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.
The yearly round-up: You'll see long reviews of 2003 elsewhere, so I'll be succinct. What happened this year?
* 802.11g was approved and caught on like wildfire. Despite concerns of pre-ratification release of wonky G devices, it sold hundreds of thousands of units, and firmly put 802.11a into the back seat -- into the trunk, really. Late in 2003, Broadcom's claims (verified in part by Tim Higgins) that Atheros's Super G mode interferes with Broadcom's 802.11g chipsets coupled with the Wi-Fi Alliance's admission that 25 percent of Wi-Fi devices fail their certification test the first time around could make compatibility and interoperability the number one issue in 2004.
* WPA appears. Wi-Fi Protected Access solves security problems, but manufacturers and the Wi-Fi Alliance are still lagging about six months after it started to appear in certified devices in making firmware upgrades available for older equipment and making the whole WPA package appealing, compatible, and simple across different devices -- even those by the same manufacturer. Apple's AirPort Extreme update and Linksys's WRT54G update are good examples: you can only use new, G devices locked in WPA mode with these units, and neither interface has the same options or parameters as the other.
* 5 GHz expands. With 255 MHz more bandwidth and international harmonization, the 5 GHz band is poised to take off as WiMax (a formalization of part of 802.16a) becomes the way to offer point-to-point broadband and backhaul.
* Bridging becomes cheap. More and more devices offer inexpensive WDS-based bridging for expanding consumer and corporate networks.
* WLAN switches proliferate. Too many makers, too many overlapping features, too many big companies that aren't in the space yet. Who will be left standing even with the piles of venture capital that flooded this space? Possibly, whoever Cisco buys in 2004.
* Hotspot market continues to fail to mature. Despite all the predictions and all the build-out plans, the hotspot market continues to struggle to reach the kind of ubiquity that would justify travelers spending $20 to $40 per month for unlimited access. T-Mobile's end-of-the-year partnership with iPass probably marks the real turning point for business traveler access because of iPass's blue-chip portfolio of companies.
* Cell data starts to break 100 Kbps. 3G may not be widespread, but tests in Washington DC and San Diego became deployments, offering over 200 Kbps in real-world tests. Meanwhile, AT&T Wireless becomes the first nationwide EDGE deployer, which can offer over 100 Kbps in the best circumstances, but almost always well outpaces GPRS, 1xRTT, and dial-up "56K" modems.
What will 2004 bring? More security, higher cell data rates, and the final blossoming of hotspots in public spaces.
This month, SeattleWireless TV features the New Zealand Wi-Fi treasure hunt and a Washington county's law enforcement network: In New Zealand, the community group did a treasure hunt where participants raced to find APs. They were given the rough coordinates of the first AP then clues to find the next AP were found in each AP's SSID.
In Yakima County, Washington, various county agencies have built a Wi-Fi network made up of eight Cisco APs so that law enforcement agencies can share data. Police can share and access data such as mug shots, warrant information, and license plates. The APs are hung on city-owned facilities like water towers. Cops save around $50 per month per car by using the Wi-Fi network instead of CDPD, the old data network offered by some cellular operators. The cities in the counties also save as much as $700 a month because they aren't using the frame relay networks they did use. The city works with residents who may have their own Wi-Fi networks to ensure the best performance on all the networks.
The University of Georgia is entering a new phase of its WAGZone experiment: A year ago, the university and the Athens Clarke County government launched a Wi-Fi zone that covers 20 blocks of downtown. Since then, students have built 40 proof-of-concept projects that use the network.
Now, the university has launched the Mobile Media Consortium as an academic-industry partnership to spur the development of technologies that use the network that can improve quality of life. Initial industry partners include HP, XcellNet, Air2Web, and ExecuTrain. The consortium hopes to add five more partners.
The new APs support 802.11a, 802.11b, and 802.11g: They also support WPA and 802.1x authentication with support for FUNK Odyssey and Microsoft's RADIUS servers.
Truckers are really enjoying using Wi-Fi at truck stops: They use it to keep in touch with family but also to get directions or information about road construction or to send photos to bosses about goods that may be damaged at pick up. This story mentions Flying J, Truckstop.net, and TravelCenters of America as truck stops that are rolling out Wi-Fi or plan to.
MetroFi doesn't appear to have officially introduced itself to the world: Its Web site is pretty stripped down and only says that the company plans to build a nationwide residential broadband network using Wi-Fi. Most of its leaders come from Covad, though its CTO was the CTO for Metricom. I'll be interested to see what exactly these guys are planning as it seems that WiMAX might be a better technology for such a network.
Apparently Craig McCaw has formed a new company, Flux, and has acquired some MMDS spectrum: Little else is known about what plans the company might have.
Glenn thinks McCaw could use the spectrum to circumvent Wi-Fi and sell backhaul and business services. I think that any technology deployed over the MMDS spectrum will end up being a residential or a small to medium business offering--something that competes with DSL or offers a similar service where DSL or other broadband options aren't available.
Meanwhile, Nextel has snapped up a bunch of MMDS spectrum and McCaw just resigned from Nextel's board. I've heard that Nextel may want to use the spectrum to deploy a mobile WiMAX service which would essentially offer 3G services. We may learn more at the end of January when a Nextel exec will be one of the keynote speakers at the Wireless Communications Association annual meeting. That conference was the place to be when MMDS and LMDS were hot.
National Scientific has developed a platform that enables tracking and positioning information on a Wi-Fi network: The platform can find the location of a device within a few feet. I imagine this application might be useful in manufacturing scenarios.
It seems that Ken Denman, CEO of iPass, and his good nature can take credit for the T-Mobile deal going through: Denman was around when iPass originally made a deal with MobileStar, then he watched MobileStar head to bankruptcy. But he managed to keep the doors open to making another deal with T-Mobile, which scooped up MobileStar. Apparently negotiations on the details of the T-Mobile deal were stalling but Denman got pulled in and both sides gave up ground to make it happen. IPass is in the midst of making a similar deal with Cometa, where Denman is equally respected.
Not to add to the lovefest here, but Glenn and I talked to Denman a week or so ago about the T-Moble deal and we were impressed that Denman seems like a regular guy--he's not full of lame marketing-speak. He also seems to know what he's talking about--he's not just a smooth, figurehead CEO.
While iPass is a great option for heavy travelers whose companies have deals with iPass, individual travelers must look elsewhere for a Wi-Fi subscription that includes many hotspots: Global Broadband Internet Access members may offer a good option. Hotspot operators around the world are part of the group and as such offer roaming onto their networks. Most of the operators are in Europe, including The Cloud in the U.K. and a handful of operators in the Netherlands, but Surf and Sip is also part of the group.
Currently there are 1,900 hotspots in the network but that number should grow to 2,500 by the end of January.
This reviewer, while impressed by some features of the Pocket PC, doesn’t think it's worth buying just yet: If you've been waiting for a Wi-Fi capable PDA with a slightly larger screen, this is it. The screen on the Toshiba e800 measures four inches diagonally.
It offers much better resolution than most PDAs but the catch is that when in the high resolution mode, the PDA is virtually useless. This reviewer couldn't point to a single application that supports the resolution. So even the standard Pocket PC apps like Word, Excel and PowerPoint don't work when the device is on the high resolution setting. That means users can read documents in those programs but can't interact with them.
Joerg at StadNetz wrote to us to explain how the AOL hotspots work in Germany. AOL has 150 Internet terminals in coffee shops throughout the country and the sites have been made into hotspots. AOL customers who pay the monthly flat rate subscription, can use the terminals for free. But according to Joerg, most AOL users in Germany pay as they go. That means those AOL customers pay their normal rate to use the public Wi-Fi terminals.
Only customers with an AOL client can use the hotspot, which is really limiting. That means if a non-AOL customers walks in with a laptop and wants to pay for use, he can't.
We may start seeing more smart antenna technology built into WLAN gear soon: Already Vivato and Bandspeed use smart antennas and Motia is building smart antenna technology into chips. Some analysts say that smart antennas will encourage more enterprises to use WLANs as the networks may be easier to build because they'll require fewer APs.
ParkerVision introduced a USB adapter that can pick up a Wi-Fi signal a mile away, when used with the company's router and PC card: The 802.11b gear uses special technology developed by ParkerVision and costs $100.
