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.
Flarion, the developer of FLASH-OFDM mobile broadband wireless technology, said NetGear will make combined 802.11/FLASH-OFDM products: Flarion first demonstrated a seamless handoff between its networks and 802.11 a couple of years ago. Now, Flarion says that the first products from NetGear will be available for testing this quarter.
This is an interesting development that only affects a small number of mobile users. Flarion's networks are being used by Nextel around Raleigh-Durham and T-Mobile, Vodafone, the city of Washington, D.C., and others are trialing Flarion networks. Although Flarion's reach may be small relative to the major cellular vendors, it proves itself forward-thinking by this development.
Wired News reports on WanderPort, a company developing a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot solution: The end product will be a small trailer with a diesel generator, an antenna, an AP, and satellite dish for backhaul. Users would be anyone who needs remote and probably temporary connectivity, such as disaster relief organizations.
Another temporary hotspot solution designed for less remote applications is available from Junxion. The Junxion box allows users to insert a PCMCIA card that enables backhaul over the cellular networks. Wi-Fi distributes that bandwidth to nearby users.
A new device from ZyXel is a multifunction tool: It integrates ADSL, a 4-port Ethernet switch, 802.11g Wi-Fi, and two telephone ports for voice over IP. It uses Session Initiation Protocol for voice support and is aimed at small and medium sized businesses.
Symbol said it will introduce APs that support 802.11a, 802.11b, and 802.11g simultaneously: The APs work in conjunction with Symbol's switch and will initially be limited to supporting Symbol's branch office switch. In other multiband news, Atheros introduced a single chip solution that combines 802.11a, 802.11b, and 802.11g. The combined chip may encourage more use of 802.11a and result in better service for end users as devices can connect to the best available signal.
A number of vendors have made announcements over the past few days about product upgrades that enhance management and quality of service capabilities. Colubris introduced software that complies with 802.11e, the quality of service standard, as well as WMM, or Wi-Fi MultiMedia. WMM is a certification standard created by the Wi-Fi Alliance that is based on 802.11e and supports quality of service mechanisms. It enables the deployment of voice and video applications.
In other recent news, Propagate said that Netgear's ProSafe Wireless WG302 AP will include AutoCell. The Propagate software automatically tunes signal strength and makes channel selections to avoid interference. The software also includes a privacy mode that makes Wi-Fi networks invisible to unauthorized users.
For larger enterprises, AirWave's Management Platform is now a preferred software solution for managing HP's ProCurve APs. The software automatically and remotely discovers, monitors, and configures devices. The platform is targeted at customers who use APs from multiple vendors.
Cingular sold its Mobitex network to Cerberus Capital Management: Mobitex is one of the earliest data networks and was the first to support RIM's Blackberry devices. The network was initially used by very niche groups of people who were frequently in the field. But once the Blackberry grew in popularity, the network began to be used heavily by traveling business people. Now, Cingular reports that 25 percent of Blackberry users worldwide use the Mobitex network, which has been referred to as Cingular Interactive. Today, Blackberries also operate over the cellular networks and many also offer voice services. The number of Blackberry users on the Mobitex network may decrease in the future if an increasing number of customers want voice services or higher speed access on their Blackberries.
Proxim lost a legal battle with Symbol and the result may be that Wi-Fi vendors will be required to pay license royalties to Symbol: Proxim had to pony up $23 million in damages and must pay two percent royalties, though every other vendor is on the hook for six percent. The question will be whether Symbol decides to chase down everyone else. Symbol claims that some vendors are already paying the royalties but it wouldn't name which.
As Peter Judge points out in an email to Wi-Fi Networking News, it will be interesting to watch if Symbol approaches Cisco and how that interaction plays out. Cisco, with its deep pockets, could afford to fight a legal battle that argues against the recent ruling in Symbol's favor. Proxim basically said it gave in because it would have had to post a bond for a large part of the $26 million if it continued the fight and the company didn't want that hanging over its head.
In just about any situation, licensing can be sticky. On one hand, companies should benefit if everyone else uses technology that they develop. But one of the reasons that Wi-Fi has taken off so quickly and so widely is because the cost of products dropped so dramatically. If vendors had to pay licenses on many different components of a product, the price would have to rise which at some point slows down growth. We'll just have to wait and see if Symbol does chase everyone down and if so, what affect the six percent will have on vendors.
