March 15, 2004
By Galen Gruman, editorial director, IT Wireless
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Broadbeam will release in June its MSS IntelliSwitching software that lets enterprises determine preferred wireless access preferences to both cellular and Wi-Fi providers, automatically switching networks as appropriate based on corporate policies and provider relationships. Thus, a Wi-Fi-enabled notebook would always use an internal corporate connection in the office, Wi-Fi service from an approved corporate provider in a hotel or airport, and cellular data connections from an approved provider elsewhere.

Roving Planet's latest enterprise-class wireless LAN security, management, and integration platform, Central Site Director 2.5, now supports both IBM X304 and IBMX335 Linux servers, as well as its current install base of Roving Planet hardware. Support for additional leading Intel-based Linux hardware platforms is planned throughout 2004.

Vernier Networks' new System Version 4 wireless LAN management suite lets IT administrators map business policies to network security for individual mobile users. An administrator console at the heart of the system provides visibility across the entire wireless network and centralized control of users, resources, services, and applications.

Meru Networks is releasing Meru WLAN Radar, software that detects rogue access points without disrupting access-point service during the scanning or requiring dedicated scanning hardware. The company has also released the Zero-Config VPN Module with QoS, a hardware device that uses Cavium's Nitrox security processors to create secure virtual private networks in a wireless LAN.

Berkeley Varitronics Systems has released Yellowjacket 802.11b/g, a calibrated wireless receiver system that interfaces with Hewlett-Packard's iPaq Pocket PC handheld to sweep, analyze, and optimize 2.4GHz Wi-Fi networks.The receiver measures all 14 OFDM/DSSS network channels for instant analysis of any access point's MAC, SSID, and RSSI signal levels on or off any 802.11b/g wireless Internet service provider or hot spot.

Symbol Technologies has introduced the WS 2000, a new wireless LAN switch. The Symbol WS 2000 is designed for wireless environments and applications at the branch office, powering wireless point-of-sale and merchandise management applications in retail stores as well as helping drive mobile checkout and public Wi-Fi hot-spot applications in franchise restaurants, coffee shops, bookstores, convenience stores, and gas-stations.

Sierra Wireless expects to ship this fall the AirCard 775 PC Card for the EDGE network. When used on the newer Enhanced Data for Global Evolution (EDGE) cellular networks now starting to be deployed, the Sierra claims the new wireless WAN card will provide access speeds up to three times faster than currently available Global Packet Radio System (GPRS) networks. EDGE is an upgrade to GPRS. Separately, Nokia said the development of hardware for so-called third-generation (3G) networks such as EDGE was taking longer than expected, saying the delay was due to the initial hardware being developed before the 3G networks were fully tested. "Without stability of networks, you cannot test handsets," said Nokia CEO Jorma Ollila at a recent telecommunications conference in Nice, France.

In other product news:

In hot-spot developments, T-Mobile has begun offering Wi-Fi service at US Airways Club locations, starting with Washington National and San Francisco International airports this month, and with locations in the Philadelphia, Boston, and New York LaGuardia airports to follow. U.S.-based T-Mobile users can now roam in Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom using their U.S. accounts. Another deal permits Boingo customers to roam in SkyNetGlobal's wireless hot spots in Australia and Singapore. Meanwhile, Sprint PCS Wi-Fi Access service subscribers will now be able to roam at more than 500 STSN iBahn wireless-enabled hotels in North America, while STSN iBahn Passport service subscribers will be able to roam on Wi-Fi zones built and managed by Sprint.

Got a great product or technology tip? Send it to news@it-wireless.com.

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InfoTech: Top 10 Enterprise Mobility Predictions for 2004

1. The penetration of wireless LAN solutions in the enterprise has grown from 6% in 2000 to 45% in 2004, representing an annual growth rate of 73%. InfoTech attributes this rise to falling equipment costs, growing availability of wireless LAN-enabled devices, and strong demand for mobility-focused applications in the enterprise. The main vertical segments that have deployed are education, health care, and logistics.

2. Although nearly half of all U.S. enterprises are using wireless LAN technologies, the vast majority over 75% have an extremely limited wireless LAN deployment, with only 10% of their employees using wireless applications. The chief concerns in 2003 included security, confusion about standards, a lack of demonstrated return on investment, and uncertainty around the key business benefits. Concerns around wireless privacy will start to diminish with the release of the IEEE 802.11i security standard this year.