Boingo has added 200 hotels with Wi-Fi networks built by Arescom to its network: Also, Boingo partnered with Motive to offer service provisioning software to carriers. The software makes it easier for end users to configure their computers for wired or wireless broadband connections.
Through the end of February, T-Mobile hotspots in Germany are free to all users: AOL subscribers can also reportedly find free hotspots in Germany at Stadtnetz, but I can't vouch for the content of the site as it's all in German. [via Klaus.]
Ken Biba, resigned as chairman of Vivato. Geoffrey Baehr, a director at the company, is now chairman. Biba had resigned as CEO a few months ago. Vivato has an interim CEO but is looking for a permenant leader.
The spotlight fell on Vivato when it laid off 34 workers starting in the summer. Biba's resignation as CEO encouraged speculation that there was trouble at the company. Vivato has 54 customers.
The interim CEO says, in this article, that Vivato doesn't come up against much competition as it chases university customers. That's very funny as I know of a handful of other switch or gateway makers that have university customers. Vivato has plenty of competition for university customers.
The story comes from VentureWire, which appears to be a subscription news and information service.
A recent study shows that 10 percent of Canadians use hotspots. That rate jumps to 17 percent for the 18 to 34 year old age bracket.
Canadians also say they prefer to pay a flat monthly fee of around $25 rather then by the day or the hour. Only 2 percent thought access should be free. Another recent study amongst Americans showed that the vast majority of Wi-Fi users choose a free hotspot over one that charges for access.
Decima Research did the study but I couldn't find details on its site.
Some writers at the Dallas Morning News tried out a couple of 802.11g products and ran into a lot of trouble: This story gives a nice glimpse into the experience of a couple of guys without tons of technical experience trying to set up a network. They first noticed incompatabilities between products that were based on the draft standard and those issued after the final standard. They also struggled with implementing WEP and WPA. In fact, they couldn't implement either when installing D-Link gear. They also couldn't implement D-Link's XtremeG upgrade that boosts speed to 108 Mbps.
The Toshiba blue screen of death problem they report could have come from installing the Microsoft Windows XP WPA update on a Toshiba Centrino model. Last time we checked, the Toshiba Centrino wasn't certified to use that update; Intel long ago (May) released a compatibility update to manufacturers for WPA, but each Centrino vendor has to release it separately as part of their driver update package.
AirDefense monitored the air at Wi-Fi Planet and found a huge number of security breaches: The company saw 21 attempted man-in-the-middle attacks, of which 16 were successful. The rest of the numbers are pretty shocking. In just one day, AirDefense also found 75 denial-of-service attacks targeted at APs, 125 attempted identity thefts by spoofing MAC addresses and 24 fake AP attacks.
With that kind of activity, you'd better use the best security options you've got. But most people didn't. Only 6 percent of corporate email downloads used a VPN and 89 laptops were configured to allow ad hoc networking. I think this kind of data is an argument for not using Wi-Fi in an environment like Wi-Fi Planet unless you know how to secure your laptop.
The WiMAX Forum is holding a meeting the day before the Wireless Communications Association's conference the end of January: A portion of the WiMAX Forum day will be open to anyone and will review current activities of the forum and look at the future of WiMAX.
Concourse Communications built a Wi-Fi network in part of Detroit's airport: The network will be free through the end of the holidays and after that will cost $6.95 for daily use. Concourse went through some restructuring a few months ago, and is finally getting caught up on its contracted airports. It's had Detroit under contracts for years, and the three New York/New Jersey airports (JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark) are about to get fully built out as well instead of the partial service now available.
Om Malik breaks the news that Vonage will soon have laptop and PDA-based software client for its service: It's not news that Vonage has tens of thousands of subscribers, nor that they offer a high-quality, full-featured hardware-based broadband voice-over-IP service that allows you to map multiple incoming real phone numbers to your virtual line.
It also not news that you can get high-quality software VoIP clients; I'm personally enamored of Xten's suite, which work with Windows, Mac OS X, LindowsOS, and Linux. They're beautiful and come in free and paid flavors, including a multi-line conference version.
The Xten clients can interface with any standard SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) server, and many of the VoIP providers who offer long-distance over the Internet use standard SIP gateways. But getting from Xten outbound to the VoIP provider is a pain: I had to have the CEO of Xten provide me the details for a couple of VoIP services; those details aren't on the VoIP long-distance service sites.
Then there's the question of inbound service. Even though you can use Xten as the default client with Addaline.com, it's unclear whether you can receive inbound calls via their service. Most of the VoIP in software is focused on making calls to the PSTN and receiving calls from other folks using services like Free World Dial-up, which provides you with a free non-PSTN VoIP number and SIP gateway.
Om's scoop is certainly that Vonage is going to package the software and PSTN offering into a no-configuration package that will be as easy to use as their hardware service. Vonage's hardware solution is pretty simple: open the box, plug it in, wait a minute. You're done. Voice mail calls can be alerted via email, and other features can be enabled through the Web site's dashboard for your account.
Because Vonage works over broadband, a Pocket PC or a laptop equipped with their soft client in turn connected to a Wi-Fi hotspot or access point means free phone service everywhere -- it's another incentive to lower cell phone plans (for roaming purposes) and increase the number of hot spot locations.
[Update @ 3.45 pm: Andy Abramson of KenRadio wrote in to note that this is a public beta for existing Vonage users as of Dec. 8, which they reported on, and that there's no Pocket PC beta nor one that's in the works, as far as he's aware.]
I'm a recent Vonage convert. I use my cell phone as my office and roaming line, and although I'd switched to a $130/month plan from Cingular because of their rollover minutes, I had $250 and $450 bills in September and October during particularly intense work periods. Yes, that's the cost of doing business in a virtual way, so I'm not complaining. But I set out to figure out how to do it better.
I signed up for the $25/month Vonage plan (unlimited toll-free, incoming, and local calls, 500 minutes of long distance) and will be reducing my Cingular service by $30 and 350 minutes per month, thus canceling out the Vonage cost while also eliminating pesky unexpected charges. (I also discovered a bad latency problem on our local network that my ISP is now helping me solve -- Vonage needs low latency to work best.)
I'm still waiting for Cingular and Sony Ericsson to release a T68i FastForward cradle. This cradle allows you to pay Cingular $3/month for unlimited, zero-charge forwarded calls to a local number. Each cradle is programmed with the forwarding number, so you can have these cradles everywhere. Problem is, Cingular's site says that cradles are available; Cingular's outlets say May 2004.
Like other WLAN switch vendors, Trapeze has come out with some upgrades that address shortcomings indicated by the market: Trapeze access points now support 802.11g and Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) encryption keys, which are part of the 802.11i security spec in progress. (WPA includes only TKIP keys, far superior to WEP, but not as good as AES for government-grade operations.)
The access points can also connect directly to an existing switch or a Trapeze switch so customers have more options in how they architect the network. The platform now can also continuously scan the air for rogue APs. Once rogues are found, it identifies their locations on a network map.
Trapeze also integrated with SpectraLink's voice over Wi-Fi solution so the platform will support the solution. Trapeze has already integrated with Vocera and Telesym, other voice over Wi-Fi vendors.
PCTEL gets $3.5 million and Broadcom as a customer after the two settle a patent dispute: PCTEL charged Broadcom with patent infringement in regards to a soft modem that PCTEL said it created and patented. Broadcom agreed to license PCTEL's modem patents and become a PCTEL Segue Roaming Client customer.
D-Link is offering a new version of its videophone product that uses Wi-Fi to turn your TV into a videophone: It even uses the speakers on the TV to support the conversation. D-Link says it works on any TV and uses Wi-Fi to connect to the Internet. It displays video images at 30 frames per second.
Gloolabs has developed an audio device design that can run on any device that supports Java: The middleware collects music stored on any networked device in a variety of file types including MP3, Internet Radio, AAC, WAV, and soon WMA files. It also supports playlists from MusicMatch, WinAmp, and iTunes.
The first customer is MacSense which has built its Linux-based HomePod using the middleware. It can stream music from a networked computer using Wi-Fi and has its own speakers but could also be hooked up to a stereo. Controls and interface on the device are described as iPod-esque.
