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Wireless Valley Plans for the Future

Wireless software provider Wireless Valley this week announced at the Wi-Fi Planet Conference & Expo its strategic intent to extend its design software offerings to cover such emerging technologies as RFID, ZigBee, and WiMax.

"We have a commitment to our customers that we're always going to be in a leadership position in supporting the next generation wireless technologies that companies are going to deploy and adopt," says Jim Welch, the company's president and CEO.

Wireless Valley currently provides software solutions for a wide range of RF technologies from wireless LAN to CDMA – the company's EnterprisePlanner is a recent winner of a Wi-Fi Planet Best of Show award. "Any of the predominant wireless technologies that are out there today, you can plan and design your networks and manage them with Wireless Valley software," Welch says.

The company's software, Welch says, is focused on three key areas – design, planning, and management. Designing the network in advance, he says, can prevent a lot of headaches later. "We feel it's very critical that, as wireless networks become mission-critical components of the enterprise and for carriers, that you actually plan out the network deployments, what your expectations are, and how you want them to perform – as opposed to deploying a bunch of antennas and access points and just taking measurements," he says.

The same solutions can be used for ongoing management of the network. "Wireless networks are very dynamic, and there is a need for IT managers and facility owners to be able to manage the RF component of the network on an ongoing basis," he says. "Our software allows you to make predictions and simulations about how a network will perform if you make this change, or add this technology, or have 500 more users come in. You can run a lot of 'what-if' scenarios to understand how your network will perform, prior to deploying a bunch of hardware and spending a bunch of money."

The products, Welch says, work with any image of a company's facility, from a JPEG to an AutoCAD drawing, and turn it into a 3D representation.

"The ability to use this RF-intelligent map over and over again regardless of the wireless network you're working with is a huge time savings, and it's a huge asset for the IT manager who wants to have a consistent way to view their wireless network activity," he says.

The fact that the image is three-dimensional then allows an IT manager to view the coverage between floors. "In a wireless LAN, for example, access points leak between floors all the time," Welch says. "So understanding how the first floor AP impacts the second floor is critical in detecting interference, planning for interference, planning for the right coverage, and channel planning."

For technologies like RFID, ZigBee or WiMax, Welch says the same benefits apply. "Any time you deploy hardware, whether it's a WiMax solution or an RFID solution, and you're not sure of how the network will perform, you're spending money and taking somewhat of a risk," he says. "So you can get a lot of comfort about how you're going to deploy the network and that it will meet your needs, prior to doing the deployment."

The fact that this announcement focuses on RFID, ZigBee, and WiMax, Welch adds, doesn't mean that the company is limiting its future plans to those technologies. "These three technologies are the ones that we're going to be focusing on, but I'm sure there will be others that come out a year from now that we'll be talking about as well," he says.

Welch says solutions developed for the technologies will be released over the next three quarters, beginning Q1 2005. "It'll happen in stages," he says. "We'll start with initial support for the technologies – and then we'll expand that support, adding more management and visualization capabilities – but you'll see some things pretty quickly from us on the initial support for these networks."