RealTime IT News

Wi-Fi Product Watch: September 2005

Persona Software (formerly Longboard) has announced a new version of its SIP-based Persona OnePhone FMC (Fixed/Mobile Convergence) of cellular and Wi-Fi roaming when using voice communications. Version 2.0 now runs on more dual-mode product operating systems, including the Symbian OS, Micro Linux Mobile, and Windows Mobile 5.0. It continues to support Windows Mobile 2003. New features include call transfer, ring back, click-to-dial, and enhanced security such as IPSec support. It should be available to networking companies in mid-November.

Garderos Software Innovations of Munich, Germany has been taken over by Siemens, giving the latter's Wireless Integration Platform (WIP) a leg up with full operational support systems (OSS) from the Garderos WLAN software for billing, roaming and authentication of wireless broadband users. They say it will allow integration of not just Wi-Fi WLANs but of WiMax and Flash-OFDM networks as well.  

September 28, 2005

AuraOne Systems of Fremont, Calif., says its first product, the AuraGrid Wireless Extension System, is better than traditional signal boosters because it uses existing coaxial cable — the kind used to connect your cable TV set or satellite dish — to extend the network to "virtual AP" units with extra antennas, thereby extending the signal by using the same channel everywhere. It includes a four-port Wireless/TV duplexer, dual SMA-T connector, SMA-to-SMA dongle, and three virtual AP room antennas, all backed by a one year warranty. Price and availability were not announced.

Speaking of extenders, 5G Wireless Solutions says that the LongRanger (not "lone") product it is introducing will "extend the effective service range of its wireless broadband base stations" by making sure the client systems have a stronger return path signal. The LongRanger will come in a USB version as well as one that plugs in to an outlet — it won't require a PC Card slot in a laptop. Since it is 802.11b-compliant, 5G says it will help any client system attach to any 11b network, not just to 5G's systems.

Ekahau has a new software application for tracking Wi-Fi tags with its RTLS (Real Time Location System) called (wait for it) Ekahau Tracker. Tracker will turn data received into "actionable information" -- setting off alerts based on rules pre-set in the software, for example. It will hold historical tracking data to help analyze workflow using built-in statistical tools. It even tracks people: the company has deployed the software at a Veterans Home in King, Wisconsin, where all the longterm patients wear a Wi-Fi tag with a call button for alerting the system, as well as for keeping tabs on their location.

Jambo Networks (named for a Swahili word meaning "hello") made the scene last March as a solution that lets people find like-minded folks on a network — specifically a Wi-Fi-based network — and make a virtual introduction. Users need to download the software and create a profile for it to work, though the company says the point is to get people to interact directly, rather than on the computer. The service has been deployed by Concourse Communications in its hotspot at La Guardia Airport in New York City. Jambo says travelers can download the software and use it on the ground, then take it offline and use it on flights as well.  

In-Stat says things will be rosy for the WiMax market in the Asia-Pacific region. The base of subscribers using the technology will go from 80,000 this year to 3.8 million by 2009 — that will account for 45 percent of the total world users of WiMax.  Korea (with its use of the WiBro flavor of WiMax), China and Japan will lead the way. Total spending expected by 2009 on WiMax is just south of $2 billion (US).

September 27, 2005

With Google joining the Wi-Fi hotspot hosted VPN game, JiWire — which has such a service itself, called SpotLock — isn't resting on its laurels. The hotspot directory provider today announced the WiFi Toolbar, a browser add-on that includes all the stuff you get in the separate SpotLock utility: access to the directory of 70,000 hotspot locations, connection status, and the ability to turn on the secure SpotLock VPN tunnel. The toolbar (like the SpotLock utility software) is free, but it costs $5 per month (or $50 per year) to use the JiWire VPN (Google's is, so far, free). Right now, the toolbar is limited to Firefox for Windows, but will be available in versions for for IE, Firefox for MacOS X, and Safari soon.

Worried that your future DLNA products might not have interoperable Wi-Fi? (Oh, yeah, the DLNA is the Digital Living Network Alliance, which has a certification/logo program for interoperability of home networked devices.) Worry no more — from now on, any product using 802.11 technology looking for DLNA certification is required to be certified by the Wi-Fi Alliance first. Big names support the DLNA, including Intel, HP, Sony, Sharp, Lenovo, TI, Toshiba, Samsung, Philips and Motorola, to name just a handful.