Gloolabs also plans to market the software for use on laptops and PDAs. [via slashdot]
Thirteen of Starbucks' 39 shops in Malaysia have Wi-Fi and it's free to use: It sounds like Starbucks plans to keep it that way in Malaysia. The company encourages IT companies to use Starbucks coffee shops to hold product launches. A new notebook and Microsoft Office solutions are examples of products that have been launched locally there.
It'll be interesting to see how different models for the Wi-Fi business shake out in different markets.
Alcatel and SatWan have set up a bunch of hotzones in the north part of Madrid, Spain: The offering serves homes and businesses, using satellite for backhaul. SatWan is also offering a voice service over the network.
Legal Grounds coffee shop in Dallas is the primary office for a number of independent workers: This story is a great peek into the lives of a handful of people who regularly spend most of their work days on their laptops in this coffee shop.
TechDirt points out that because these folks are there all the time, they know the workers at the cafe and don't want to get in their way or hurt the coffee shop's business. As such, they share tables or leave when it gets busy. There's no feeling here that these folks hurt business for the shop by camping out all day.
Some of the workers who hang out at the shop find that working there is good for business. They make deals with each other and find customers in other visitors to the coffee shop. [via techdirt]
STSN to install service in La Quinta hotels: Wired broadband in the rooms, Wi-Fi in the public areas. The service will be free, but meeting room use will be at a fee. The Wi-Fi offering will include both 802.11a and 802.11b. STSN will install the service during first quarter 2004. STSN provides service to about 700 hotels.
British Telecom is testing long-haul wireless for broadband in more rural areas: BT has committed to making broadband available everywhere it serves by 2006, but ADSL won't cut it in all markets.
MCI's Wi-Fi network includes 2,000 more locations via Boingo: The press release and this article from News.com don't clarify precisely what's going on here. I was unaware MCI even had a Wi-Fi option, and its 600 locations sound very much like Wayport, a fact the News.com article confirms (sort of: the current version says WavePort is the partner, but I assume this is Wayport).
Boingo already includes the Wayport locations in its total, so if MCI adds Boingo, does that mean that its customers will have double access to Wayport? And I've never heard of MCI's client software, either. More clarification's probably necessary to understand this deal.
Tim Higgins of SmallNetBuilder fame has detailed his thorough experiments on the affects that products with the Atheros Super-G chip have on nearby WLANs: If you have any interest in the issue, you should really read this because he does a great job of explaining his methods and results.
He also goes the extra mile by realizing that it might be a good idea to test the Atheros products against non-Broadcom gear. Turns out that was a great idea because products with Broadcom chips realize greater degradation then others.
With his own studies in hand, Higgins draws some great conclusions. For one, he notes that Atheros' response to Broadcom's claims was essentially, "Is Not!" and that response isn't appropriate. While Atheros was forthcoming with Glenn Fleishman when he and I wrote a story about this situation for PC World, the company hasn't gone out of its way to offer any solid data that might disprove Broadcom's claims.
Higgins suspects that Atheros knew it should test the Super-G product more before shipping but likely was just anxious to get to market with a product that doubles the speed of other gear. We all know it's a competitive market out there, but introducing products that could have serious affects on other nearby products isn't the way to grow a market.
This whole situation contributes to recent whispers in the industry pointing to the potential for real trouble with the lack of interoperability among 802.11 gear. The more competitive the market the more vendors will be tempted to add a special sauce that can differentiate their products. The trouble is that everybody loses if that special sauce isn't compatible with everything else. What's the point of banding behind an industry group like Wi-Fi Alliance if vendors don't get their products tested or if the group doesn't do stringent testing?
Netopia is offering a new gateway, PC card and configuration wizard all aimed at making it easier for consumers to use WEP: The gateway ships with WEP turned on and the set-up wizard makes it easy to configure the gateway and WEP.
New FatPort division called mobitus has developed and offers a VOIP service: Users must get the mobitus software phone for their laptops and a headset. The service costs $16.95 (CDN) a month which includes unlimited calls to other mobitus customers. Long distance rates apply to long-distance calls to non-mobitus users.
Mobitus is one of the few VOIP offerings that encourages customers to use public hotspots. Other folks like TeleSym that offer voice over Wi-Fi are more focused on enterprise customers using the offering on a corporate WLAN. Other VOIP offerings, like Vonage, tell people that using the service in a public hotspot is complicated.
Wired News reports that while the number of hotspots is growing quickly, the number of users isn't: John Yunker of Pyramid Research notes that it's really hard to figure out how many people are paying for hotspot use seeing as few of the operators release customer numbers. He also says that it'll be tough to make money from hotspots as a standalone business. He sees more potential success for companies that may also operate other telecom networks.
I think the market will have to reach a critical mass of hotspots that a subscriber to any service can use. Until then, only a subset of business people will be willing to pay for it. The T-Mobile/iPass announcement may contribute to that critical mass through aggregation, but only for large enterprises that use iPass.
Another story has a few more details from the In-Stat/MDR study that the Wired News story cites. A large majority of hotspot users--71 percent--say their companies pay for the cost of access. And more than half the people who say they choose a venue based on Wi-Fi say they also choose the free location over the one that costs.
Crew on the USS Coronado are trialing Vocera's Wi-Fi badges: I know that hospitals and other organizations are already using the system from Vocera but I just don't see it. Depending on what the Navy wants to use them for, this sounds like a recipe for disaster. What if it's noisy and the badge can't pick up the user's command to dial someone? I'm still very cautious about anything that uses voice recognition because I've yet to see anything that works well.
The Evansville, Ind. Regional airport is hoping to build a Wi-Fi network: The airport managers have spoken with different companies about building the network and may go with SBC, which would build the network for free and offer the airport a cut of profits. The airport would then partner with one of the larger hotspot providers to market and bill the service. If you read the article, you'll also learn about other exciting changes at the airport, like a new restaurant.
In its first distribution deal, T-Mobile will allow iPass access to its network of nearly 4,000 U.S. hotspots (also: read Nancy Gohring's print coverage): iPass typically charges a per-minute fee for dial-up, wired, and wireless access to its aggregated partner networks. With T-Mobile, they will charge their customers $9.99 for a 24-hour period, and just like a retail day-pass purchaser, an iPass user can work at any T-Mobile location in that 24-hour period for no additional charge.
Also, unlike most venues as they appear in the iPassConnect 3 client software, which manages the account connection and policies (such as firewall and VPN enforcement), all T-Mobile HotSpot locations will be branded as such instead of by the venue's name alone.
In an interview yesterday, VP and general manager of T-Mobile HotSpot Joe Sims said that the network currently comprised 3,900 locations, and was expanding by 35 new hotspots per day heading towards their currently announced contractual commitment of 4,700 hotspots.
Ken Denman, iPass's CEO, said that the iPass network had about 1,550 U.S. Wi-Fi hotspots, and thousands more worldwide. This arrangement with T-Mobile brings iPass's total worldwide hotspot count accessible to its customers to about 10,000.
T-Mobile's Sims said that security was one of the key factors that led them to partner first with iPass as T-Mobile gets ready to roll out 802.1X authentication through its hotspot locations. The iPassConnect software has support for 802.1X integration.
This relationship continues to expand on the growing trend in the hotspot world to focus on business customers; this is the foundation of Cometa's approach, for instance. Sims said, "Our customers are enterprise users," but one might expect that the current pricing model ($6 per hour with a one-hour minimum or $10 per day) could explain that in part.
Denman said that in the future, other models were possible other than the $9.99 per day fee that iPass would charge based on what their corporate customers asked for to provide the most flexibility.
T-Mobile had announced in spring 2003 a partnership with Boingo to develop a software platform for their network which would allow use of both T-Mobile's 2.5G (GPRS) and Wi-Fi networks. Sims confirmed that that software was still in development, but that it was only for the consumer and "pro-sumer" market.
Sims said that T-Mobile would be announcing more partnerships in the coming weeks and months. "The question is not should it be done, but who was willing to make the investment necessary to provide a seamless experience," he said.
Both Denman and Sims spoke of the "tipping point" of this partnership, and I have to agree. While iPass's market is the enterprise chief information officer or head of IT, that's not a small piece of the pie. iPass's software already allows an IT department to hand off to a roaming user a single piece of software customized for their operation that requires activation of anti-virus software, firewall software, and a VPN (in any combination that the IT department requests from iPass). The same software allows a single login using the enterprise's own directory services to dial-up, wired, and Wi-Fi locations.