EWeek offers a brief roundup of some of the highlights from DemoMobile: Announcements included one from Skype that its voice over IP software is available for the Pocket PC so that Skype users can call each other over Wi-Fi networks on their handheld devices. In other news, a company called DropZone introduced a solar powered wireless LAN platform.
Ricochet folks are on their toes and were quick to offer me an update on the service, based on my post yesterday lamenting the lack of a Ricochet-like service: YDI Wireless recently purchased the old Ricochet Networks and two cities, San Diego and Denver, currently offer service. The company is also negotiating with the original 21 Ricochet cities in hopes of possibly reactivating them. I selfishly hope that Seattle is high on their list.
According to a recent Denver Business Journal article (which unfortunately doesn't seem to be available online), YDI will be the fourth Ricochet owner in the last three years. At some point during the bankruptcy process, the original antennas reverted back to the cities, which allowed Ricochet to hang its gear on light poles.
It will remain to be seen if the new owners can make a business where the original Ricochet couldn't. The equipment to build the network and the client devices have to be low cost and enough people have to sign up to make the business work.
YDI also recently bought Terabeam, the company that was lead by AT&T Wireless alum Dan Hesse. Terabeam makes wireless communications gear using free space optics.
Nextel is opening up its trial broadband wireless network in North Carolina to paying customers: The network uses proprietary hardware from Flarion. Initial trialers came from Cisco, Nortel, and IBM and they offered their comments on the service.
Nextel is also expanding the network to cover a broader range and offering a special $50 price for PC cards and modems. The monthly pricing options are pretty good too. For $50 a month, users get unlimited 750 Kbps down and 250 Kbps up. That's comparable to DSL or cable modem service but also includes the benefit of mobility. Higher speeds are available for higher prices.
If Nextel decides to roll this out in other markets, the operator would again be carving itself a unique spot in the market. The other cellular operators seem to be focusing their data services on cell phones, not laptop users. Those services are also more expensive than Nextel's offering. Plus, Nextel is positioning its service as a replacement for DSL or cable while the other cellular operators are touting their data offerings mainly as mobile services.
But once again Nextel would be using a proprietary technology which means the network will be more expensive for Nextel to build than the standard gear used by the other cellular operators and Nextel would have to build an extensive network because users can't roam.
As Nextel moves forward with the North Carolina offering and beings advertising, it'll be interesting to watch how the service is positioned. I think it's notable that one of the quotes from a trialer in the news release says that he stops in at cafes to open his laptop and use the Nextel service. That sounds like a direct shot at Wi-Fi offerings in cafes.
Calypso Wireless said it has received a patent on technology that allows roaming between cellular networks and Wi-Fi or Bluetooth without dropping the connection: The company's CEO flat out says in this story that he's trying to pursue the Qualcomm model. Qualcomm developed CDMA to compete with GSM but requires users to pay royalties for the technology.
It will be interesting to see exactly what Calypso got a patent for and if ultimately anyone doing any kind of cell/Wi-Fi handoff will have to pay Calypso. There are already a handful of other companies working on such roaming.
Companies filing for patents to capitalize on the growth of the Wi-Fi standard may become a trend. This Calypso news comes after Nomadix recently received a patent on redirect, which allows hotspot operators to display a sign in page when customers first open their browsers using the network. While Nomadix said it planned to enforce the patent, no vendor or operator we talked to said it had been approached by Nomadix.
In other Nomadix news, The Cloud said it will use Nomadix' gateways to offer venues the opportunity to build hotspots and become part of The Cloud network. As part of the offering, The Cloud will manage the hotspot and share revenues with the venue. A press release about the deal doesn't seem to be available online yet but should appear here eventually.
The Georgia Institute of Technologies is working on developing an array of devices, many of them using wireless technologies, to help disabled people: One system uses GPS, a mobile PC, and headphones to help blind people get around. The user programs a destination into the computer then the computer generates sounds that the user perceives to come from a certain direction. The sounds lead the user to the destination.
Another project will make switching on lights or changing channels on the TV easier for people with limited motor control. Users can make certain gestures in front of a panel that beams infrared light at a video camera. When the user breaks the light with a gesture, the movement is translated by a computer which comands a household appliance over a wireless network.
