April 12, 2004
By Galen Gruman, editorial director, IT Wireless
A free newsletter to all IT Wireless subscribers.



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The Latest in Wireless Products and Tech

Chipmaker Atheros Communications has released a software update that provides performance on demand based on channel availability. The variable-bandwidth radio system monitors the entire 802.11g band and automatically increases the throughput when channels are available. The company claims that Atheros-based Super G products with Dynamic Turbo, available from several wireless LAN equipment makers, will consistently deliver more than 60Mbps of TCP/IP throughput using typical data files and will automatically adjust to single-channel transmission when operating near standard 802.11b and 802.11g networks, allowing other users to achieve maximum throughput. Meanwhile, chipmaker Broadcom has released its Afterburner technology to wireless LAN equipment makers; the company says provides up to 40% greater throughput than typical standard 802.11g systems without impacting the performance of neighboring wireless LANs.

TamoSoft has enhanced its CommView for Wi-Fi analyzer software, which monitors 802.11a/b/g networks and can decode 802.11 authentication and key exchange packets as well as perform on-the-fly and postcapture decryption of encrypted data packets using a user-defined Wired Equivalency Protocol (WEP) key or Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) passphrase. CommView for Wi-Fi can also conduct WPA decryption in preshared key (PSK) mode.

Trapeze Networks has upgraded its wireless LAN management suite. Mobility System Software 2.0 lets IT position the Trapeze Mobility Exchange wireless LAN switches and Mobility Point access points anywhere in the network: IT can choose to directly connect the two devices or use the existing wired network to link them. The system also provides stronger support for third-party access points, including powering them via standard Power over Ethernet (PoE) and modeling their radiofrequency patterns in a given customer's environment.

TrenStar and O-T-D are partnering to deliver the first standard, radiofrequency identification (RFID)–ready reusable containers as part of TrenStar's mobile asset management solution designed for the synthetic rubber industry.

In other product news:

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

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The Latest in the Wireless Marketplace

ABI: Vehicular Bluetooth, WiMax Both See Growth

The availability of Bluetooth-enabled handset offerings in North America has increased approximately 65% to date over 2003 levels, according to the research firm Allied Business Intelligence (ABI). Consequently, the amount of vehicle models available with Bluetooth in North America has also increased over 40% from the prior year. "Thanks to growing commitment to Bluetooth on the part of device manufacturers, automakers are becoming less apprehensive about supporting Bluetooth in their models," says Frank Viquez, ABI Research's director of automotive research. "Validating the technology was the first hurdle; now auto OEMs must look to differentiate their Bluetooth offerings and offer additional hardware functionality other than just car kits."

ABI finds that once this next hurdle is cleared, the full potential for Bluetooth in the vehicle could begin to be realized. When Bluetooth is leveraged alongside other wireless technologies such as 802.11, a host of new and extensive offerings could be enabled in the vehicle for telematics, entertainment, and mobile commerce. According to the company's research, the global installed base of vehicles with factory-fitted Bluetooth hardware will reach nearly 22 million vehicles in 2008.

ABI also sees growth looking for the IEEE 802.16 metropolitan-area wireless broadband standard, popularly known as WiMax. Siemens and Alcatel, both major manufacturers of broadband infrastructure equipment, have pledged to produce equipment compatible with the 802.16 standard. Alcatel and Siemens have a long history of providing gear to large multinational carriers, and their recent announcements will bolster the WiMax cause. ABI believes that support from both large carriers and large diversified equipment manufacturers will be required if the WiMax industry is to achieve $1 billion in annual revenue by 2009. While many vendors have pledged support for WiMax, operators' plans for the technology remains guarded though actual spending on proprietary technologies surges.

Full-scale deployment for WiMax hinges on the availability of the Intel chipset, which, in volumes, makes for lower cost equipment. Initial chipset production quantities are expected in late 2004, with equipment available towards the middle of 2005. As vendors await the lower cost chips, demand for proprietary systems is set to grow by about 50% from 2003 to 2004, in unit terms. Early indications are showing growth across the board, but most typically in regions outside North America and Europe, ABI has found.

"With equipment prices comparable or sometimes cheaper to those initially promised by WiMax, the market for these technologies is growing at an incredibly fast clip," says Edward Rerisi of ABI. "However, in the end, WiMax is poised to win, eclipsing spending on proprietary technologies by the decade's end." Support for WiMax among manufacturers large and small is building and driving demand away from some third-generation (3G) cellular and Wi-Fi applications, but the primary market will be the sweet spot between the speed of Wi-Fi and the range of a cellular base station. In the end, the largest threat is to the demand for landlines, not 3G or Wi-Fi, ABI says.

Gartner: Cell Phones with Cameras Pose Business Risks

Businesses are concerned that camera phones can compromise their security and employees' privacy, and many businesses are trying to ban camera phones from their facilities. However, an outright ban of camera phones is shortsighted and hard to enforce, according to Gartner. By 2006, more than 80 percent of mobile phones shipped in the United States and Western Europe will have cameras. As camera phones account for a larger portion of the overall mobile phone market, companies will need to implement security programs that can realistically be managed.

"Most organizations simply don't have the staff or money to mount effective inspections," says Ken Dulaney, research vice president at Gartner. "Instead, businesses should designate secure zones where restrictions on these devices are tight and can be enforced. For other workplace areas, staff should be given guidelines about what is acceptable." Adds analyst Carolina Milanesi, "Usage guidelines will be far more effective than outright bans because it's not just the phones' cameras that could pose a security risk. For example, many phones can also record voices. Therefore, it's hard to decide where to draw a firm line about what can and can't be used at work." Above all, businesses must foster an internal culture that discourages the abuse of any technologies.


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