D-Link is releasing a new Internet Camera with 3G capability. The wireless surveillance tool uses Ethernet or 802.11b/g, and the live feed it provides can be monitored from cellular phones on a 3G network. The fixed lens camera has 640x480 resolution with JPEG or MPEG-4 compression. It can be monitored from a phone or on a computer with streaming media like RealPlayer or QuickTime 6.5.  The camera will come with surveillance software for Windows, which can control up to 16 cameras.

Interlink Networks' LucidLink software for building quick authentication into networks of all sizes, without a dedicated 802.1X server, has been upgraded to version 2.4. It now supports WPA2, the Wi-Fi Alliance's version of the 802.11i specification, plus "machine authentication." Now multiple users can use the same computer with a common security credential they all share, so it only uses one license seat for the software (important because the pricing for the software is based on the number of "users"). Users don't even have to sign on -- the laptop will be pre-authenticated, though VPNs and other services won't turn on until a user is identified.  Purchased on the Web site, a three-user license is $149, scaling all the way up to 250 users at $5,495.

Better late than never: the Kodak EasyShare-One digital camera — which was announced back in January and, more importantly, which supports Wi-Fi via an SD card — is now shipping, says the Rochester, New York-based company. The Wi-Fi is used to transfer pictures off the camera, and it will come with a trial subscription to T-Mobile Hotspots. You can use the public access Wi-Fi they provide to upload pictures from the camera to the Internet to share via e-mail or in the Kodak EasyShare Gallery (formerly Ofoto.com). The camera is for sale for $599 (including Wi-Fi card) at Circuit City, CompUSA, and Ritz Camera in the U.S.

Netgear's latest in the Prosafe line is the 802.11g Wireless VPN Firewall 8 (model FVG318). It can handle remote management via SNMP, and will serve as an endpoint for up to eight VPN tunnels coming in from remote users, specifically those using the ProSafe VPN Client Software (VPN01L/VPN05L) and ProSafe Network Management Software (NMS100). On the wired side, it sports an 8-port 10/100 switch. Security, of course, runs the gamut, from 802.11i/WPA2 Enterprise to 256-bit AES, a dual firewall (NAT/SPI), VPN pass-through support, intrusion detection, URL keyword filtering, and more. List price is $181.

Columbitech's Wireless VPN solution is not just for Wi-Fi any more. The company said today that a WiMax-ready VPN is ready for testing with equipment makers. The company also offers secure VPN connections with seamless roaming on Bluetooth, 3G and GSM networks.

September 26, 2005

3Com has released a branch/remote office wireless switch, plus a new managed access point (3Com calls it a "fit" AP, instead of "thin"). The $999 WXR100 Remote Office Wireless LAN Switch features a Web Quick Start for fast deployment where employees can't handle complicated setups, though it can also be "drop-shipped" preconfigured. It has one Power over Ethernet port and one non-PoE port, but can run up to three of the fit APs, among them the new $499 Managed Access Point 3750, which has dual radios to support 802.11a and 11b/g. It looks like a smoke detector, in order to help it blend into office surroundings. The company's standard or "thick" Wi-Fi APs can also be set up to work with the switch in a managed AP mode; the switch will even support third party APs like those from Cisco or D-Link using SNMP control.

smartBridges has released the airClient Nexus PRO TOTAL, a CPE device for service providers to sell to customers that need to get wireless broadband access (WBA). It uses the smartBridges Nexus platform, an 802.11-based point-to-multipoint WBA tech the company developed that runs in the unlicensed 2.4 and 5.2-5.8GHz frequency bands. The software in the unit can switch frequencies back and forth as needed. Earlier this month, the company launched the airHaul2 Nexus PRO with dual radios, which it can use in tandem to get a 45Mbps data rate at a distance of 60 miles in repeater mode.

LXE's new MX7 Handheld Computer for use in warehouses and distribution centers runs Windows CE on an Intel Xscale, with 802.11b/g and Bluetooth as an option. It includes a bar code reader that can supposedly read codes from as far away as 40 feet, with vibration feedback, voice recognition, and programmable function keys.

