January 10, 2005
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

Technology News

The EPCglobal standards organization for radiofrequency identification (RFID) has ratified the UHF RFID Generation 2 air interface protocol specification, the communication protocol between the Electronic Product Code (EPC) tag and reader. This should make it easier for vendors and enterprises to deploy RFID transmitters and receivers across the supply chain.

Nextel and Research in Motion have announced plans to extend Nextel's wireless location applications to RIM's BlackBerry platform. They hope to encourage the development of location enhanced applications, such as navigation tools and tracking services, for Blackberry handhelds. If the partnership succeeds, future BlackBerry users will be able to access all the traditional BlackBerry wireless data services plus Global Positioning System (GPS) technology in a single device.

The ZigBee Alliance has approved the ZigBee standard for short-range wireless devices meant to transmit data among home appliances and commercial equipment. The ratification enshrines the ZigBee implementations previously under development by various alliance members and available in prerelease version from some of them.

Product News

Berkeley Varitronics Systems has released two products to help monitor and test wireless LANs. The Butterfly handheld power meter attaches directly to any access point or network interface card with an SMA external antenna connection and measures both 2.4GHz and 5.1GHz-5.9GHz UNI bands (I,II,III) standards for verification of power levels (0dBm to 30dBm). The Bumble Bee calibrated spectrum analyzer interfaces with Hewlett-Packard's iPaq Pocket PC to measures four wireless bands: 900MHz, 2.4GHz–2.5GHz, 5.1GHz–5.5GHz, and 5.5GHz–5.9GHz. Bumble Bee captures, displays, and records each of these bands for network installation, coverage, and interference analysis.

In wide-area wireless developments, Strix Systems has released the Access/One Network Outdoor Wireless System, a Wi-Fi cellular system designed for outdoor deployments in public safety, rural, and metropolitan area networks. It is used to create mesh networks used for metropolitan hot zones. Separately, Cranite Systems has upgraded its wireless LAN security software, WirelessWall 3.3, which now software automatically detects the network card during installation while continuing to offer network protection at Layer 2.

Barcoding Inc., a service provider of automated data collection and wireless communication systems, now offers the Wireless Network Analysis and Security Audit Service for Wi-Fi as part of the company's Wireless Builders division.The Wireless Builders division provides clients with site surveys, installation, integration, and repairs for data-collection products and wireless networks.

Linksys has a new line of 802.11g products, called Wireless-G with SRX, that the company says provides as much as three times the range and up to eight times the throughput than standard 802.11g products. To achieve these results, both client and server hardware must use the technology. Meanwhile, U.. Robotics says its new MaxG product line offers 50% greater range and 40% faster throughput over standard 802.11g products.

In other product news:

Hot-Spot News

The Chicago Public Library system's 79 locations now offer free wireless LAN services to Chicago residents, library personnel, and mobile city workers, using Airespace networking hardware.

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 Research: Upturn Seen in Handhelds as Wireless Is Added

A recovering economy, handheld devices for niche markets, and a bevy of new Wi-Fi–ready phones are creating positive synergies for Wi-Fi, predicts ABI Research. According to Lance Wilson, director of wireless research at ABI Research, a somewhat more bullish economy has prompted the company to raise its forecast for shipments of wireless handsets in 2004, compared to estimates made in the second quarter. At the same time, he says, we are seeing the beginning of a trend towards wireless devices — some not including any voice capabilities — aimed at specific niche markets.

One product he cites is the OGO, offered by Cingular.This handheld unit, with its service plan offering unlimited instant messaging and email at a modest cost, is aimed squarely at the youth market. With its big color screen, full keyboard, and robust construction, the OGO is, says Wilson, "a very high-quality piece of equipment."

Another example of a nonvoice product targeting a niche market is Nokia's N-Gage, a mobile multiplayer game deck with Bluetooth and GPRS capability, digital music player, stereo FM radio, MMS, email, and XHTML browser.

Philip Solis, ABI Research's senior analyst, wireless connectivity, adds that the final trend in this trio of convergence is the rapid rise we're about to see in the number of Wi-Fi–compatible cellular phones on the market. "Starting this year, and gaining momentum over the next two years, Wi-Fi–capable phones will ship in large and growing numbers," he says. "The number of embedded Wi-Fi chips sold will surpass that of Wi-Fi networking chipsets by 2006, and is forecast to account for more than twice as many units shipped by 2007."


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