Adding T-Mobile to the mix of locations available will definitely make the iPass salespeople's job easier as they walk into an IT manager's office, and it's the perfect crowd that T-Mobile wants to bring into their premium venues at Starbucks, Borders, Kinko's, and airport lounges.
A corporate user with iPassConnect won't think twice about spending $10 on lunch and coffee because the $10 for their session is transparent to them -- and efficient for their employer who gets another hour or three of work from their employee.
The art students in New York successfully pulled off their Wi-Fi bike stunt, but apparently just barely: They've built access points into bikes and planned to send an email to the mayor from a subway platform. They used two bikes: one above the stairs which used a cell phone network for backhaul and a second below on the subway platform which delivered the signal to a nearby laptop. They apparently just got the network working in time to send an email before the laptop's battery died.
The Florida city had planned to launch a Wi-Fi network covering down town on New Year's Eve but decided to put off the project: The nonprofit group that had planned to build the network suddenly got concerned about not being able to financially support it.
Despite best efforts from industry standard groups, interoperability among Wi-Fi products is hit or miss these days: Not all products are certified by the Wi-Fi Alliance and some vendors are cutting corners. For example, they may not do a great job of implementing the mechanism that asks an 802.11g chip to fall back to 802.11b.
New security features and the plethora of chips available increase the complications in making all devices compatible.
I don't imagine the compatibility issue will get any better as we move into the future because more upgrades to the standard continue to be developed.
Since we wrote a blurb last week about one product that streams digital music to your stereo, we've gotten a couple of notes from readers or companies that like other solutions: Inupon is one company that makes a device that can stream audio to stereos.
Reuters offers more insight into Chinese WAPI standard, to which only 11 Chinese companies have access: The Chinese government started requiring new Wi-Fi equipment to fully support the WAPI standard Dec. 1, with a grace period for existing devices and contracts until June, even though the standard is entirely confidential and only 11 Chinese companies are permitted to incorporate it.
This is definitely a protectionist move to make sure that Chinese firms have a role in the growing Wi-Fi market. And, of course, the standard almost certainly has a backdoor of some kind to allow government monitoring of Wi-Fi traffic; otherwise, why go to these lengths to essentially ban or disallow WPA?
Cory Doctorow, true-life rights defender and novelist, exposes a chunk of his work-in-progress, while pointing to Larry Lessig, true-life true-intent-of-copyright defender, who rants: Cory's notes the anti-openness and generally confusing nature of using Wi-Fi in Switzerland, a country that revels in expense in general, in an excerpt from his newest work-in-progress, based on his experience in Switzerland.
He points to Lessig's post about ironically having the worst possible time connecting at the World Summit on the Information Society. In both cases, they're talking mostly about a single provider, Swiss Telecom, which doesn't appear to want "drop-in" users.
I was recently in Whistler, B.C., a ski resort community with a township around it, where there are now two competing ubiquitous Wi-Fi networks. Curse my luck, the condo unit my wife and I rented could barely receive the signal of both--not strong enough to be useful. But both services also required out-of-band connections: you had to go to some store or kiosk to purchase specific periods of time. So instead of Wi-Fi, I skied, and apres-ski, I went to Internet cafes, where I spent a total of about US$8 over three days for a couple of hours of access.
We're now cooking with T3s: Wi-Fi Networking News's virtual home moved from a 768 Kbps SDSL line, which had served it nicely, up to a co-location facility that has dual T3s and several 10s of Mbps available on demand. If anyone notices a significant difference in speed, performance, or other details (for better or worse), please let us know.
Because our site is designed to be mostly text-heavy, not graphics intensive, its more likely that during busy times, you'll get the site right away instead of waiting moments for a page load.
This balanced and thoughtful article takes a look at the Illinois lawsuit urging a public school district to shut down its WLANs: The article points out that it's tough to decide right now if Wi-Fi might cause adverse health affects given that research has been done with opposing results and because people haven't been exposed to cellular or Wi-Fi radiation long enough to make a definitive conclusion.
I happen to be working on a story about the Illinois lawsuit and just heard from the lawyer representing the parents who have filed suit against the school district and he said that the parties are in settlement discussions. He couldn't offer any details, of course. I'd like to speculate on what agreement the parties might make but it's hard to imagine. The school might bend and remove the network in an effort to avoid a costly lawsuit. Otherwise, I can't imagine a way that the school could offer the network and offer a way for students to avoid it while receiving the same education as their peers. We shall see.
It seems like the major business pubs are usually far behind when they run stories about technological innovation: But this Business Week story does a nice job of looking at the inefficient way that spectrum is used today. The story describes smart antennas, mesh networks, and software-defined radios as technologies that can make better use of existing spectrum in the future. I'm surprised, however, that the writer didn't mention ultrawideband technology because it's a technology that doesn't require just one specific frequency band.
While there's a general perception out there that WLAN switches aren't selling very well, Airespace says that's not so: It has sold 500 switches and 5,000 APs and it has a respectable client list that includes Fidelity, Oracle, and Pacific Stock Exchange.
This review takes a look at an adapter made by Creative that allows users to stream music from computers to a stereo: The reviewer's biggest complaints surround user interfaces. The remote is apparently clunky and doesn't offer certain features like the ability to make song lists or rewind or fast forward. Also, he says the PC software isn't very user friendly.
He also complains about the lag between the time when you choose a song and when it starts playing. I suspect that happens because it takes a few seconds for the box to query the computer and grab the song to start playing it. That ought to speed up in future versions of these products.
Wayport subscribers get full downloads of the electronic edition of The New York Times: This partnership with NewsStand provides Wayporters with the all-in-one edition, which is essentially the print version as an electronic document. Folks who subscribe to the electronic Times get a $25 Wayport prepaid card, which is probably three sessions.
Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 1:31 PM | Permanent Link | Categories:
The leading two proposals for ultrawideband within the IEEE 802.15.3a task group are still far apart: International spectrum issues might render the IEEE outcome problematic for use outside the US, while both camps of UWB standards could commercially develop their respective approaches irrespective of the IEEE's standard.
From the horse's mouth, an explanation for the delay: Palm users have been anxiously awaiting software drivers that will support SanDisk's SD Wi-Fi card. SanDisk released a pretty detailed explanation for the repeated delays.
It looks like some people think there are deeper problems at Palm causing delays in the Wi-Fi enablement of Palm devices. You may want to read some of this with a grain of salt seeing as the site is dedicated to Microsoft platforms, but MSMobiles, has done some digging around problems with the Palm platform.
This article is theoretically about combo Wi-Fi chips but really is filled with a bunch of misguided jargon: For instance, the writer comments that VCs have soured on putting money into Wi-Fi startups. I suppose it's all relative but I continue to see investors put money into Wi-Fi startups. In fact, some investors worry that too much money is flowing into the sector.
He also refers to the "growing multiplicity of wireless frequencies." Huh? The 5 GHz band just got an additional 255 MHz, but it's part of the overall U-NII band, which 802.11a and some proprietary and new standards use, including 802.16a.
William Arbaugh tells you how, on TechTV: He offers step-by-step instructions on how to do it yourself, but cautions that you won't save yourself any money doing it yourself. Saving money probably isn't why most people build their own anyway.
Tim Pozar has set up a network in San Francisco that delivers free Wi-Fi to neighborhoods: He beams the signals from the top of a hill down to houses, including his, that receive the signals and distribute them through the neighborhood. He's offering access for free to anyone who can reach it. His next stop is Marin County.
There are some good points here: A standalone voice-over-Wi-Fi phone is only marginally useful to consumers unless they just want to use it in their homes. Although this writer notes that VOIP offerings from the likes of Vonage enable cordless phone use, which pretty much defeats the purpose of the Wi-Fi phone. Outside of the home, the phone is only usable in hotspots, where are few and far between these days.
Just what the market needs, another chip maker: Cambridge Silicon Radio, traditionally a Bluetooth chip maker, said it will soon ship a combined 802.11a/b/g chip. The company is apparently trying to leave us in suspense by saying it will offer improvements in speed, size, "or" cost.
You know Wi-Fi has really hit the mainstream when art students use it in their performance art pieces: Students from New York's Parsons Design and Technology have built access points into bicycles and will use them to send emails from New York subways. The architects of this idea seem a bit torn between regarding it as performance art and pointing to its utility.