Atheros wants some attention for its MIMO efforts, so today it said Atheros Super G "combined with Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) coverage enhancements" are selling more than any other MIMO products. To get this majority for the last eight weeks (as counted by NPD TechWorld), the company is including Netgear's RangeMax product line, which is using the MIMO smart antenna system called BeamFlex from Ruckus Networks (formerly Video54). Only D-Link's Super G products are using Atheros the whole way.

In related MIMO news, DigiTimes says the group that Atheros joined, along with Intel, Broadcom and Marvell, to put forth a new proposal for the 802.11n specification — and thus to delay what's already on the table— is called the Enhanced Wireless Alliance (EWA). It's generally believed that EWA is  an effort to block competition from Airgo Networks, which often trumpets its sales of MIMO products just like Atheros did today.

BelAir Networks, which makes mesh hardware, has entered a strategic partnership with PacketHop, which makes instant-mesh software  for wireless products, specifically targeting first responders. They'll be co-marketing their products to police, fire and emergency services, to show that they make products that are "synergistic and non-competitive."

AirMagnet's wireless intrusion prevention system (IPS), specifically the AirMagnet Enterprise SmartEdge Sensor and its software algorithms, is the first product in the IPS category to become Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 140-2 compliant.

PanGo Networks has upgraded its location management platform to version 3.0. The PanOS works with the PanGo Locator asset tracking application and the company's Active RFID Tags, which use 802.11b/g for tracking and monitoring equipment and workflow. PanOS is used by developers to integrate location abilities into customers' existing systems.

Intel's latest advertising campaign for Centrino Wi-Fi kicks off today with a look at how great it can be for entertainment on laptops. Called "In your lap," it features actors, singers and sports pros shown interacting with people in place of laptops.... that's right, the celebs will be on the users' laps. That's great for the guy with Lucy Liu on his lap, but who among us wants John Cleese on their pants?

September 23, 2005

Panasonic's ToughBooks are joining the throng of vendors this week announcing advanced 3G connections will be embedded. Specifically the rugged CF-18 and CF-29 and "semi-rugged" CF-73 will be the available with Verizon Wireless BroadbandAccess (EV-DO) support built in, using a Sierra Wireless module. Those models will also be available with the option of EDGE. All have Centrino chipsets from Intel to get them on the Wi-Fi nets, too.

SIPquest is now shipping client software called Dual Mode Client (DMC)  for seamless use on either Wi-Fi networks or cellular networks, using the same phone number. They're selling it to service providers and equipment makers.

Netherlands-based Hopling Technologies said this month that it will be using chips from Fujitsu Microelectronics Europe in its 802.16-2005/WiMax products, under the name HopMAX. The company also makes software for mesh-based public access hotspots (HopWARE v 2.3) which supports multiple SSIDs and VLANs;

September 21, 2005

Remember WiFlyer from Always On Wireless, the little travel router geared toward getting your wireless equipment on the Internet in places where dial-up was the only option? In November, it will be joined by the WiFlyer+v. The "v" stands for voice. It comes with a $12.95-per-month fee for WiFlyer Phone Service that lets you make unlimited domestic phone calls over your Wi-Fi equipment using softphones. The hardware costs $150 without voice turned on, or $90 if you activate the service.

Roku SoundBridge RadioRoku's SoundBridge Radio is a self-contained wireless audio unit -- it even builds in the speakers (and subwoofer) to look just like, yes, a radio. Which it is. It supports AM/FM, and even has an alarm. But like previous Roku SoundBridge products, it also supports digital streaming audio from your computer (podcasts, anyone?) or music streamed from the Internet. It plays a number of audio file formats and works with files downloaded from Napster and Rhapsody (and even iTunes, though only for files without Digital Rights Management (DRM) embedded). The product is coming in November for $399, but you get $50 off if you order before Oct. 31 online.  

Cisco says that under new rules for Software Defined Radios set by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), its own 802.11a radios will be the first certified SDR Wi-Fi products. This means the current radios in the Cisco Aironet 1240AG Series access points, using 12 channels in 5GHz frequency UNII-band, can be upgraded in the field to run 11 more channels between 5.4 and 5.7GHz.

