Email Delivery

Receive new posts as email.

Email address

Syndicate this site

RSS | Atom


About This Site
Contact Us
Privacy Policy


November 2010
Sun Mon Tues Wed Thurs Fri Sat
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30        

Stories by Category

Basics :: Basics
Casting :: Casting Listen In Podcasts Videocasts
Culture :: Culture Hacking
Deals :: Deals
Future :: Future
Hardware :: Hardware Adapters Appliances Chips Consumer Electronics Gaming Home Entertainment Music Photography Video Gadgets Mesh Monitoring and Testing PDAs Phones Smartphones
Industry :: Industry Conferences Financial Free Health Legal Research Vendor analysis
International :: International
Media :: Media Locally cached Streaming
Metro-Scale Networks :: Metro-Scale Networks Community Networking Municipal
Network Types :: Network Types Broadband Wireless Cellular 2.5G and 3G 4G Power Line Satellite
News :: News Mainstream Media
Politics :: Politics Regulation Sock Puppets
Schedules :: Schedules
Security :: Security 802.1X
Site Specific :: Site Specific Administrative Detail April Fool's Blogging Book review Cluelessness Guest Commentary History Humor Self-Promotion Unique Wee-Fi Who's Hot Today?
Software :: Software Open Source
Spectrum :: Spectrum 60 GHz
Standards :: Standards 802.11a 802.11ac 802.11ad 802.11e 802.11g 802.11n 802.20 Bluetooth MIMO UWB WiGig WiMAX ZigBee
Transportation and Lodging :: Transportation and Lodging Air Travel Aquatic Commuting Hotels Rails
Unclassified :: Unclassified
Vertical Markets :: Vertical Markets Academia Enterprise WLAN Switches Home Hot Spot Aggregators Hot Spot Advertising Road Warrior Roaming Libraries Location Medical Public Safety Residential Rural SOHO Small-Medium Sized Business Universities Utilities wISP
Voice :: Voice


November 2010 | October 2010 | September 2010 | August 2010 | July 2010 | June 2010 | May 2010 | April 2010 | March 2010 | February 2010 | January 2010 | December 2009 | November 2009 | October 2009 | September 2009 | August 2009 | July 2009 | June 2009 | May 2009 | April 2009 | March 2009 | February 2009 | January 2009 | December 2008 | November 2008 | October 2008 | September 2008 | August 2008 | July 2008 | June 2008 | May 2008 | April 2008 | March 2008 | February 2008 | January 2008 | December 2007 | November 2007 | October 2007 | September 2007 | August 2007 | July 2007 | June 2007 | May 2007 | April 2007 | March 2007 | February 2007 | January 2007 | December 2006 | November 2006 | October 2006 | September 2006 | August 2006 | July 2006 | June 2006 | May 2006 | April 2006 | March 2006 | February 2006 | January 2006 | December 2005 | November 2005 | October 2005 | September 2005 | August 2005 | July 2005 | June 2005 | May 2005 | April 2005 | March 2005 | February 2005 | January 2005 | December 2004 | November 2004 | October 2004 | September 2004 | August 2004 | July 2004 | June 2004 | May 2004 | April 2004 | March 2004 | February 2004 | January 2004 | December 2003 | November 2003 | October 2003 | September 2003 | August 2003 | July 2003 | June 2003 | May 2003 | April 2003 | March 2003 | February 2003 | January 2003 | December 2002 | November 2002 | October 2002 | September 2002 | August 2002 | July 2002 | June 2002 | May 2002 | April 2002 | March 2002 | February 2002 | January 2002 | December 2001 | November 2001 | October 2001 | September 2001 | August 2001 | July 2001 | June 2001 | May 2001 | April 2001 |

Recent Entries

In-Flight Wi-Fi and In-Flight Bombs
Can WPA Protect against Firesheep on Same Network?
Southwest Sets In-Flight Wi-Fi at $5
Eye-Fi Adds a View for Web Access
Firesheep Makes Sidejacking Easy
Wi-Fi Direct Certification Starts
Decaf on the Starbucks Digital Network
Google Did Snag Passwords
WiMax and LTE Not Technically 4G by ITU Standards
AT&T Wi-Fi Connections Keep High Growth with Free Service

Site Philosophy

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.