3. Although Verizon Wireless's launched a limited deployment of CDMA2000 EVDO higher-speed cellular date networks, the slower, so-called 2.5G and 3G Lite data network launches including GPRS, EDGE, and CDMA2000 1XRTT continued to dominate throughout 2003. The year saw EDGE and 1XRTT become readily available in many parts of the country, with increasing adoption. InfoTech expects wireless subscriber numbers to continue to rise during 2004, bolstered by the steady use of traditional voice applications not data to drive wireless use this year.

4. The year 2003 saw Intel aspire to market dominance in wireless networking. It will advance toward that goal this year as its Centrino processor gains 802.11g support and integrated products that meet the IEEE 802.16 WiMax metro-area wireless network specification see increased production.

5. In 2003, the use of wireless data shifted from early adopters to the mainstream market, due to the introduction of products such as the PalmOne Treo 600 and the Research in Motion Blackberry 7200 series, along with growth of horizontal applications such as wireless email. This segment has seen notable improvements with enhancements from vendors such as Good Technology, JP Mobile, Pumatech/Synchrologic, RIM, and Visto.

6. Driven by increasing demand for ubiquitous cellular and wireless LAN coverage, InfoTech sees a large rise in the number of in-building centric mobile enterprise users, growing from 14.8 million in 2002 to 30.8 million in 2008, representing 24% of the total domestic workforce and nearly 40% of the total mobile workforce.

7. With its acquisition of Linksys, Cisco Systems expanded its enterprise-only strategy to include consumer market leadership as well. This highlights a consolidation trend that, despite the proliferation of product portfolios targeting enterprise customers, InfoTech expects to see continue significantly this year.

8. With the domestic voice-over-wireless-LAN installed base approaching 100,000 enterprises, SpectraLink extended its market leadership to target the health care, education, manufacturing, and retail verticals. InfoTech sees increased horizontal adoption of voice-over-wireless-LAN applications over the next 24 months as a primary catalyst for wireless LAN growth in the enterprise market.

9. InfoTech research shows that enterprise decision-market interest in wireless LAN/WAN integration has become widespread, with over 43% of surveyed enterprises viewing seamless voice-over-wireless-LAN and cellular service as having high value to their businesses. Expect a new crop of dual-mode solutions from Nokia, NEC America, and the Avaya/Proxim/Motorola venture to come to market this year.

10. Thanks in large measure to Wal-Mart's (and now Target Stores') highly publicized use of wireless inventory tracking, radiofrequency identification (RFID) is poised for significant growth. Microsoft plans to bring RFID-enabled supply-chain management software to market this year, targeting small to medium businesses.

ABI: 802.11g Share to Surpass 802.11b This Year, Mainly Due to Home Users 

Newer Wi-Fi equipment and innovative applications for Wi-Fi will continue to drive growth for the Wi-Fi industry. During 2009, 95 million Wi-Fi networking equipment devices will be shipped, according to technology research firm ABI. While 802.11b was the most popular protocol in 2003, 802.11g will surpass it in 2004. Sales of 802.11g equipment are already greater than that of 802.11b, since consumers tend to choose products with the fastest speeds. This includes standard and standards-plus equipment that support higher speeds with proprietary methods. Standards-plus products work at standard Wi-Fi data rates when used with equipment from other manufacturers that do not use the same proprietary technology.

These rapid changes are occurring for multiple reasons. Broadband adoption is one, as the number of people with broadband connections keeps growing. People with DSL and cable modems have plenty of bandwidth to share among multiple computers, and wireless networking enhances the computing experience. The year 2005 will see more dual-band 802.11a/g shipments than that for single-band 802.11g. While dual-band Wi-Fi access points and adapters with standard speeds of 54Mbps may seem unnecessary or even overkill, new applications will make use of those speeds.

Reductions in production costs have enabled 802.11g average selling prices to fall closer to that of 802.11b. The same will occur with 802.11a/g. "Advances in production technology have enabled Wi-Fi IC vendors to reduce the costs of producing these chips," says Phil Solis, an ABI senior analyst. "Average selling prices for 802.11a/g integrated circuits will naturally remain higher than that of 802.11g ICs, but that gap will narrow over time." While data networking and the sharing of broadband access is the obvious use, multimedia applications will truly leverage the potential of Wi-Fi networks, he predicts: "Quality of service enhancements via [the forthcoming IEEE standard] 802.11e will prioritize streaming video from a DVD player to a plasma display, for example, over Web browsing from a computer. Also, a reduction of cables and wires will be more than welcome in the home."


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