AirDefense has released version 2.1 of its AirDefense Personal software, meant for use on personal Windows XP laptops to protect them from "identity theft, evil twin attacks and denial of service attacks" at hotspots.  Users set up their own personal security policy, and if the software sees something wonky, it will shut down the connection. The software is free for download by individuals (use a real e-mail address when signing up, as they mail you the download link), but it also integrates with AirDefense Enterprise for those running that on the corporate network.

Iogear is selling a new, inexpensive ($30) keychain Wi-Fi detector. The new Wi-Fi Finder is only 2.34 in x 0.35 in x 1.25 in, and like other signal detectors in this price range, it's quite simple: it uses four LEDs to show you the strength of signal in your vicinity.

Broadcom has a new single chip for VoWi-Fi in phones that it also hopes to push into consumer electronics for wireless video. The BCM1161 is their second-generation chip for VoIP  use in low-power devices. It has multimedia-specific features such as polyphonic ringtone support, voice and video recording and playback, a 2-megapixel camera, and telephony features like three-way conference and speakerphone support. The company also offers a VoWi-Fi phone reference design (BCM91161) to help vendors speed up the process of making SIP-based phones. The chips are available now.

Legerity of Austin, Texas is also touting a VoWi-Fi chipset this week (all part of the VON Conference in Boston). The company's Le8100 Handset System-on-Chip (SoC) includes a WiFi Software Package which can be set up with an "off-the-shelf WiFi radio module" that "yields the market's most integrated and cost-effective VoIP-enabled WiFi handset," according to the company. The chips are sampling now with select customers.

Chipsets usually spread out on a circuit board, but Atheros is working its way "up." The company is partnering with Spansion, a maker of Flash memory components (jointly owned by AMD and Fujitsu), to stack chips instead, increasing the memory without spreading out.  It's called Package-on-Package (POP). Specifically, they're combining the Atheros ROC (Radio-on-Chip) with Spansion's MirrorBit Flash to offer 802.11a/g and 11g chips with high memory to handset makers. Both measure 12 mm by 12 mm, with the Spansion memory sitting physically on top of the ROC.

AirMagnet is integrating its distributed Enterprise software with ArcSight's Enterprise Security Manager (ESM) to give customers a single console for wired and wireless security threats. Both companies plan to co-promote the move to customers.

Rotani this week released AirReferee, a Wi-Fi access point technology meant to make OEM equipment immune to interference from the outside using multiple radios and antennas (which we profiled back in July). The reference design for OEMs and ODMs is available for licensing now.

September 15, 2005

Someday soon, maybe we'll be able to say, "remember when cable meant 'wires?'" That's because Scientific-Atlanta, maker of equipment for the cable/fiber optic industry, is going to start selling Tropos Networks' MetroMesh products. They'll even make fiber converters for the 5210 MetroMesh router. SA says this move will let cable operators provide wireless mobility for entire cities. For the end of the year, SA is working on "hardened optical and coaxial backhaul solutions" that will run the Tropos equipment... so I guess there are still going to be some cables.

The incredibly popular and ubiquitous Linksys Wireless-G Routers (WRT54G and WRT54GS) can now be used as access points for hotspot networks run by Sputnik. The company has Sputnik Agent firmware specifically for those models, which turns them into units controllable remotely from the Sputnik Control Center management software. One of the first companies to use the flashed routers is Nova-Tech Innovations, which used Sputnik software and Linksys equipment to install service at Holiday Inn Express locations.

September 13, 2005

Linksys has a new MIMO router on the way, cheaper than previous products. The ^107PanOS108^2 Wireless-G Broadband Router with SRX200 goes for $99 (street). It effectively replaces the ^110PanOS111^, which sold for $140. The difference is that the new unit runs the new, lower-cost MIMO chips from Airgo Networks.

Fiberlink is very happy to report that it's making more money -- the company had 85 percent revenue growth in the first half of this year -- by embracing the "software as a service" strategy. Instead of just charging users for access to the Internet (via hotspots, 3G, Ethernet, dial-up, etc.), the company instead drove people to pay for its Extend360 solution, selling 230,000 seats of the mobility software to corporate customers.