There's not a very detailed techincal explanation for how this works, but it appears that the APs use cell networks for backhaul or are used as repeaters to extend signals from other hotspots.
It's kind of a cool idea for delivering Wi-Fi connections on short notice or for a temporary reason. Or, wouldn't it just be cool to have so that you could be sure of having a connection--and be able to share it with pals--anywhere?
The latest security white paper from Robert Moskowitz explains clearly why hiding Wi-Fi network SSIDs is futile and counter-productive: Moskowitz, the fellow who wrote a month ago about how poor key choices with WPA allows cracking, provides more analysis on the Wi-Fi security front. His WPA paper is also available at that link.
This press release doesn't explain what exactly is going on here: But I spoke with folks at Tatara a couple months ago and the product sounds pretty good. On the face of it, Tatara looks like another provider of a single-sign on solution for hotspot operators. But it's the backend that's really cool.
Tatara is really designed for a big operator like a T-Mobile that has other networks. The platform ties into the operator's backend systems like billing and customer service. It also detects presence. Here's an example of why all that is good. Let's say a customer is online in a hotspot of a roaming partner of her hotspot operator. If she's having technical problems she can call customer care for her operator which will have access not only to which hotspot she's connected to but also specific information about her connection.
Because the system detects the data rate a user gets, the operator can also decide to offer a varied billing structure where customers pay depending on the data rate they're getting.
Also, an operator that may also have a cell phone network, for example, can integrate services across the networks. So a cell phone user will be able to get presence information about a friend logged onto a hotspot and send an instant message to the friend.
Des Moines International airport just introduced a Wi-Fi network for travelers and businesses at the airport: The airport and Opti-Fi Networks, which built the network, are working with nearby universities so that students who are registered to use campus networks can also use the airport network, presumably without charge.
The news may appear here, but then again, maybe not, seeing as it's a pretty stripped-down site.
National Semiconductor is touting a low power Wi-Fi chip in the works: The company says the chip, because of its low power requirements, could eat into Bluetooth's market. It makes more sense to me that the chips will instead be ideal for use in cell phones or other devices that need low-powered components. Several other chipmakers have announced a variety of low-powered 802.11b chip designs, most of them due early in 2004.
NASA has tested Wi-Fi gear from Tropos for potential use on the moon or planets: NASA used the Tropos gear in Arizona in a simulated area of an interplanetary exploration mission, connecting a base camp with a mobile computer. NASA wants to be able to connect various pieces of gear including laptops embedded in space suits, vehicles, cameras and microphones.
Om Malik reports on Atheros's upcoming IPO: It's not hot, it's superheated, with a sixfold oversubscription to the number of shares potentially available at the initial public offering. Before the recent surge in IPOs, Atheros would have been a takeover target; now it's valuing itself in the open market, which could dramatically raise its asking price for a company trying to get a wedge into manufacturing 802.11a and a/g chipsets.
This should also, by the way, be an interested test of the post-dotcom IPO market in which shares were distributed to favored parties who would turn them quickly, and those who bought in on day one were disappointed on day two through infinity. With new rules and watchdogs watching, I'll be curious to see if Atheros's price rises. A good IPO should see the stock priced correctly: its opening price shouldn't be too much higher than the IPO price, or the company left money on the table.
VodaFone launches 3G data service in Germany and Italy, but at what speed and cost?: This article describes how 3G services could challenge Wi-Fi, but fails to mention the speed or price offered by VodaFone.
France has far fewer hotspots than any of its European neighbors: In fact, it's on par with Slovenia in terms of number of hotspots.
It seems mostly the government is to blame. One conspiracy theory is that the government stands to benefit from the success of 3G networks so it wants to prevent Wi-Fi from becoming a competitor to those mobile networks. Government mandates, such as one that held until last November that prevented any Wi-Fi coverage outdoors for fear of interference with military operations, surely slowed down build out. Just last summer the government dropped to demand that municipalities get federal permission to hang APs.
Investors are worried about how much money is being funneled into Wi-Fi, but say there's still plenty of opportunity: About $2.5 billion has been invested in emerging wireless technologies but the sector has only produced $2 billion in revenue. Still, investors see opportunity in a long list of technologies including WiMAX, Zigbee, software defined radios and Wi-Fi/cellular roaming.
RoomLinx is building Wi-Fi networks in six hotels owned by Affinia: Five of the hotels will get Wi-Fi everywhere, including guest rooms. The hotels in Manhattan should all be complete early next year.
Few of the WLAN switch vendors initially had support for remote offices in the first versions of their products: It looks like they are addressing that market in upgrades and new releases. Last week, ReefEdge introduced its first WLAN switch product specifically geared toward organizations with 100 or more remote offices.
Yesterday, Airespace introduced an AP designed to be located in remote offices. The AP communicates with a switch at headquarters via the wide area network. The downside to this approach is that usually it means that absolutely everything including authentication and all traffic must travel back through the switch, which could be located far away.
New Airespace software provides location tracking for improved security. With the tool, IT managers can better find rogue APs and locate the source of attacks.
A Cisco exec says that once Wi-Fi is available in more places, usage will take off: With so many laptops being sold with built-in Wi-Fi, users will have to feel like they can open their laptops anywhere and get online. Once that happens, he expects a major change in the way people think about work because we'll be able to work anywhere. I'm not sure that's a good thing…
Telesym's CEO argues that enterprises that employ voice over Wi-Fi can save by cutting back on cellular calls made on campus: His numbers look great in this story, however, he's missing some major expenses. Most observers agree that the voice over Wi-Fi system is going to require a lot of support by IT folks. Also, the network has to cover just about everywhere. Since current Wi-Fi networks don't, an enterprise would have to invest in building out the network. And finally, right now the technology isn't there yet--there aren't yet good mechanisms for quality of service and fast handoffs.
Weber State University students may have set a record for the longest unamplified Wi-Fi link: They reached 72 miles, across the Great Salt Lake. Some other experiments have reached farther, but with amplifiers, they say.
Beacon Wi-Fi has built hotspots at 10 more marinas, mostly in Florida: The company now operates networks in 50 marinas. I imagine the networks are warmly received, especially by live aboards.
This site offers a review of two cAntennas, or antennas made from cans: The antennas come from EtherDesigns and got pretty high reviews here. Plus, they're cheap!
RIM, the maker of the Blackberry, is working on a version that will enable Wi-Fi and cellular access: The company won't say when the devices will be available but said it won't be before the spring.
I was just talking to a friend yesterday who just bought a Blackberry that runs on T-Mobile's network. He was complaining about how slow the connection speed is. I bet he'd love the chance to use Wi-Fi when it's available.
Wi-Fi hotspots aren't about Interent access any more: Starbucks says that competition from free hotspots means it must offer unique services that will make customers want to use its hotspot. For now, those services are free even to non-subscribers but seem to be designed to encourage people to subscribe--or at least stick around for another coffee. The offerings have included an audio interview with Cheryl Crow and a video about blues musicians. Starbucks says it has a lot of "supersecret" plans for offerings over the network in the future.
This trend is very true. Hotspot operators who charge are going to have to offer something unique beside Internet access if they want to attract customers. Higher bandwidth than business-DSL or T-1 may have to be part of it.
NetGear and Bluesocket are both building Propogate's AutoCell technology into their gear: Propogate's software adds some RF management capabilities to APs and, in Bluesocket's case, to gateways so that APs don't interfere with each other and thus offer better performance. Some say that with Propogate's software and products like Bluesocket's gateway, enterprises won't need to invest in WLAN switch gear. Some also say that Propogate's software may allow some companies to get out of the proprietary AP business.
The WLAN switch vendors are seeing a lot of pressure from products like Propogate's that may be built into low-cost APs. If all the functionality is built into APs, the need for the switches is reduced.
SmartWorlds software lets PDA users shop and learn more about books while they're in a bookstore: The service is already in use in Boston at Trident Booksellers on Newbury Street, with access provided by Michael Oh's NewburyOpen.net Wi-Fi network.
SmartWorlds is now offering the software free to anyone. Users can punch in the ISBN number of a book while they're standing in a bookstore. Users are connected to Amazon.com's site where they can read reviews of the book, check pricing, and see other books recommended by readers. In Boston, Trident is considered an affiliate of Amazon so if users of this service later buy one of the books they browsed for on Amazon, Trident earns a commission.
