RealTime IT News

Wi-Fi Product Watch: September 2006

Companies like Cisco and Motorola are sponsoring a new Web site called UMA Today, which they call a "complete source of information on the UMA market." UMA, short for Unlicensed Mobile Access, is a tech that allows calls to hand off between a cellular network and a Wi-Fi network, requiring a phone that supports both types. It's growing in popularity overseas, and there's at least one trial of it in the United States with a major carrier. Check the site out for a central repository on all things UMA.

Berkeley Varitronics Systems (BVS) has a new wideband spectrum analysis tool, BumbleBee-EX, now supporting WiMax analysis. It measures frequencies between 2.0 - 4.0 GHz and 4.9 - 5.9 GHz, used by 802.16 WiMax, 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, among other technologies. They'll be showing it next month at WiMax World in Boston.

September 26, 2006

In August, Crutchfield's catalog leaked info about the Sirius Stilletto 100, a new portable unit that will not only stream Sirius satellite radio from satellites, but will also do it via Wi-Fi at home or at hotspots. Think of it as TiVo for satellite radio, as it will also record 100 hours of audio programming. The company confirmed it today, including the ability to record up to six-hour scheduled recordings and up to 10 hours of individual songs (hit the "love" button when you hear a favorite), for up to 100 total hours, all taken from the live satellite radio broadcasts. Your own WMA and MP3 files can also be stored and played back; the unit works with software from Sirius and the Yahoo Music Jukebox to manage your MP3 files. Price is cheaper than expected at $350 MSRP. Separate vehicle kit and home kits are $70 each, plus the executive system with extra accessories will be $150. It probably won't ship until early October.

Swedish carrier TeliaSonera will be using Kineto Wireless' Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) technology to deliver GSM-to-Wi-Fi hand-off services in the Baltic and Nordic regions, part of TeliaSonera's "Home Free" service. They've been testing it for about a year. The first phone to use it will be the Samsung P200.

ABI Research says in a new study that a sea change is coming to consumer electronics as they move to using Wi-Fi for delivery of content as needed. The research firm expects that the 40 million CE devices with Wi-Fi this year will balloon to 249 million by 2011. Today, most of the products are game consoles like those from Nintendo and Sony; ABI sees Microsoft's handheld music player with Wi-Fi, the Zune, as signaling the "beginning of a large scale movement towards embedded Wi-Fi in portable media players," a move already embraced by camera makers like Kodak, Nikon and Canon.

Colubris Networks' new Integrated Sensor/AP, the MAP-330, has a dual radio design, with one radio for monitoring and the other for delivering network access to clients, all the better to prevent network quality interruption by having an AP trip over into intermittent security scans. It costs less than doing a sensor overlay on top of APs. The MAP-330 works with the Colubris Intelligent Mobility System (CIMS) WLAN switching system.

Axis Communications has a new network camera, the AXIS 207MW, that hooks to wired or wireless networks for remote monitoring. It even supports WPA2 encryption. The camera delivers MPEG-4 and Motion JPEG images up to 1280x1024 resolution, approximately 1.3 megapixel, and has a built-in microphone. Axis calls it the smallest one-megapixel camera around. It should be available in October for $400. Axis this week entered a strategic partnership with Firetide to provide video surveillance over wireless mesh networks, the first deployment of which just launched in Haverhill, Massachusetts. That setup uses AXIS 214 PTZ (pan-tilt-zoom) and AXIS 211 fixed cameras.

TRENDnet has new network attached storage (NAS) server enclosures that work with 3.5-inch IDE hard drives and connect via either wired (model TS-I300 for $130) or wireless 802.11b/g (TS-I300W for $170). They also have USB 2.0 ports to connect other external drives such as Flash or SATA drives. They come with digital media and backup software from Nero.

September 22, 2006

Helium Networks' latest, SiteStumbler, is a $995 "entry-level" site survey/audit program for mapping 802.11a/b/g networks and creating simulations of how they'll perform. They describe it as incorporating "a proprietary version of the popular NetStumbler for superior wireless data collection." A free seven-day demo is available for download.

The folks at Champaign-Urbana Community Wireless Network (CUWiN) announced earlier this week the release of an update to the open-source, community-network-oriented, wireless mesh software CUWiNware, to version 0.7.0. It now has dual-radio support, one for access and another for mesh backhaul, improved routing, support for Atheros chips (specifically, the AR5312 Wireless SoC) and other new hardware, as well as a Web-based user interface, among other improvements. The city of Urbana is converting its current CUWiN nodes with one radio into dual-radio units, putting the free software to the test.

