were equipped. Now, they're installing all 40 nationwide.
Interestingly, as I talk to folks in the airline industry, it's becoming clearer and clearer that this carved-out lounge deals could wind up getting wiped out, not grandfathered, as airports stop renewing leases on airlines -- turning them into renters or imposing new conditions -- and build out unified Wi-Fi infrastructure. Of course, that means that a provider could still offer access on the infrastructure and only allow lounge members to access it, but that seems less likely.
The Cloud scores payphone/kiosk deal for 7,000 locations: The UK Wi-Fi operator The Cloud, part of a group that offers gaming to pubs, has signed a deal with NWP Spectrum, a firm that operates payphones and Internet kioks across Britain. The Cloud has 1,800 locations running so far, and expects thousands more -- not including this deal -- in the next year.
Payphones as Wi-Fi terminals isn't a new idea, but it's gaining traction. When I spoke to Ken Haase of Proxim last month, he noted that Verizon's rollout of Wi-Fi-equipped payphones for Verizon DSL customers in New York used Proxim's gear. Proxim customized its AP2500 product line. The unit includes a DSL modem and the hot spot, but it's built to be invisible. "You don’t see something you can rip open and take away with you," Haase said. Verizon predicts 1,500 of these in New York City alone. [via TechDirt]
More on Broadcom AirForce One: I spoke to Broadcom last week in advance of their announcement today that they had put an entire 802.11b radio and interface into a single CMOS method chip. Here are some additional details to complement this morning's coverage.
I spoke with Jeff Abramowitz, the senior director of WLAN marketing at Broadcom. Jeff has a long history in the industry, including at other wireless LAN semiconductor firms.
Abramowitz noted that batteries for cell phones have 1/50th to 1/100th the capacity of a laptop battery, and that, along with other similar form factors, was their starting point.
Among other details, they chose to use a 1.8 volt input on the module, which is common in handhelds, instead of the 3.3V laptop power supply; that actually improves power characteristics.
Because the chip contains all of the necessary components in silicon, including the power amplifier, the module can be tested at the chip level, which improves yield, speeds up production, and reduces cost.
Abramowitz said that the entire portfolio of Broadcom add-ons are available in the chip, including frame bursting, which is their version of an upcoming standard to allow 802.11b and 802.11g to better interoperate.
He agreed that Bluetooth's future is complementary with other technologies, and that Bluetooth will center around the phone because of so much investment and infrastructure.
The company expects to announce manufacturing partners that supply end-user equipment in October.
The practical how-to guide and ins and outs of the SanDisk Wi-Fi Compact Flash card: This detailed look at the product shows configuration screens and provides troubleshooting information on using this card with a PocketPC. [via Gizmodo]
Om points out that mammoth Intel is beaten again by fleet Broadcom: With Intel promoting itself as the wireless leader, they have relatively little in-house wireless expertise, and Broadcom's new single-chip 802.11b solution hammers home the advantages of small, fast-moving, focused firms, especially in an age of outsourced fabrication ("fabless" chipmakers).
Intel does have the thought leadership on Wi-Fi, as they've hammered their message home quite well. Ultimately, though, they're a hardware company. They need to master this area of silicon in house to produce the margins they need long-term, even if the game right now is about selling laptop systems, not just Wi-Fi chips.
CEDX offers free Wi-Fi, too: New York-area hot spot operator CEDX will be part of Intel's one unwired day, Sept. 25, via their Boingo affiliation, but they're also offering free access of their own. I like to spotlight hot spot operators trying out unique marketing experiments, and Craig Plunkett, the company's CEO, has been a consistent, informative correspondent as he charts his ways through entrepreneurship.
(Where will I be on "one unwired day"? Camping with my wife to celebrate our anniversary far from electromagnetic networks and with no laptop or PDA in sight.)
Map of free Wi-Fi in Berkeley, California: A call for listings of free Berkeley by Sean of Cheese Bikini. This is a nice informal way to share information about Wi-Fi access and support businesses that might be trying this out as an experiment.
Broadcom offers single-chip 802.11b with efficient power use: Broadcom has grabbed the brass ring by producing an incredibly energy-efficient 802.11b module that's barely larger than a dime. With a single chip that combines the power amplifier, radio, baseband, and MAC mounted on a tiny bit of epoxy circuit board, Broadcom offers manufacturers a way to include 802.11b support in the smallest, most battery-limited devices.
Broadcom's new system means that cell phones, MP3s players, handhelds, cameras, and other devices could offer integral 802.11b without draining batteries or filling external slots. Broadcom has some impressive slides on power usage, noting that their standby power mode is 97 percent more miserly than the Centrino chipset.