I'd love to see people use this in the big chain bookshops which probably wouldn't want people to use it for fear of losing business.
I wrote a story for the Seattle Times about a planned wireless network at the Experience Music Project: The rock museum, built by Paul Allen, plans to offer the network to visitors but also use it for a variety of internal functions. One plan is to use the network to stream audio and video to handheld devices that visitors can carry around through the exhibits.
I'm not sure I did a very good job of conveying how interesting this project is. For those of you who aren't familiar with the EMP or haven't seen pictures, it's a Frank Gehry building that looks like a bunch of colorful lumps glued together. I would imagine that building a wireless network there would be a nightmare, given the structure doesn't have a single right angle. I'll be interested to check back with the folks at EMP in a couple of months when more of the network should be in place to hear about the experience. Then I'd like to check in again next summer to see how many of the ambitious applications are actually in place.
Proxim introduced today upgrades to its enterprise-grade Orinoco AP-2000 access point: Most of the new features are geared toward making it easier for network administrators to manage their wireless networks.
Because the AP includes two slots for multiple radios, customers can now dedicate one radio for repeating traffic. For example, one slot can be used for an 802.11b radio that may serve customers on one end of a hotel floor. The second slot can contain an 802.11g radio, which offers a wired Ethernet link across the floor to another AP at the other end. "It's like a wired Ethernet link across the building, but you don't have to do an Ethernet drop," said Ben Gibson, director of marketing for Proxim.
Because the repeating function uses a second radio, the traffic doesn't impact the bandwidth available to end users. Gibson expects the capability to appeal to managers of wharehouses or other large, open spaces where stringing Ethernet wires may prove difficult. "Essentially you're extending the cells to make a hot zone, rather than a hot spot," he said.
Intel hopes to have its 802.11a/b/g product shipping early next year. This writer wonders why anyone would want the throughput offered by 802.11g. People want to do exactly what Intel hopes they'll do once 802.11g chips are embedded inside TVs and stereos--stream audio and video.
Leaders from Intel and Cisco are trying to start up an effort to standardize 802.11 mesh networking : This is a great idea, but one that not surprisingly isn't supported by current developers of mesh networks. Those companies, including Strix, Firetide, and BelAir argue such an effort would be too difficult. They might prefer not to have standards so that customers must buy entire networks from one vendor.
Intel apparently is working on a mesh standard that could span 802.11 and ultrawideband networks. That sounds like quite a challenge.
Speakers at Wi-Fi Planet alternately bashed and then praised Wi-Fi security: That's to be expected as the bashers are folks like Intel who don't have a stake in the security game and the defenders are vendors like Cisco that do.
Security is getting better but it's not yet simple or good enough yet to spur a massive uptake in the enterprise market.
SyChip is coming out with software that will support its WLAN card in smart phones: The capability will let smart phone users access data services over the WLAN and make voice calls using voice over the WLAN. Initially, customers will have to download drivers to the smart phones but analysts say that eventually the capability should be built into the phone. Analysts are also concerned about the battery life on smart phones that are using WLANs.
Roaming is a key requirement for Wi-Fi to take off but this writer is clueless: She seems to think that Intel's Centrino marketing program has something to do with roaming when really it's just an advertising push. The focus of this story is on technical challenges to roaming but she's missing the main issue. The technical challenges are small compared to the need for service providers to make agreements with each other so that a subscription to one service lets users access virtually any available hot spot. With those deals in place, more customers are likely to sign up for susbscriptions.
She also includes some shameless promotion of a company that does business with her publisher. She cites Zinio as a "chief" player in marketing value-added Wi-Fi services. It looks to me like Zinio reformats magazines so that they look nice on handheld devices. What on earth does that have to do with roaming?? What a poor example of journalism.
The Wireless Networking Starter Kit, 2nd Edition, is now available as a downloadable electronic book (in PDF): We've launched our new Web site for the second edition of our book (co-written by Adam Engst and myself), and we now also have available an electronic edition, which can be purchased and downloaded worldwide from our Web site.
The second edition covers all the issues associated with buying, configuring, and running Wi-Fi networks at home and in small offices, thoroughly revised for 802.11g and WPA, with new chapters on cellular data, Bluetooth, wireless ISP software, and many other wireless topics.
The 802.11 standards groups have full plates and they will struggle to ensure that all their efforts interoperate: The development of 802.11e, the quality of service mechanism, seems to be the trickiest and will require repeated upgrades.
Problems are already surfacing. Vendors are adding their own bells and whistles, like higher speed offerings, as a way to differentiate or to speed up the upgrade process. Those extras create interoperability problems.
Even without the extras, vendors struggle to comply with the standards. Frank Hanzlik, the managing director of the Wi-Fi Alliance, told me recently that about one quarter of all 802.11b products--the most mature of the standards--submitted for approval fail certification initially. Products going through certification of the newer standard fail at an even higher rate.
Who wants free Wi-Fi for just one day--BT Openzone is offering a free week of Wi-Fi.: Apparently the move is aimed at increasing exposure of its hot spot offering.
BT is also planning to launch a pay-as-you-go plan to also encourage more users.
DoCoMo is planning to roll out a dual-mode 3G and voice over WLAN service in the spring: Apparently DoCoMo is working on some tricks to try to extend battery life as 802.11 tends to eat up power.
DoCoMo is always on the cutting edge of wireless technology. The company has also asked its handset makers to come out with models based on Linux.
A tool built by MapInfo with hot spot data from Jupitermedia maps where hot spots are across the country: The tool is not meant to be used by customers but by hot spot providers who can use it to look at market penetration.
The majority of libraries in England already have broadband access but now the government is working on adding Wi-Fi: Most of the libraries in King County, outside of Seattle, have Wi-Fi. It's a great, low-cost way for libraries to offer Internet access without having to provide computers for everyone. My library always has a line of people waiting to get on its computers so perhaps with Wi-Fi some people could come in with their own computers to use the Internet. But I wonder how many of the people I see waiting in line there actually have laptops that they could bring with them instead.
Cisco access points can send WEP keys in the clear, but not by default: A security flaw means that if an administrator enables a very specific SNMP monitoring option, an access point can send WEP keys across unencrypted links. However, because this must be enabled, and because it doesn't affect dynamic WEP, it's not a big deal.
Truckers find hotspots invaluable as aid to life on the road: Truckers are using Wi-Fi hotspots as extensions of their truck cab as the service rapidly pops up at truck stops across the U.S. It's a natural offering for the truck stops, which already provided Internet access and data ports. For truckers who live out of their cabs, it's just another amenity that lets them stay in touch with family and friends, relax, and keep on top of their work.
Cafe.com snags Denny's Restaurants: The NetNearU reseller will immediately deploy hotspots at 40 restaurants; Denny's has 1,700 locations across the U.S. See, now, I can see the motivation for Denny's: they have booths, they're open 24 hours a day, they're near freeways, and business travelers already use them in the a.m., late at night, and for dinner on the road. Flipping open a laptop while waiting for your meal is a logical extension.
A Cisco executive said that complexity, insecurity, and other problems with Wi-Fi are past: With current products, companies can roll out Wi-Fi and bask in their increasing effectiveness and efficiency. Workers with Wi-Fi spent 1.75 hours more per day in 2001 (than before 2001, I gather) connected to company networks, while that number grew to 3.5 in 2003.
I hear these anecdotes and studies often, especially in companies like Starbucks or McDonald's which are having Wi-Fi deployed for them for public purposes, but are reaping the benefits of having their dispersed managerial and repair workforce online without returning to a main office.
This article covers a speech given at this week's Wi-Fi Planet conference in Santa Clara, and the writer sounds frustrated: Proof that running a Wi-Fi network isn't all that straightforward was given at the Wi-Fi Planet Conference & Expo itself, where the WLAN was intermittently available.
Actually, the problem is that there's no simple way to have 200 separate Wi-Fi networks running in a small place and coordinate frequencies. Given that many vendors are demonstrating products that generate Wi-Fi networks, as opposed to just use Wi-Fi networks, this is to expected.
(In the future, if 802.11a/g devices proliferate, I'd expect a trade show to demand some clear 802.11a channels and knock vendors off the air who use those channels for anything but show business and Internet access.)