September 19, 2006

Network Chemistry has upgraded its RFprotect Distributed product with a new dashboard and Web-based interface, as well as better integration with the RFprotect Endpoint software running on laptops. Now, when a user with Endpoint enters the network, RFprotect Distributed sensors will automatically see them and classify the user as authorized. Endpoint continues to disable bridging automatically, in case a user gets an ad hoc connection from outside that might want to connect to the wired side of the network. Network Chemistry, which designs its own sensors, has also upgraded software to take preventative measures against rogues and other unwanted devices, blocking them from accessing the network infrastructure. The capacity is also up — each sensor can now contain/restrict multiple devices, not just one-on-one. All the upgrades are available now and free to current users.

Sputnik has a new product, the $499 Gateway 700, plus new software, the Sputnik Agent NMS. 700 works with Sputnik Control Center or SputnikNet to handle user tracking and authentication at hotspots; NMS is a firmware upgrade for various Wi-Fi access points (including models from Asus, Buffalo, Linksys, Motorola and Siemens) to let them be run by Control Center — it integrates with the popular DD-WRT firmware upgrade for Linux-based APs. Agent NMS lacks the user authentication found in the standard and pro versions, but it is free.

Belden has announced a new WLAN system, the Belden Wireless Solution, using a "Channel Blanket" topology that allows use of almost all radio channels on each AP. The higher the traffic, the higher the throughput, they say. It fully complies with 802.11a/b/g and WPA2 for security. The line consists of switches (8- and 24-port) with Power over Ethernet (PoE), a 'thin' AP (model BWAP-200) that requires no configuration, and management software.

Xirrus was issued a patent last month (United States Patent Number US D526,973 S) by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that covers the design of the physical housing of its Wi-Fi Array, which can pack in 4, 8, or 16 radios with a Gigabit Switch in a ceiling mounted unit. That product, or specifically the XS-3x00 family, according to a report by the Tolly Group, provides 2.5x the range and 13x the throughput of TCP traffic of "leading enterprise access point tested."

PePLink's latest is the Balance & Surf Combo, a wireless indoor bridge for citywide Wi-Fi networks and existing wired broadband. It comes with a Surf 200BG to connect to wireless via a 200mW radio and a Balance 30 unit to connect to Ethernet-based broadband. The Balance 30 combines the wired throughput with the wireless to boost the overall performance. The products are also sold separately, but you'll want to look for them through your local wireless broadband provider if you have one.

September 13, 2006

Trusted Computing Group, the industry group backing the network access control (NAC) architecture called Trusted Network Connect (TNC), has new members -- including big wireless players like Meru Networks and Trapeze Networks. Meru will run TNC across all its products as a complement to its own Security Services Module. Trapeze says it's supporting TNC by working with the policy enforcement platform "and wireless access based on client's health or configuration."

They don't mention numbers, but the CDMA Development Group (CDG) says more EV-DO modems have sold than were expected. EV-DO is the wireless wide area network (WWAN)/3G tech powering the data networks of Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel in various cities around the U.S. This is due to major notebook vendors like Dell, HP, Lenova, Panasonic and Toshiba embedding EV-DO support.

Nevada-based AirTegrity Wireless has built support for 900 MHz and 4.9 GHz (for public safety) wireless into its products (APs, base stations and CPEs) for use by ISPs, adding to its established support for Wi-Fi under 2.4 and 5.8GHz. Units run at 400mW for increased power, and can scale up to support thousands of simultaneous users.

September 12, 2006

Trade shows this week (CTIA Wireless IT & Entertainment 2006 in Los Angeles and Fall 2006 VON in Boston) mean a slew of mostly unrelated announcements for a Tuesday:

It's not a surprise, as the Wi-Fi Alliance said this was coming as long ago as April, but today it announced officially that it is working with CTIA - The Wireless Association on joint testing documents that ensure mobile technologies like GSM, CDMA, EV-DO and more work seamlessly with Wi-Fi (especially since more and more products are converging Wi-Fi with these technologies). CTIA says it will help carriers determine the best dual-mode phones to pick for use on their networks. The tests will cover transmit and emitted power and receive sensitivity of products — and those products have to be Wi-Fi Certified and CTIA certified as well, of course.

Paragon Wireless says it is ready to launch a SIP-based Wi-Fi (802.11b/g) phone that also supports quad-band GSM (850/900/1800/1900) and GPRS. The phone, called hipi-2200, will be licensed to OEMs and ODMs, and probably will debut in Europe first (it takes a SIM card). Paragon makes dual-mode voice tech that handles seamless hand-off between the two types of mobile networks. The phone runs Windows Mobile 5.0 and thus also supports Web browsing, music play and recording of voice or video. The reported battery life is 4 hours of talk and 100 hours in standby, even with both Wi-Fi and GSM radios turned on.  