The new system is also entirely in CMOS, a standard method of producing silicon integrated circuits, and uses standard processes, which allows Broadcom to produce the chip in the largest and cheapest quantities on contract at practically any fabrication plant. Other silicon methods may require more specialized plants or smaller wafers, which keep costs higher even in full production.
Broadcom told me that they expect to offer the units for about $12 to $13 each in quantities of 10,000 or more (which are very small quantities for silicon) by first quarter of 2004.
Sometimes cross promotions and linked events just come across as strange: Barenaked Ladies, Alcatraz, and Wi-Fi: Apparently, T-Mobile would like you to associate their brand with a big, old jail, and if you're caught using Wi-Fi in one of their locations -- one of the lucky 1 to 2 people per day on average who use it, based on numbers Starbucks provided a few months ago -- you'll be shanghaied to The Rock.
Wonderful, breathless PR prose: the "T-Mobile ALL ACCESS" HotSpot Patrol will be visiting select Starbuck's coffeehouses and Borders Books and Music locations in San Francisco to spontaneously award customers who are using T-Mobile's HotSpot 'Wi-Fi' (802.11b) service. I'm not sure spontaneously is the right word unless the "T-Mobile ALL ACCESS" HotSpot Patrol goes into a fugue state before handing out the prize.
The concert will be Webcast in some fashion, but the press release just says fans from around the world will have the opportunity to watch the concert live -- opportunity often means opportunity to pay, but I think it might be free.
This press release just cracks me up, because it veers from trying to sound incredibly hip to using over-the-top adjectives ("the famous island of Alcatraz") to dropping into heavy marketese and then into statistics and business cases. Pick a tone, people, and stick with it! Oh, you mean this was written by committee. I see. Sorry.
Exclusive: Surf and Sip signs Amrest in Eastern Europe: In another demonstration of how Wi-Fi is heating up in the rest of the world, Surf and Sip CEO Rick Ehrlinspiel wrote in to announce that they have signed the Amrest restaurant chain in Poland, Czech Republic, and Slovakia. They'll have 130 locations equipped with Wi-Fi, starting with Warsaw and Prague at the end of September. Surf and Sip has rights to 400 locations across those three countries and Hungary which they expect to fulfill within 12 months.
Amrest operates KFC and Pizza Hut in the three countries mentioned above, but they aren't the typical US urban version. Rick notes, People hang out there much like they would at a Starbucks plus they can get a pint of suds. (See a photo of one of these establishments snapped by Rick in mid-August.)
Surf and Sip is approaching 150 locations in the UK, including terminals 1 and 2 at Heathrow.
Danish firm demos 42-inch plasma screen with integrated 802.11g: The TV set supports HDTV, and can stream audio and video from a PC. It has a built-in DVD player as well. [via Gizmodo]
AAA baseball team may be first ballpark with Wi-Fi: I can't seem to recall a similar story, and the Sacramento River Cats think they're the first at Raley Field. (In Portland, Ore., a ballpark has Wi-Fi, but only through a nearby connection which caused a little controversy.)
Initially, Wi-Fi is available just in suites and the "Solon Club," their business club. (A Solon is a wise and capable leader, says the dictionary, named for the Athenian legislator.)
But next season, Wi-Fi will be ubiquitous, and they expect laptops and PDAs to show up. Even better -- peanuts, getcher peanuts! USB phone charger, getcher USB phone charger -- fans will be able to order food delivered to their seats.
In my continuing theme to find the infrastructure/information technology angle to all public-space hot spots, the ballpark says that their operations staff will use the Wi-Fi system to adjust lighting and heating/cooling remotely via handhelds. They'll also scan tickets at the gates and use it for security systems by year's end.
Linksys ships $200 802.11b camera: The WVC11B has nice specs for this kind of device, including both 802.11b and 10/100 Mbps Ethernet support, 320 x 240 resolution images, the ability to stream to disk, and dynamic DNS support via SoloLink. If you turn on a security mode, the camera will email still when it sense motion. [via SmallNetBuilder -- read also about Linksys's upcoming VPN server]
GRIC follows other aggregators: Like iPass in May and Boingo last month, GRIC adds the STSN footprint of nearly 600 wired hotels, 475 of which have Wi-Fi in some area.
Tully's signs with Cometa for Wi-Fi: Cometa will build hot spots in Tully's Coffee stores in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and California. You wouldn't ask for something as crass as the number of locations covered by the deal; the number, 98, is hidden in the store backgrounder at the bottom. Cometa plans to install most locations within three months. Pricing and other details will be released in two weeks.