Network Chemistry officially introduced its intrusion detection solution this week: The company already has 40 paying customers.
Like AirMagnet, Network Chemistry requires customers to distribute wireless sensors that detect external attacks and internal policy violations as well as rogue APs.
The launch includes some new features on the product, including detection of 802.11a, b, and g APs. Also, the sensors are can now be powered over Ethernet.
Ohlone College in Fremont Calif. is building a WLAN using gear from switch maker Trapeze: The network should cover the campus by the middle of next year. Ohlone wanted a network that could support 802.1X including AES, and the Trapeze system could support that level of security.
(Glenn's mom used to take classes at Ohlone, which had--maybe still has--a beautifully but spread-out campus that's just ideal for Wi-Fi connectivity: lots of high points and many buildings.)
Legra Systems raised $12 million in its series B round of funding: All told, Legra has attracted $20.5 million in investments.
BelAir Networks also raised $15 million in a series B round, bringing its total investment to $22 million.
Wi-Fi Planet announcement round-up: Check out brief coverage of announcements being made at Wi-Fi Planet by a number of companies.
STSN and BT Openzone have teamed up to chase hotel business: They'll offer hotels a single source for Wi-Fi service that includes marketing, billing and customer support. BT's network will support the service and STSN will drive sales and manage the accounts.
I'm curious if the writer of this article didn't quite understand the technology: According to this piece, Calypso is marketing a platform that will route calls from a Calypso cell phone over Wi-Fi to a cell phone network. I'm guessing that in reality, Calypso is marketing a platform that offers voice over Wi-Fi when in range of a Wi-Fi network as well as voice over regular cellular networks. Calypso's Web site doesn't go into much detail about how its technology works.
China Telecom has spent $500 million on Calypso's platform, which is described here as delivering voice over Wi-Fi and cellular.
Columbitech, developer of a VPN solution designed for wireless networks, is making it easier for customers to integrate security with third party applications: With the SDK, a developer can manage the Columbitech client so that users just sign in once to use an application that may, for example, remotely tap into a corporate database.
I talked to the folks from Columbitech a couple months ago and they were really focused on vertical markets like retail where customers have a variety of custom applications. Columbitech is working hard to provide a flexible security solution that can fit into legacy gear.
Yesterday Columbitech's CEO Pontus Bergdahl quit and was replaced by a co-founder and CTO, Lars Resenius.
Researchers at ABI say that functions such as supply chain management, enterprise resource planning, and customer relationship management were designed for the enterprise but make sense in the home: Now that more homes have broadband access and networks, those functions can be useful to people in their homes. The report discusses connecting security, entertainment, HVAC, lighting, and appliances. By 2008, ABI expects the home automation market to grow to $3.8 billion.
It's a bit of a stretch to talk about CRM and supply chain management in the home, but it makes a clever analogy. Some home automation functions should prove useful, while others will likely be fun but useless.
iPass adds Swisscom, ADP, NetNearU hotspots: In today's announcement, iPass sweeps in a few thousand more hotspot locations, adding important overseas venues. Previously, iPass's non-North American locations were primarily dial-up with some wired Ethernet. iPass claims 2,800 hotspot locations across 20 networks today in its aggregated rollup, but today's addition means that they'll break the 4,000 mark once the new locations are incorporated.
In a development that appears from left field, the Chinese government has banned equipment that doesn't conform to WAPI: Never heard of WAPI (Wired Authentication and Privacy Infrastructure)? You're not alone. Neither the IEEE nor the Wi-Fi Alliance has information about it, either, except that it doesn't include Advanced Encryption System (AES) support.
The Chinese government's standards agency developed WAPI, and equipment cannot be imported or manufactured for domestic use in China after Dec. 1 without WAPI in it. Perhaps WAPI has a backdoor for government or is the brainchild of a domestic firm? Unknown yet.
Intel and others expect to skirt the requirement until at least June, because devices manufactured in the country or imported before Dec. 1 or are part of contracts for delivery that don't support WAPI are still acceptable to sell and use.
Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 3:09 PM | Permanent Link | Categories:
Fairmont Hotels is touting the reach of its wireless networks. In some of its hotels, the networks cover areas such as the pool and other outdoor areas. The hotel is using that extra coverage as a way to attract businesses that might want to hold meetings at the hotel. Guests can sign up for a service that offers both wired access, presumably in their rooms, and wireless access where it's available.
Most hotels that offer Wi-Fi extend the networks into public gathering spots like lobbies so I suppose this isn't that interesting. But I do think it's interesting that the Fairmont is using its Wi-Fi coverage as a way to attract meeting business. When I think of all the smaller conferences I've been to at really nice resorts, I never want to head back to my room to check email after being cooped up all day. It'd be great to instead sit outside on a deck and grab a beer and check email.
The release isn't posted yet but you should be able to find it here at some point.
Xeni Jardin wardrives on NPR's Day to Day: Xeni takes a trip with two SOCALWUG members (Frank Keeney and Mike Outmesguine) in this segment. The audio element of wardriving is great because they have voice synthesis on that's beeping and speaking wireless access point detected over and over again.
Frank or Mike said: If we see passwords...it's because people have set up their networks without any form of encryption.
SeattleWireless TV has its latest program online: Peter Yorke visits some businesses using WiFi, Drew from WiFiMaps.com explains how to wardrive responsibly, and New Zealand Wireless gives a peek at their event next month.
Intel is working with city leaders in Houston County, Georgia to discuss building what could be the first WiMax network in the country: Intel has a close relationship with Houston County High School because it has given the school a $30,000 wireless technology lab. The idea for the WiMax network hatched from that relationship.
The plan is very much on the drawing board though, with no one yet volunteering to fund the network, which should cost around $2 million to build, including towers.
Aiirnet Wireless is building a Wi-Fi cloud over Cerritos, Calif., a town near Los Angeles: The city will account for about 60 subscriptions used by building inspectors and enforcement officers. It appears that Aiirnet specializes in building networks for municipalities. In Cerritos, a portion of the city has no broadband options, and the city wanted to offer connectivity to city workers and residents.
WinQ, a European WISP, has been working on a city-wide Wi-Fi zone in Kenniswijk Eindhoven in the Netherlands since July. The network uses Proxim APs and the Nomadix Universal Subscriber Gateway which enables customer acquisition and service provisioning.
The city center, cafes, hotels and the railway station are already connected. The city council uses the network to broadcast live city council meetings over the Web. The city and WinQ are looking at the project as an experiment to see how people will use the network.
It's a great idea to use a wireless network to allow people to be more involved in city government. These large Wi-Fi networks will be used more with useful applications like the city council broadcasts.
The announcement isn't online yet but should be up here eventually.
A study from ABI Research urges service providers that plan to use WiMAX not to ignore small and medium size businesses: While the firm concludes that by 2008, 42 percent of subscribers will be residential, another 16 percent will be small or medium businesses. Those businesses tend to churn less than consumers and will likely spend more on their connections so operators would be wise to target them.
ABI expects that combined revenues for 802.16 and 802.20 should pass $1.5 billion by 2008.
Motia's signal processing chip can optimize signal strength without losing standards compliance: This signal-processing chip analyzes each packet as it passes out of an 802.11b/g compliant chipset and optimizes the signal characteristics before it's broadcast. As a result, it can throw normal 802.11b/g two to four times further in a variety of short-range and long-range scenarios.
Because this is a single component, an existing Wi-Fi manufacturer could combine the chip with silicon from other companies to achieve the benefit instead of switching over to an entirely new chipset.
2Wire's new products aim to extend Wi-Fi deeper in the home. The combined DSL/Wi-Fi modem uses 400 milliwatts of power, far more than most Wi-Fi access points, and uses three antennas. These upgrades, 2Wire claims, extend coverage in a wider footprint. SBC and BellSouth both sell modems from 2Wire.
2Wire calls the radio 802.11b and the release doesn't mention that customers can only use a compatible 2Wire card, so it sounds like this complies with standards.
The release should be available here at some point.