The researchers are able to work on these projects due to a $5 million, five year federal grant form the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, which was awarded two years ago.
This eWeek article makes some interesting observations about scanning technologies, but I disagree with many of them: The article looks at a new technology coming from Microsoft that will let PocketPC users scan items in stores and read reviews about them. The writer compares the idea to Cue:Cat, a failed technology that let magazine readers scan bar codes in the magazine with a scanner hooked up to a computer for more information about the article or advertisement. This was just a bad idea--nobody reads a magazine while sitting in front of their computer.
On a side note, ironically, some Ziff Davis magazines (eWeek is published by Ziff Davis) were very keen on this idea a few years back. When I first got hired on at Interactive Week there was lots of talk about this and some higher ups were really gung ho on deploying it. I think Interactive Week did actually start embedding bar codes in the magazine but I'm not positive that it did.
At any rate, this article argues that the new Microsoft scanning idea will fail just like Cue:Cat. But I think there are appropriate applications for it. The writer considers using such a PocketPC to scan and read about nails at Home Depot or toilet paper at the grocery store. He's right that no one would care to do that and that there's a good chance that reviews that other people might post about products might likely be written by marketers at the companies.
But there are plenty of situations where this type of application could work and already is. Tech Superpowers in Boston has a trial that uses its free Newbury Open.net network to let customers at a bookstore borrow PocketPCs. The handhelds run software from SmartWorld that lets them scan the barcode on a book and get connected to reader reviews and other book recommendations on Amazon.com. I think this is a good application of scanning technology. I can also imagine using a scanner on a PDA when shopping for other competitive products like computers.
However, I agree that buying a PDA and a scanner just to do this kind of comparison shopping may be a stretch for some people. But who knows, there are a million different marketing deals that might make the scanner portion super cheap or free. Or, some shops might let shoppers borrow such devices, like the bookstore in Boston does.
Also, I just have to say that I personally love the self-scan check out at Home Depot. I use it all the time. It's much faster than waiting in the regular line and if I do have a problem with scanning something there's a clerk waiting to help out. But I have read many other complaints about it so I think some people love it and some people hate it.
Cisco Press has put out a book for network engineers and IT professionals looking to learn about building and maintaining WLANs: The book, "802.11 Wireless LAN Fundamentals," is also aimed at helping IT managers justify the value of the wireless networks in an organization.
This poorly-written piece offers up some more comments from Nomadix on its redirect patent: While Joel Short, Nomadix's chief technology officer, says here that the company isn't focused on suing companies for patent infringement, he also repeatedly says that Nomadix will "encourage" companies to license its technology rather than infringe.
I continue to make calls to operators and vendors that could be affected by this patent and generally find companies reluctant to talk about the issue. Many of them say that they believe many companies had redirection before Nomadix filed for the patent and as such the patent shouldn't be enforceable; this is called "prior art."
But I suspect that few want to actually be the company that challenges the patent. They're likely waiting to see if Nomadix goes after them. My impression, based on the fact that I continue to feel like I'm informing companies of the patent, is that Nomadix hasn't yet approached vendors or operators that it feels are infringing on the patent.
There are some companies supportive of Nomadix, however. STSN licenses the Nomadix redirection technology and believes others should too. "The Wi-Fi industry will come to a grinding halt if we don't support the private ownership of IP [intellectual property]," said David Garrison, STSN's CEO said in an exclusive interview today. "So, on one hand, we can say we want this industry to develop and have new technologies, but companies like ours aren't going to invest in the new technology and research if we can’t get protection around IP."
C I Host, a Web hosting provider, gave a journalist a Ford Expedition and told him to hit the road and report on Wi-Fi around the country: The "Wi-Fi Guy" plans to take a big road trip and report on his experiences at hotspots. The "Wi-Fi Guy" apparently doesn't have another name and the announcement doesn't mention where you can find his reports. While this sounds like fun, the guy also has to drive around in a gas sucking SUV "boldly wrapped in C I Host's trademark orange and blue."
EliteGroup and Lindows are selling a Linux-based notebook computer for under $700: The computer runs on an AMD processor and has built-in Wi-Fi. Some analysts wonder if the notebook will appeal to consumers given that low-end Windows laptops are available near that price range.
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.
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.
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…