Ember says the ZigBee platform it created with Texas Instruments will be on sale to OEMs next month. It's good for new low-power ZigBee products, and can also be used to build ZigBee support into existing products using the TI MCU.

The Wi-Fi Alliance is now testing 802.11 products for interoperability in a new lab: the China National Telecommunication Metrology Station (CNTMS), a sub-unit of the China Academy of Telecommunication Research (CATR). The CNTMS joins with eight other labs around the world that the Alliance uses for testing, though it's the first in China -- a place many consider the major growth market for the future of wireless networking and telecommunications.

Berkeley Varitronics Systems says its new Caterpillar is a "low-cost, handheld sweeping analyzer." You hook it directly to an access point or card or whatever via the included SMA antenna connection kit and use that hardware to check 802.11a/b/g networks for frequency power and other attributes. It goes for $750.

September 12, 2005

AirMagnet has introduced new ruggedized sensors for outdoor use with its distributed Enterprise WLAN analysis product. These SmartEdge sensors scan continuously. They're waterproof, temperature proof (-4 to 150 degrees F), have Power over Ethernet, and use an Intel Xscale processor. They're available now and can be added to existing AirMagnet Enterprise deployments as needed to extend monitoring.

ARC Advisory Group has a report out that spells out exactly what ZigBee is, what it does, and, oh yeah, why it is "not a perfect fit for industrial applications." Actually, the report ($495 from ARC) apparently praises that  technology (plus others that run on 802.15.4), as well as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and the eventuality of Ultrawideband. But it also apparently points out that open standards are better.

802.11 test equipment provider Azimuth Systems has a new platform, the W-Series, with the 301W desktop chassis. It uses their STM-501 module for testing "roaming, performance, functionality and range," according to the company. The Azimuth software has been upgraded to test VoWi-Fi for clarity and repeatability. Vendors can use other new features to stress-test a new product. Customers can also get a full suite of scripts used by the Wi-Fi Alliance for interoperability testing of products, so they can use Azimuth equipment to pre-test for things like WPA2/802.11i security  and WMM Quality of Service (QoS) before submitting products.  

Gizmodo reports that Hewlett-Packard (HP) is planning to put out an LCD-TV model next year with integrated Wi-Fi. The line of panels (26, 32 and 37 inches, measured diagonally) will have a "wireless networking antenna" to connect back to a PC/router that you use as a media server.

Why wait for official WiMax tests? Airspan uses chips from both Intel (in its EasyST and ProST CPEs) and Sequans (in its AS.MAX MicroMAX-SOC base station), and says it has tested them and determined that the products work together flawlessly. Which is a big relief for everyone who thought that two wireless products from one company using a new wireless technology might NOT work together. Whew. Airspan and Sequans worked together on the test to reach a "level of system maturity and compliancy with IEEE 802.16-2004 that will allow Airspan to rapidly achieve certification," according to the companies. WiMax testing is underway (or will be soon) in Spain.

InfiNet Wireless has FCC approval for its 4.9GHz wireless routers. 4.9 is the frequency reserved for first responders. InfiNet Wireless Series 5000 routers can handle  point-to-point and point-to-multipoint connections, so users can be stationary or roaming. The company is also working with Continental Wireless as a VAR for its broadband wireless and public safety radios.

September 9, 2005

Ikarus OS is an embedded operating systems designed for Wi-Fi network equipment from AntCor of Patras, Greece. The software turns equipment into a "dedicated router with concurrent triple-band Wi-Fi" (802.11a/b/g) if the radios are present, as well as other features like firewall and bandwidth management. An Ikarus OS Manager provides GUI remote control of an infrastructure setup with the software. The software is geared toward OEMs for service providers, telecoms and their partners, and AntCor will offer customized versions for ODMs and OEMs that are interested.

September 8, 2005

Forward Concepts predicts in a new report that WLAN equipment sales will increase 6 percent to $5.2 billion in 2005 -- despite a 23 percent drop in selling price, on average. The growth will continue in 2006, especially as 802.11n and VoWi-Fi equipment usage increases. WiMax equipment will go from $72 million this year to $2 billion by 2009. 802.16e (mobile WiMax) will make it even better, but analyst Carter L. Horney says 16e "will augment the Wi-Fi infrastructure that will remain dominant for several years."