David Letterman-style, Glynn Taylor of HotSpotVPN.com released his top ten list of reasons to secure your network traffic this holiday season:
10. Your Dad won’t know what web sites you've visited.
9. You will never have to change your email settings again.
8. Your traffic is encrypted at every hotspot; free, paid or stumbled upon.
7. You can improve on WEP without buying new hardware.
6. You can keep the neighbor’s script kiddy brats out of your Internet traffic.
5. You can say you took one more step to prevent identity theft.
4. You can easily encrypt your traffic when attached to someone else’s network.
3. You can safely plug in at a hotel without other guests reading your email.
2. You can prevent "wiretaps" on your VOIP calls.
1. Your Mom won't know what web sites you’ve visited.
Vipin Jain speaks out about .1X and basic security issues on wireless networks: Straight from the horse's mouth, we hear about the utility of 802.1X, which will almost certainly become the authentication method of choice at hot spots before 2005 for all the reasons he cites. I expect to see more and more 802.1X-for-hire that could serve home users and small enterprise users alike.
One funny statement by Jain: 802.1x has been adopted in operating systems such as Linux. There are commercial Linux 802.1X clients (from Meetinghouse, etc.), but the open-source project is still a work in progress.
Boingo Wireless strikes deal with Concourse to add a handful of airports to Boingo's network: Now Boingo customers can use Wi-Fi in LaGuardia, JFK, and Newark, and soon Detroit-Wayne county and Minneapolis/St. Paul. Boingo previously had access to these networks via its partnership with Wayport, but Wayport's relationship with Concourse has been severed in several airports.
In other related news, Sprint said that its PCS customers can access Concourse's networks in those same airports. Sprint also has deals with Airpath, Cometa, Wayport, and Truckstop.net, and has built a Wi-Fi network in the Kansas City International Airport.
Now if only Sprint and Boingo would get together...
Network Computing reviews eight SSL-based VPNs: SSL VPNs are an enormous trend, as they rely on client-side applications using standard protocols instead of kernel-level networking. As the article points out, a classic VPN puts a remote user on a local network as a local node; an SSL VPN typically extends access to specific services.
Unfortunately, Network Computing finds that only one out of its eight products can be set up and configured in a way that they find useful and secure for setup and data transmission.
Because wireless roaming users need VPNs to secure their connection, this article should be required reading for any IT department on the decision path for installing a VPN service.
FireTide starts talking about its pilot rollout of a mesh wired replacement, its shipping date, and the cost: In a briefing yesterday, FireTide said that it had successfully rolled out over a dozen pilot locations using its HotPoint mesh routing system, including an airport, a museum, and a park.
FireTide's 802.11b system, which costs $799 (suggested retail price) per node, uses mesh networking algorithms to automatically create an optimum route wirelessly between nodes without customer intervention. Each node has two Ethernet ports, which can support wireless access points from any vendor, or any other Ethernet-enabled equipment.
The company is based in Los Gatos, Calif., and Honolulu, and has worked with firms close to home. The Hotel Los Gatos already had Wi-Fi in its rooms, but not in public areas or meeting rooms. Company vice president Barbara Cardillo said that they were able to have the hotel's public areas up and running in an afternoon with six HotPoints.
The Los Gatos Opera House wanted to extend itself to businesses for meetings, but they lacked interior connectivity. A few HotPoints later, linked to a business DSL in an office in the building, and the Opera House is now open for commerce.
At the Kahalui Airport, where the FAA and USDA perform extensive testing to avoid planes carrying invasive species in and out of Hawaii, Cardillo said the airport faced a particular set of issues: lots of low buildings separated by tarmacs with no connectivity among them. The airport said it would cost $150,000 to connect the buildings with wire, and would shut down various runways during construction. An integrator came in and installed 11 HotPoints for about $20,000 to fully enable the airport's baggage claim, baggage handling, and offices; hardware cost about 25 percent of the total.
FireTide is also working with a company that brings PET scans--a next-generation version of the MRI--in semi-trucks to hospitals around the country. The company found that getting data from the scanner into the hospital required annoying efforts each time because the same parking space wasn't always available, and the only option they'd pursued was stringing Ethernet cable. Now, with a few HotPoints, the semi is linked right into the hospital network. Because HotPoint is just an Ethernet replacement, the hospital and firm can overlay whatever security they need on the link layer.
FireTide also announced its partnership and reseller program. The company will not sell direct, but work through channels, including small resellers and major integrators and co-marketing partnerships.
FireTide's mesh product is differentiated from its competitors in a few ways: it's a single 802.11b radio mesh product that doesn't offer built-in link layer security and has no access point option. On the other hand, it's a single module with no options that has a decently low price point.
Tropos offers a single-box mesh/AP with one or two radios, although two would be optimum. Tropos creates a cloud of service with densely placed radios or islands of service with more distantly connected units. Backhaul is provided through a separate type of box that connects into the mesh at one or more points. Belair follows a similar approach.
Strix offers an enterprise-scale backhaul system with a number of different options for Bluetooth, 802.11a, 802.11b, and 802.11g modules connecting to network consoles. It can offer encryption over wireless mesh nodes, and can also serve up client services through access point options.
iPass to offer intra-LAN management for companies: iPass's iPassConnect client currently allows a firm to provide company-wide access to remote dial-up, wired, and wireless networks using the firm's own directory. The new iPass Wireless LAN Roaming service will let that company's IT department configure the client to connect to the local wireless LAN, too.
In its first release, the software allows firm-wide support for a network name (SSID) and WEP key; this version is expected next quarter. WEP keys can be changed remotely by an IT manager. A later release will handle WPA and directly allow 802.1X authentication of users to iPass's system, which allows dynamic WEP or WPA keys to be assigned.
In a briefing, iPass said that this extension to their service is in direct response to customer requests that would allow a single package with a single graphical interface and login to manage the entire wireless experience. iPass will offer this service as with its current offerings, direct to large firms and through resellers to other companies.
Chipmaker Atheros files paperwork to have a public stock offering: News.com's Richard Shim reports that Atheros filed papers Nov. 26 to raise about $100 million in an initial public offering. The company had nearly $50 million in revenue in the first nine months of 2003 compared to $16.5 million in the same period last year, while that period's losses this year were about $12 million versus $16 million last year.
Before Comdex, competitor Broadcom launched a broadside against Atheros's chipsets with the Super G Turbo mode turned on for 108 Mbps speeds. While Broadcom says the complaint isn't directly connected to Atheros, but rather with out-of-standards hardware in general, Atheros is in the target because of it was well-known the company was ready to launch its IPO.
ReefEdge is moving out of its niche space into the broader WLAN networking world: Nancy Gohring's report on ReefEdge's new WLAN switches for InfoWorld reveals a company that's changed its focus from policy-based WLAN management of homogeneous devices to a range of devices that allow RF management of APs from several vendors, and small-office networking.
This is a pretty classic company development: customers certainly told them about the gaps in the line-up from all vendors, and ReefEdge moved to fill them. I hear from small offices all the time looking for devices that have enterprise-scale features but without the enterprise-scale price tag because their per-user cost would be 10 or 20 times the enterprise's due to a lack of economy of scale.
GNER launches Wi-Fi on trains, free in first class: Three British east coast lines now have Wi-Fi-based Internet service within the trains with satellite uplinks. Oddly, the article says that GNER has already run successful trials, but then notes that if this trial is successful (?), GNER will add service to 10 diesel and 30 electric trains. The article says pricing for passengers and availability in non-first-class cars hasn't yet been set.
The second edition of my book, The Wireless Networking Starter Kit, is out!: My co-author Adam Engst and I spent three months on this revision, which was originally planned to be a small update to the original 360-page book, but blossomed into 560 pages for the same price: $30 (or about $21 through Amazon.com).
The second edition's Web site will launch soon, but the book is shipping now, and features a revised table of contents which offers nearly three dozen chapters and three appendixes, up from 10 chapters in the first edition.
We now offer a separate chapter for configuring with Windows XP, Centrino, and Mac OS, and cover using cellular data, Bluetooth, and setting up a software base station. The first book was focused on Wi-Fi; the second edition keeps 802.11a, b, and g at its core, but we spread out to all the wireless topics, such as WiMax, 802.15.3a, ultrawideband, Bluetooth, and others. We even have a chapter on configuring Wireless ISP software, such as that from Boingo, Sprint PCS, and iPass.
The goal of this edition was to provide even more nitty-gritty information about getting from about 20 miles per hour up to 70 on the open highway. We'll have excerpts and a downloadable table of contents and index soon. (Note that Amazon.com has the old cover and the wrong page count; that'll be updated soon.)