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« 802.11 Planet Weblogging | Main | 802.11 Planet Day 2 »

November 27, 2001

802.11 Planet Day 1

Today's ongoing blog (chronologically reversed) from today's session's at the 802.11 Planet conference.

Alan A. Reiter, President, Wireless Internet & Mobile Computing

Session: Building a Robust Wireless Business Post-Sept. 11

Alan's session was amazingly, overwhelmingly detailed (attendees get his slides online at a protected URL). He had some great sound bites:

On coding standards: "Consumers don't care: they just want to access the Web."

On Sprint's Wireless Web (lying to the customer, he said: HDML sites only): "What they're doing to stimulate usage is to charge you a high price."

On up to: "These are lies by marketing and PR people...they use these little weasel words: up to. You can get speeds 'up to.' "

Speeds under 1xRTT et al. are not available individually: only shared. "If there are absolutely no molecules in the air at all and you are making physical love to the transmitter" you can achieve maximum full speeds.

On speeds of 40-60K, "I spit on your 40K. We don't need no stinkin' 40K - but a lot of people in the U.S. and around the world dial-up and they get around 40-50 Kbps."

Building nets; "You'd better understand what customer service is all about."

Location-Based Services

Matt Peterson and various BAWUG folks kept me from eating lunch through excellent and fun conversation, and then I fell into discussion with Jeff A. from WLANA. So I confess I missed most of this panel.

I caught the end of Locationet’s presentation: they are building systems to identify location-based services and provide those for venues.

In Q&A, many questions about Bluetooth: whether it’s here and real and how it will be deployed and interact with Wi-Fi deployment. Wasted time and effort with early deployment or not? Panel thought that there was still a lot of opportunity for Wi-Fi services that Bluetooth won’t have the right configuration to support.

Peanut Gallery

Another attendee emailed me – wanted me to point out something I do feel compelled to (plus he didn’t like the for-fee food). There’s no 802.11b access in the conference presentation room! It’s not the end of the world and I suspect it has more to do with the convention center’s telecomm/Net charges than anything else.

Am I just glad this conference is happening in this economy? Yes!

I’m quite impressed with the conference, and with the determination of Alan Meckler (who I met for the time here) to carry through with this event. Everyone here is dedicated: they’re here to learn and then run out and spend. I imagine the 100 or so attendees are highly qualified for the trade-show vendors. (Wi-Fi access is available there, which makes us a nicely captive audience.)

INT Media has already announced at this event the next two: June in Philadelphia and October back here in the Bay Area. I can’t tell if Meckler’s doing okay on this event (he did say he was, but was vague about in what way), but they’re in it for the long haul: this is the establishing event, and I’m learning a lot of the subtle points surrounding the ISP and IT side of things. My reporting and expertise is centered on the complementary side: technology and consumers.

Come to think of it, I think INT may be doing just fine: the entire convention center here in Santa Clara is empty, so I imagine they got a deal on rental. There are a number of trade show booths, and a reasonable number of attendees. Meckler pointed out in some opening remarks that almost all attendees are from West of the Mississippi and most are from the West Coast. He thought that was one telling factor of the post-Sept. 11 reality coupled with the current economy.

Opportunities and Advantages Panel

I was on this panel and tried to take notes during the presentation.

Kathryn Korostoff, president, Sage Research, panel moderator: has spoken with hundreds of IT managers as part of her job. Wireless LANs aren’t being deployed universally: often dependent on job title.

They estimate 8 hours per week in saved productivity on average per connected WLAN user – about $400/day.

Fewer than 15 percent of users on average have WLAN access in companies with WLANs.

Jeff Abramovitz, executive director of WLANA (the Wireless LAN Association, non-profit trade group): enterprise adoption is 3 to 5 percent of market. (Also talked about WLANA in general and market, relevant to audience, which has many ISPs and potential ISPs in it.)

Greg Collins, Dell’Oro Group, consulting and market research: 9 percent increase in 802.11b equipment shipments in third quarter 2001. Price declines are “key to growth.”

2001: doubling shipping revenue (i.e., to manufacturers) to $1.2 billion, mostly SOHO in increase. Still in early adopter phase.

Monica Paolini, consultant, Analysys: 3G is coming “any time soon, but probably later than soon.” 3G handsets may cost $700 initially.

3G’s primary use may wind up being email because of limited bandwidth even with full deployment, which she says is 500 kbps at best.

Real-estate owners have lots of leverage with Wi-Fi, as deployers can sign contracts with them as opposed to cell phone and similar wireless where each person has their own deal.

Roaming is especially important. “Mobile operators have big advantages in exploiting wireless LAN applications” as they already knowa lot about networks.

Daniel Williams, Chief Investment Office, Telecommunications Development Fund: ($50M under management VC talking about opportunities from VC perspective) Profitability should be on the list. It wasn’t in the past, and you have to have a clear path to it now.

There’s a value chain from chips to end user, and many of the points along the chain are fully occupied by major vendors and suppliers. But middlemen that connect pieces (wiring homes, software, etc.) have opportunities.

Bandwidth has to be provisioned, managed, billed, and reconciled, and there must be a back-office infrastructure to deal with it. That’s an opportunity.

Yours truly: I spoke about Balkanization and co-existence in 2.4 and 5 Ghz: competing specs, non-standard specs, etc. My presentation is available on the Web here.

Agere's Allan Scott

Business Manager, the Americas, Agere Systems Orinoco

2.5G services around the corner: maybe next 12 months or so

Agere estimates 500 wireless ISPs nationwide, making money and focusing on niche

HyperLAN too telecomm focused, too limited: 802.11a will become worldwide standard in the long run

Top 10 portable computer manufacturers: all of them are offering Wi-Fi as an option

Agere sees Wi-FI as complementary to 3G (ubiquity, speed tradeoffs)

Next year: PC cards at $50

Wi-Fi: "Probably the only attractive segment of the IT market today." Why? "Why? Because it makes economic sense."

Good for ISPs: "You don't have to send somebody in the house to drill holes in the wall." No truck roll. No expensive service calls.

"Very shortly you're going to see integrated DSL/cable modem" routers in home wireless gateways

Wi-Fi5/802.11a solution for backbone: $25K each for microwave solutions versus maybe a few thousand for 5 GHz WLAN

Telcos: "I don't know of a major carrier in the United States that isn't testing today. If they're not testing a system, they're already in the pilot stage."

"Wi-Fi is 3G: If a base station costs anywhere from $250K to $750K, why would you invest in something like that? Wouldn't it make more sense to take that money and blanket the area" with cheaper access points?

Keynote address

Teik-Kheong (TK) Tan, 3Com, and WECA marketing co-chair keynote

Wi-Fi5 logo to certify 802.11a products. The Test spec for Wi-Fi5 almost ready

802.11i will have mandatory 802.1x authentication as part of spec

802.11e: 2nd Q 2002 most likely. Quality of Service issues for voice over IP, etc.

802.11g: end of 2002, early 2003 for final ratification - only first half of work really done, instead of as reported in press

802.11h: DFS/TPC required for European operation

Radar community trying to convince ITU to prohibit 5 GHz WLANs but attempt at WRC2003 to allow radio LANs while respecting needs of radar community (DFS/TPC part of techniques)

802.11NG was trying to be agnostic across 5 GHz standards including HiperLAN2 and 802.11a, but now moving into broader swaths of issues not just 5 GHz

WISPr (Wireless ISP roaming) standard in active discussion next week in Boston by WECA.