August 30, 2004
By Galen Gruman, editorial director, IT Wireless
A free newsletter to all IT Wireless PR, marketing, and industry analyst subscribers.


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A group of technology companies calling itself WWise — including Texas Instruments, STMicroelectronics, and Broadcom — plans to propose an approach for the IEEE 802.11n wireless specification. The IEEE is considering various approaches to bring wireless LAN speeds to at least 100Mbps while remaining compatible with the existing 802.11b and 802.11g standards. The WWise approach could operate at up to 540Mbps but to do so would require using larger channel sizes than most jurisdictions allow. Under standard channel sizes, their 802.11n proposal would peak at 135 Mbps. The WWise participants say they would license their patents necessary to implement their version of 802.11n on a royalty-free basis if the IEEE adopts their approach for the 802.11n standard.

Product News

Symbol Technologies has released its Mobility Services Platform, a wireless management platform that includes the MSP Server, a rack-mounted appliance with a Web-based console that includes wireless network management and mobile device management capabilities such as configuration, provisioning, monitoring, charting, reporting, and troubleshooting. MSP Server contains element managers that interact with mobile devices and mobile applications through MSP agents, as well as with wireless network elements through SNMP and other protocols. MSP agents collect monitoring information and execute administrative tasks initiated through the MSP Server.

Meru Networks has announced the AP200 Access Point with Dual Speed WLAN technology, which delivers maximum performance for any client on a hybrid wireless LAN. (Normally, an 802.11g network drops to 802.11b speeds whenever an 802.11b client connects.) The AP200 access point incorporates two radios that are software-programmable to be either Meru Dual-Speed 802.11b/g or 802.11a.

Airespace has announced the availability of Proactive Key Caching, an extension of the Airespace Wireless Enterprise Platform that lets enterprises couple the security benefits of the recently ratified IEEE 802.11i specification with real-time performance and seamless mobility. Proactive Key Caching lets a single master key be used by wireless clients as they roam across a wireless network. Airespace has also extended its Wireless LAN System security capabilities to include client integrity checking and application-based network access control.

Intermec Technologies has introduced a bakery version of its RoutePower route-distribution software, which automates route activities, including customer order information, delivery invoicing, inventory management, and product pricing. The bakery version includes redistribution, stale sales reporting, and pre-post activities capabilities along with wireless email and GPS tracking.

In other product news:

  • Intel has announced that its newest line of wireless-embedded Centrino mobile Pentium chips will support the 802.11a radio standard as well as the new 802.11i authentication standard. Earlier this year, Intel added 802.11g radio support in addition to the 802.11b radio support the various Centrino models have all supported. The first notebooks using the enhanced Centrino chips should begin shipping in September.
  • AirWave Wireless is releasing version 3.0 of its AirWave Management Platform, which includes greatly enhanced scalability, a Web-based master console from which administrators can manage wireless networks with thousands of access points from most leading hardware vendors, enhanced radiofrequency (RF) monitoring to automatically detect and eliminate common sources of RF interference, and more flexible device management capabilities to permit management of an even broader range of Wi-Fi devices.
  • Sybase is developing middleware for radiofrequency identification (RFID) systems to simplify and automate the development and deployment of passive RFID, active RFID, and real-time location solutions, such as supply chain applications for inventory, shipping and receiving, and asset tracking for high-value items.

Hot-Spot News

SBC and Sprint have agreed to allow each other's Wi-Fi hot-spot users to roam across both systems later this year. Sprint has five hot spots in the U.S. and SBC has about 2,300.

Chantry Networks and Mobilisa have deployed Wi-Fi access for passengers on board the Washington State Ferry system. The Washington State Ferry system serves more than eight counties in Washington and the Canadian province of British Columbia. Every weekday more than 75,000 Puget Sound residents commute to work or school aboard a Washington State Ferry. Users will pay a fee to use the hot-spot system.

T-Mobile is deploying Wi-Fi access at all 359 Red Roof Inns in the U.S. T-Mobile says its deployment will differ from many other hotel deployments in that it will have coverage within hotel rooms, not just within lobbies and other public spaces.

Boingo Wireless and ICOA have established a roaming agreement that lets Boingo customers access ICOA Wi-Fi hot spots at the Spokane, Wash., International; Greater Baton Rouge, La.; Sacramento International; Manchester, N.H.; Savannah/Hilton Head, Ga., International; and Fresno-Yosemite, Calif., International airports.