The AiroPeek VX v1.0 Expert VoWiFi (Voice over Wireless) analyzer is now available from WildPackets. The software will show all the active calls on a network, do voice quality assessment, and more. The company has also made upgrades to the AiroPeek SE and NX WLAN analyzers. VX and NX both include the company's Visual Expert tech to break down communications on a LAN to its constituent components.

The soon-to-debut Kodak EasyShare One camera (coming in October 2005), which will have Wi-Fi support through an SD card, will not be alone. The companion EasyShare Photo Printer 500 will also support Wi-Fi with a similar card (as well as Bluetooth), so you can make wireless transfers from camera to printer without needing a computer in between. The printer has a 3.5-inch LCD preview screen, and spits out 4x6-inch color prints. If you don't do the wireless, the 500 will also support the EasyShare dock, which costs $179.

Wireless Builders of Baltimore, a division of Barcoding Inc., has released a Linux-based wireless IDS (intrusion detection system). It uses "wireless drones" to create a network for detecting signals within the workplace, and a GPS module to find the source. It doesn't prevent wireless intrusion, however -- it just alerts network admins, who then have to track down the offending node.

Alvarion has made its WiMax-ready customer premises equipment (CPE) available for order. The BreezeMAX Pro uses Intel's WiMax silicon; Alvarion says it is the first CPE to do so.

AirTight Networks, a member of Cisco's Technology Development Partnership Program,  says it has integrated its SpectraGuard Enterprise Wi-Fi IPS (intrusion prevention system) Firewall with Cisco's WLSE. Cisco has built-in IDS (intrusion detection), but AirTight says it can track down intruders and shut down ports they might be using, all through WLSE. The upgrade to work with WLSE should be available to SpectraGuard users this month.

September 6, 2005

ZyXEL is the latest company to announce MIMO products, these based on the Atheros smart antenna version of the technology. The company calls the tech 802.11g XtremeMIMO Wireless. The product line will consist of the X-550 router for $160, M-102 CardBus adapter for $120, and M-202 USB adapter for $110. The router also uses the StreamEngine Quality of Service (QoS) technology from Ubicom to prioritize application traffic in order to reduce latency, and is the first product out with Microsoft Connect Now, a sort of souped-up UPnP for connecting peripherals to the network. Security coverage extends up to WPA with 802.1X authentication. The products will be out in mid-October.

Tektronix is the first company to offer a handheld tester that will check High Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA), a WCDMA 3G technology. The NetTeck Wireless RF Field Tester can support the measurement of HSDPA signals using a new software option. The hardware can also check EDGE, 1x EV-DO, CDMA2000, GSM and other technologies in the air.

Want to share USB devices with everyone on your network, without the icky wires? You don't have to wait for Wireless USB based on ultrawideband (UWB) if you use the new silex SX-2000WG. It’s a USB 2.0 Wireless Device Server with 802.11g built in -- plug it into a USB device of your choice, and it becomes a network asset. The company says it works with most USB products, from printers to scanners to hard drives and more. It costs $150 and supports WEP and WPA-PSK, but only connects with computers running Windows 2000/XP for now.

September 2, 2005

Networking company Netgear is the latest to join the WiMax Forum, the group driving the IEEE 802.16 specification into interoperable WiMax-branded products. Netgear joined as a principal member, unique for a company that primarily provides equipment for home networks and small businesses. The announcement states that Netgear "will design and manufacture innovative solutions tailored for portable and mobile use in a WiMAX environment, including routers, gateways, cards, and other access devices."

TRENDware has expanded its line of TRENDnet Wi-Fi signal detectors. The new TEW-509UB will detect 802.11a networks in addition to 11b/g. (The TEW-429UB handles just 11b/g). Each features an LCD display screen to show info on found networks, such as signal strength, SSID, encryption type (WEP, WPA or WPA2), the channel used, and how much battery life is left. Each product will also work as a USB Wi-Fi adapter. The new detector will sell for $90, starting in about three weeks; the 11b/g version sells for $75.