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The CDMA Development Group has completed the CDMA Packet Data Roaming Exchange (CRX) specification, which covers network interconnection, Radius messaging, use of packet data applications while roaming, data exchange between third parties, data clearing and settlement, service scheduling, and service migration for Interstandard CDMA2000/GPRS packet data roaming. The industry group hopes carriers will use it to allow roaming for data usage; most carriers now have roaming agreements just for voice traffic.
The Bluetooth Special Interest Group has released its technology goals for the next three years to enhance the short-range wireless technology. Step one was recently completed through the release of the Bluetooth Version 2.0+ Enhanced Data Rate specification that delivers data-transmission rates of up to 3Mbps for broadband applications. In 2005, the Bluetooth SIG plans to launch an upgrade that focuses on improved security and privacy, as well as issues associated with latency and interference. Further down the road, the goal is to deliver multicast capabilities, allowing a single message to be sent simultaneously to multiple devices. And by 2006 the working group hopes to extend Bluetooth's range to 100 meters, up from about 10 meters today.
Airespace has added support for Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) in its Wireless Enterprise Platform, which the company says makes it first wireless LAN system to support IPv6. It has also upgraded its AireOS embedded software and Airespace Control System wireless LAN management platform to guarantee over-the-air bandwidth control, detailed wireless LAN usage reports, and real-time wireless intrusion detection and prevention. Separately, Airespace announced the availability of the Airespace 3500, a wireless LAN controller designed for enterprise locations with small to medium coverage area requirements.
RAD Data Communications will ship in early 2005 the AirMux-200, a high-capacity, carrier-class multiplexer that provides point-to-point connectivity of E1/T1 and Ethernet networks over a wireless link. The AirMux can be used by enterprises to create wireless backhauls in campus environments or by carriers and other service providers for similar links.
Trapeze Networks has upgraded its Mobility System Software to provide multiple levels of access and control for wireless LANs. Using Virtual Service Sets, networks built with Trapeze equipment can deliver public and private wireless LAN services over a single infrastructure to different constituencies while securing and isolating each group’s traffic and controlling where they roam and the resources they use. Trapeze Web Services for Wireless, another new feature set, provide browser-based services for authenticating users and regulating their access to network resources, accounting for network usage, and offering advertising and promotional services.
In other product news:
Boingo Wireless has signed a roaming partnership with Paris-based Meteor Networks that will add the more than 400 Wi-Fi hot spots throughout the French capital and surrounding cities to the Boingo Roaming System, which now covers 11,000 Wi-Fi hot spots worldwide, with 5,600 locations in Europe. It earlier inked a similar agreement with ADP Télécom, the voice and data network services subsidiary of Aéroports de Paris, to allow Boingo users to roam on its 45 airport, hotel, and convention center locations in Paris and key business cities throughout France.
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ABI Research: No Concern over Wal-Mart's RFID Deployment LagsAlthough Wal-Mart Stores has mandated that its top 100 suppliers implement radiofrequency identification (RFID) tagging by Jan. 1, only around 30% of them will have done full-scale RFID implementations by then, says Erik Michielsen, ABI Research's director of RFID and ubiquitous technologies. But that's not important, he argues. What's really important is what the lagging 70% — who have just been testing the waters with shallow "slap-and-ship" efforts — will do over the course of the coming year, and why they have been so halfhearted in their compliance efforts so far.
"Wal-Mart didn't expect this battle to be won by Jan. 1, 2005," says Michielsen. "What it did was create an incentive structure that pushed its partners in the market to better understand the technology while standards were being developed and innovation was taking place. Wal-Mart's goal is to get companies to integrate this technology into their changing business processes."
Some of these companies have said that they can't afford integration trials. "I don't think that's the real reason," Michielsen observes. "The truth is that there haven't been reputable integrators in the market. Only now are we seeing Sun Microsystems, HP, IBM, Oracle, SAP, and Microsoft getting involved at the product and personnel level."
If the theme for 2004 was standards, fundamentals and education, the next phase will be a transition to integration services involving middleware and infrastructure. 2005 will become "the year of the integrator" for RFID, Michielsen predicts.
Many logistics and IT management staffs still struggle to integrate RFID hardware and software into enterprise systems for quantifiable long term benefits, without major disruption, he notes. Integrators such as Accenture, Deloitte, Hewlett-Packard, and IBM are addressing these issues, but whether existing applications from Manhattan Associates, RedPrairie, IBM, TIBCO, WebMethods, BEA Systems, Microsoft, Oracle, and SAP can adapt to meet RFID and sensor-based architecture needs remains unclear. Startups OATsystems, Globeranger, and ConnecTerra continue to release new products, but deployment bottlenecks remain likely until electronic product code (EPC) standards are finalized and material handling and logistics companies, including HK Systems, create products around emerging sensor technology.
Revenues in the ultrawideband (UWB) and ZigBee chipsets markets were just $18 million and $18.8 million, respectively, in 2004, says Frost & Sullivan. Revenues are projected to reach $443 million and $700 million in the UWB and ZigBee markets, respectively, in 2008. The lack of universal legislation regarding spectrum allocation has challenged the adoption of penetration on UWB globally, says senior research analyst Deepa Doraiswamy. ZigBee chipset promoters are taking cautious steps to promote the technology to avoid any setback as experienced by Bluetooth, another technology targeting wireless personal area networks that had a lot of early hype but was bedeviled by interoperability and other problems in its first release. Doraiswamy says she expects UWB and ZigBee technology to appear first in consumer and home applications, then migrate to the enterprise for both desktop connectivity and machine-to-machine connectivity as chip prices decline.
For the third consecutive quarter, shipments of handheld devices, including personal digital assistants (PDAs), have declined, according to a study by IDC. Global PDA shipments fell by 8.7% to 2.1 million units in the third quarter of 2004 compared to the third quarter of 2003. Shipments were down 4.6% compared with the second quarter of 2004.
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