I could write all kinds of self-evident statements here, including, "How do you install 20,000 locations in two years when you're committed to installing a total of under 200 (McDonald's and Tully's) in nearly the first year of operation?" But I won't. (I'll leave that to you all in the comments section.)
Tully's is a reasonably well-known brand up here in the Northwest, but it's not the cachet that I'd be expecting Cometa to be launching their network with. First, McDonald's, a global brand with massive foot traffic and billions upon billions of dollars in revenue; next...Tully's?
For Cometa to meet its brand challenge, and let me get all markety here, they need to score a 1,000-plus locations in a chain with international scope, and they need to do it soon: maybe by Feb. 2004, or they'll have lost the battle to sign premium brands.
Intel won't sell Intel-brand access points and other gear, but Centrino remains on the table: In a commodity market, how can Intel product remain non-fungible? By only selling into areas where they can own the market or preserve margins. Centrino's wireless adapter is one of those, where they might be losing on every chipset but gaining by holding the marketplace. [via Ken Berger]
V-Link uses Colubris gear to unwire Whistler, British Columbia: The resort town of Whistler, a few hours from my Seattle residence, is a glorious skiing community year-round (great snow in the winter, glaciers in the summer), and a hot-bed of hiking and biking in the summer. It's a logical place to have Wi-Fi.
A few weeks ago, it came out that various companies and the municipality were all trying to rig their own Wi-Fi networks at the same time, for somewhat different purposes. It looks like the town got its network out first: they're calling it Yodel. This first phase covers what V-Link is describing as 50 percent of the accommodations and public areas. Costs aren't discussed, except to note payment methods.
The Creekside development mentioned in the press release is an interesting side note. Whistler and Blackcomb used to be two separate ski areas, and they merged a few years ago. One pass gets you access to either or both mountains, and the gondolas in the Upper Village splay to either mountain. Creekside is an older, funkier chunk of condos and a few shops and restaurants a few miles from Whistler Village.
It's in need of a refresh (and a lot of construction has been going on there when I've been up in the last few years). It's not considered as prime, because although it's ski in/ski out, you have to take a long lift up over one side to get to the real mountain, and the ski out looks pretty grim on low coverage days.
With the Olympics coming to Vancouver in 2010, Whistler and the surrounding area will be a hotbed of hundreds of millions of dollars of construction -- if you didn't buy a condo here before, don't try to buy one now, I imagine. This Wi-Fi service and others that rise up will be taking advantage not only of 2 million yearly visitors and 10,000 residents, but also of the more sophisticated rush of contractors, athletes, and others who will be spending increasing amounts of time over the next six years up in B.C.
Bob Rudis puts two Wi-Fi detectors head to head: Bob's tests seem to show clearly that the Smart ID WFS-1 beats the Kensington WiFi Finder hands down both for clarity, performance, and directionality.
The links take you to isbn.nu, a book price comparison Web site to find the lowest price at most online bookstores.
Wireless Hacks by Rob Flickenger. This guide to how to become a wireless sophisticate should be on the shelf of anyone with the urge to extend their range, make their own antennas, dive into the command line, or figure out the best way to connect two locations topographically. It's a fun book that brings back some of the thrill of yesterday, when hobbyists ruled the technology roost. Follow the link for more details.
The Wireless Networking Starter Kit by Adam Engst and Glenn Fleishman. Your humble editor of this Web site has written a 336-page tome with a colleague about the underpinnings of wireless networks and how to use them, including chapters on long-range wireless, using wireless on the road with hot spots and community networks, and configuring software (both clients and gateways).
Build Your Own Wi-Fi Network by Shelly Brisbin. This how-to book aimed at people who want to build their own wireless network using Wi-Fi offers practical background and step-by-step advice.
802.11 Wireless Networks: The Definitive Guide by Matthew Gast (O'Reilly & Associates).The book covers all the issues around using wireless network-based systems for IT professionals and programmers. The detailed approach to the protocol level issues surrounding Wi-Fi is a necessity for anyone trying to understand how to develop software that runs over a wireless network, or build networks around the protocols that underlie the 802.11 family. O'Reilly has a sample chapter online.
Building Wireless Community Networks by Rob Flickenger (O'Reilly and Associates, 2001). Publisher's description: "Building Wireless Community Networks offers a compelling case for building wireless networks on a local level: They are inexpensive, and they can be implemented and managed by the community using them, whether it's a school, a neighborhood, or a small business. This book also provides all the necessary information for planning a network, getting the necessary components, and understanding protocols that you need to design and implement your network." (Full review here.)
The CWNA Study Guide: training material for the certified wireless network administration test.