Powered by
Movable Type

« Wireless Ventures, Day 2 | Main | Weekend News »

May 3, 2002

Wireless Ventures: Guest Floor Report

Report from the Field: Ken Berger

Ken Berger is a regular and well-informed correspondent on issues Wi-Fi-related. He's a consultant (LogX Technologies) and an active member of BAWUG (Bay Area Wireless Users Group). In what is more or less a first for this blog, he sent in a comprehensive guest report:

The Wireless Ventures conference overall was terrific, if for no other reason than it had a large percentage of existing U.S. wireless startups and interested venture investors all together in the same place. Richard Shaffer (VentureWire's editor-in-chief) has got to be about the best moderator I've ever seen, with a soothing yet authoritative orator's voice. The timing on the presentations was efficient -- about 10 different rooms in close reach, each with a company's CEO madly trying to compel his company's overview in the 20 minutes allotted, strictly enforced. The downside was that there was little or no time to get questions asked and answered, this particularly frustrating because many of the presentations left gaping holes in the pitch's substance.

Buzz. I read another blog or two about the conference talking about the sense of the Next Big Thing (NBT). However, I could, for the most part, largely sense an air of desperation. It's tough out there, and you can immediately feel it in here. Most CEO's seemed to be grasping for credibility -- you could tell that they know about the unknowns they face even as their words paint a rosy picture. The mood is not quite futile, but it clearly isn't fun, and very few presentations are punctuated with any humor or jokes. Even smiles in the hallways seem to be scarce compared to at other conferences, even venture-oriented ones. The attendee ends each session faced with a card on which to place their vote (from 1 to 10) on the company's prospects. I spoke to few people who put more than a 5 on any of their cards.

The Amway of Wireless? I found Joltage's presentation notable here. They stated they will neither own nor operate any of the system's AP's (access points), and that their business model rests largely on utilizing the AP's of private residences and businesses-- folks like you and me. So there's nothing stopping a house husband from hosting using Win95 over a dialup AOL connection, and even most advanced users are likely not going to have nearly the right equipment to scale for more than a couple simultaneous users. This is a not un-fathomable situation if the service does take off and the host lives, say, across the street from a Starbucks on 34th Street in Manhattan. Hell, I've used a Wi-Fi connection across the street from a souped-up host AP (not a Joltage one) with a high-powered antenna in San Francisco and the signal cut every time the shiny steel MUNI car came past!

I had time at the end of the session to bring up this serious QoS (Quality of Service) issue, where folks would get inspired to sign up for this mult-level-marketing (MLM)-style program (that phrasing in this part of my comment went unopposed), and then not necessarily be able to keep up their QoS, thus compromising the users' experience of the system in general. The question was deferred to the tech guy, who sprang up responding that substantial monitoring would take place, and centralized support would "talk the offending AP owner through resolution." Hmmm.

In my opinion, Joltage and Boingo may have something-- namely marketing -- but what they have for now is only a piece of the puzzle, albeit an essential piece. Other companies presenting here, SkyPilot, MeshNetworks, and Sputnik (I love Sputnik's term "rogue AP detection" -- sounds like something from The Terminator) have another piece of the puzzle. If that same AP goes down, just re-route to find alternative AP's. Perhaps the combination of these pieces is necessary for either model-piece company to survive, although I've run this thought by a few VC's and they feel that the economics may not pencil out. But before we lose faith, did you read this? Nicholas Negroponte has joined Joltage's board.

Out in the hallway, I ran into a prominent VC to whom I pitched an idea over a year ago. It was pretty much the same concept as Joltage, then later with a variation that more resembled Boingo, and he winced at the time. But he's now bullish on Boingo, saying that "If you're gonna do something like that, you better have a big bullhorn, and Sky's got one!" Glenn's aside: Ever since Sky told me about Boingo, I've said if it was anyone but him, they'd be wrestling with bodies in the dotcom graveyard. As it is, Sky's entrance validates the field initially, but Boingo still has to prove itself.

HereUare. This one really left me incredulous. The entire presentation preached to what should seem an obvious choir the merits and revolutionary aspects of hotspot networking and 802.11. But almost nothing was said about HereUare's specific place and future in the space. At the end, with no time left for questions, I muttered, "OK, but what do YOU do?" At least 4 people laughed aloud, thinking that they were the only one(s) thinking that as well.

WiFi Metro. Similar feel to the HereUare presentation. And I wanted to ask, "This didn't work for AirWave, tell us why it will work for you." I hope it does. Glenn's aside: One of WiFi Metro's advantage is that they took over spots and service without having wasted the sums of money of their predecessor; that's an advantage they have to maximize.