Using technology from Nomadix, Hermosa Beach, Calif., is deploying free wireless access to about 35% of the beach town near Los Angeles. Service will be available downtown, at City Hall, and in adjacent neighborhoods. Meanwhile, BelAir Networks and Cheetah Wireless Technologies have deployed a citywide Wi-Fi hot zone in Encinitas, Calif., a small city between Los Angeles and San Diego. The hot zone serves 250 businesses, 150 offices, 1,500 residents, and tourists and business travelers in downtown Encinitas. Residents and businesses must have a broadband service subscription, which will include the Wi-Fi access. Service begins in September.

Colubris Networks and i-Hotel International have deployed Wi-Fi access at about 70 hotels throughout Canada. The service is available for hotel guests, often for an additional fee. The hotels will also use the wireless system to transmit purchase data throughout the hotel and to let guests' room keys serve as payment cards.

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

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ABI Research: Bright Future for ZigBee Wireless Control

ZigBee, the new low-power, short-range wireless sensor and control technology, is barely a blip on the radar today. But in less than three years, the market for the new devices is set for explosive growth, says ABI Research in its new study, "ZigBee and 802.15.4 Wireless Networks."

The study forecasts shipments of ZigBee devices in 2005 at about 1 million. But by the end of 2006, ABI Research moderate forecasts see ZigBee equipped device shipments skyrocketing to over 80 million units worldwide. According to ABI Research analyst Chris Lopez, the industrial sector will be the first to adopt ZigBee devices, with home networking buyers following about a year later. He says that 2006 will be the year ZigBee starts to gain significant traction, for two reasons. "First," he says, "802.15.4b will be approved. This extension of the basic standard will simplify and improve interoperability worldwide. Secondly, ZigBee [chip] vendors who today mainly target European and American manufacturers will be ready to turn their attention to the huge markets of Asia."

While some vendors have brought out products of this type already, the ZigBee Alliance has been hammering out a standard for the new wireless communication technology for something like two years. According to Lopez, the long wait has occurred because the companies in the alliance "wanted to make sure it is absolutely foolproof. If it doesn't always work right out of the box, buyers will reject it."

Now it appears that agreement on the standard is finally in sight, and ratification should occur in the very near future. Once it is published, ABI Research expects a gradual but progressively steep decline in sales of noncompliant ZigBee-like devices.

ARC Group: Mobile Data Revenues to Rise Quickly

Mobile computing devices — including smart phones, PDA handhelds, and notebooks — will generate more than $130 billion in data access revenues by 2009, according to ARC Group's Future Mobile Computing 2004 report. More than 72% of this total will stem from wireless WAN (cellular) mobile access and, of this, some $34 billion will be generated by notebook users accessing third-generation (3G) and 2.5G services for the most part using plug-in PC data cards.

North America currently has the highest share of wireless WAN–connected notebook users — some 4.4 million by the end of 2004 — reflecting the long experience and close affinity the region's users have with computers and the Internet. However, Europe, currently on a par with the Asia-Pacific region at around 3 million users in 2004, is anticipated to edge ahead by 2005, and lead wireless WAN–connected notebook use from 2006 onwards, as 2.5G and 3G service rollouts encourage mobile operators to promote wireless WAN data cards and related business and consumer data services more aggressively to their subscribers. The Asia-Pacific region was the early leader in the wireless WAN smart-phone user market, but Europe is also expected to take the lead here by 2006 with more than 35 million users, thanks to near ubiquitous WCMDA or GPRS coverage and a higher general level of disposable income.

"By contrast, North America will be the unchallenged leader in wireless LAN public hot-spot usage via smart phones, handhelds, and notebooks by 2009, with more than 61 million users, more than half of whom will be using notebooks to access services", says Freda Benlamlih, senior consultant with ARC Group. Nevertheless, because smart phones and PDAs are more readily portable, they will be carried and used more regularly and will generate higher revenues per device, she predicts. The Asia-Pacific region will have the second highest number of public hot-spot users. Hot spots there will be more dispersed, generally only available in large towns and cities and popular tourist sites, and usage will likely be limited to business users, visitors, and the relatively few consumers able to afford the relatively expensive devices required.


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