Unexpected winners: Leap Wireless and Vocera. These two were not named in the concluding session's top 10 but drew surprise interest. Leap Wireless did a lunchtime presentation and pretty much blew my socks off. Their innovative program is called 'Cricket', sort of a Southwest Airlines play for the cellphone industry. Nothing fancy (at least for the moment): just offer voice, unlimited minutes, about $32/month fixed, paid in advance. Pick a niche, including young folks, families. Only do it in secondary markets (Buffalo, Merced, Chattanooga, etc). Keep the device lineup small ("If you don't watch it, devices will kill you," was a quote from an ex-CellularOne exec the speaker mentioned), sell them in supermarkets and shopping malls. Brilliant. They will however need some serious additional investment in the near future (they've been public for a few years -- it's not just startups here). I'm tempted to reach for my checkbook.

Vocera makes a cool gadget that you can wear in your shirt pocket or on a necklace (think: doctor in a hospital or worker in a warehouse). When you talk, the mic picks up your voice and transmits it VOIP to the nearest 802.11b receiver, through the building's or area's system and broadcast out thus allowing communication walkie-talkie style to other hospital staff. I'm buying the CEO's story that this is highly useful today, and that hospitals and other in-building implementations may well embrace the product.

Blackburied? Eric Benhamou, Palm CEO, and Richard Shaffer had a little one-on-one chat, punctuated by a point that stuck with me. The tidbit stems from a data point whereby Research in Motion has sold a total of only 300,000 Blackberrys. Is this possible?? It sometimes seems like there's that many active on any business day in VC-rich Menlo Park alone. If the number really is that low, then the point being made on stage seems reasonable: questioning the value in going after this market after all. Shaffer made a poke about the i705's underwhelm; perhaps this point mutates the i705 fiasco into sour grapes. Glenn's aside: a reader added some detail. The 300K figure includes over units that RIM supplies service to. Worldwide, approximately 1.4 million Blackberrys are in use under different brands and via different service providers.

Stop here (concluding session). I really felt for the four panelists up there. No one wanted to be too hard on any company or technology; no one seemed to want to rave much either. There was a 10-most-likely-to-succeed listing, partly calculated from the voting cards turned in from the sessions. Actually, you really can stop reading here if you want, the following is just a few random notes from the closing session:

WLAN, 802.11b/a/g (I actually think I'm hearing it now referred to as just "bag" -- Glenn's aside: Alert Wired's Jargon Watch) has clearly the most interest, and the majority of the companies here are centered around it. The panelists seemed to agree that it's the near-term winner, though only one really spoke up for the hotspot companies, and he admitted that their business models were 'troubling'. Europe will want SIM-based WLAN cards, US doesn't and won't care. T-Mobile (VoiceStream's rebranded US name taken from their European service) will at some point run with their U.S. hotspot expansion. Wireless is no longer 3G; 3G dead in U.S. for at least three years. Were you planning to start a company to make 802.11 chips? Window is now closed! Bermai interesting in this area. Any exits will be overwhelmingly acquisitions, IPO's unlikely for most (any?) of these companies in the foreseeable future. Glenn's asides: See my analysis yesterday on 3G's future; day before on Bermai and Marvell.

Some of the winners:
Airvana: System to enable carriers to do something better. Doing well in Asia.
Cyneta: Data acceleration/optimization.
Rosum: Challenges conventional wisdom by using television signals for LBS (location-based services). TV signals are 1,000 times more powerful than the typical cellphone signal. But problems exist with the infrastructure.
Netmotion Wireless: LAN/WAN integration.
Mesh Networks: (Gee, what do they do??) Great idea, although will take a couple more years to get it right. Originates from military uses. Good solution in places where there are no alternatives.

Other News for 5/3/2002

Shel Israel files a summary of the Wireless Ventures event: he emailed the article out, but the link isn't yet on the site for it. Watch for it.

Helen, Sweetheart of the Internet, kipes some Wi-Fi: this comic strip is close to my heart, and the cartoonist is a real geek. Today, Helen acts like the rest of us (myself included) and steals a little bandwidth on a bench.

More on Best Buy's wireless cash register problems: the registers were used only when normal lines were overwhelmed. Still, who turned off the security?

Coming early next week: An overview of Proxim's latest technology, the potential for HomeRF, and other tidbits gleaned from a lunch with Ken Haase, Proxim's Director of Product Marketing, and the general manager of the HomeRF Working Group.