Wi-Fi tester Azimuth Systems is ready to check on Wi-Fi handsets. On October 10, the company will make available a new test suite for testing VoWi-Fi handset power use, battery life, voice quality, signal range and roaming performance (using motion emulation). It runs on the Azimuth W-Series platform in radio-signal proof enclosures, as do all Azimuth scripts.

If you wanted to enter the contest to build an application that uses the Wi-Fi Positioning System (WPS) set up by Skyhook Wireless, well, you're too late. The company announced three finalists today (the winner gets a Segway Human Transporter). The products include a game that builds in location data called Plundr that mimics marauding pirates but in real-world locations; an auto-location extension for the Firefox and Minimo browsers (Skyhook already makes a Firefox toolbar called Loki); and a location stamp that will work with the future Eye-Fi cards that will wirelessly enable digital cameras.

Xirrus says it is offering new enclosures for its Wi-Fi Array products, including a new outdoor box suitable for campus or metropolitan deployments — the XE-4000, which looks like a street light. The array can deliver a half-mile range with aggregate wireless capacity of 648 Megabits per second. The new tamper-proof XE-2000 is for indoors, and mounts on a ceiling where you'd find a drop-down ceiling tile measuring 2x2 feet.

Broadcom revealed today that its AirForce One 54g Wi-Fi and VoIP phone chips are in new small business and consumer phones from Samsung. The models are the SMT-W5100 for businesses and the SMT-W6100 for consumers (used by Net2Phone), out now in North America.

England's CSR has launched a VoIP phone called UniVox that uses its own UniFi-1 Portable Wi-Fi chip, which CSR will license to manufacturers— the cost to build it could be as low as $35. The design can supposedly do 20 hours talk time and 400 hours in standby from a single charge. Production-ready units won't arrive until end of 2006.

After a few months as vaporware, Netgear said today that it is now shipping the Netgear Wi-Fi Phone for Skype. The SPH101 — which has been pre-selling for a while on sites like Amazon, with numbers Netgear calls "impressive," will cost $250 MSRP and doesn't need a computer to make a Skype call, just an open Wi-Fi connection for the phone. It will be available overseas in October.

Kineto Wireless, one of the big providers of the Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) technology powering networks with seamless roaming from cellular 2G and 3G networks to Wi-Fi networks and back again, is teaming with Ubiquisys in the UK to make low-cost femtocell access point products supporting the UMA standard as outlined by the 3GPP. It will be something operators around the world can use to build UMA networks. Ubiquisys makes the ZoneGate femtocell system, and they say this will let operators "fully realize the coverage, capacity and cost benefits of femtocells."

September 7, 2006

The TV dream — a digital video recorder (DVR) that will stream content to other sets in your house using Wi-Fi — is not a dream any more, if you live in the Netherlands. CanalDigital satellite TV providers will be offering a Caton V2O Wireless Home Media Network set-top box soon that has an Airgo Networks True MIMO Media chip inside. Get a couple of "slave" boxes to hook to other TVs in the house, and you're watching pre-recorded shows anywhere without stringing wires. Select CanalDigital customers can get the box later this year as part of a trial run.

AirMagnet's Enterprise Analyzer is now ready to troubleshoot networks running the Aruba Mobility software version 2.5.3, using Aruba's own APs when in either AP mode or air monitoring mode. The former provides a data feed about a single Wi-Fi channel, while the latter allows complete analysis. Cost for the integrated AirMagnet Analyzer is $9,995.

September 6, 2006

AirMagnet's Survey product made the jump to version 4.0 this week and brought with it a new product called AirMagnet Planner to help businesses decide where to place nodes for an indoor WLAN. Planner is also available as a separate, standalone product that sells for $2,000 ($1,000 as an upgrade for Survey users). Survey already integrates with the AirMagnet Spectrum Analyzer 2.0 and works with Microsoft MapPoint; the latest version will integrate with AirMagnet Laptop Analyzer and build in support for maps from Google Earth, all the better for planning an outdoor network. The product can take GPS information and drill down to the street level to check for good wireless coverage. Survey 4.0 will control roaming in active surveys, taking control of the client's Wi-Fi driver and forcing it to roam as needed (most cards stick with the strongest signal even when not appropriate). Survey costs $1,995 for the standard edition or $3,695 for the PRO version.

F3000.jpgUTStarcom's latest Wi-Fi handset, the F3000, is now available in Europe. The clamshell phone comes in black or gold, each with a 1.8-inch full-color LCD screen, polyphonic ringtones, talk time of three hours or 75 hours of standby without recharge. It supports SIP (it will store info on three different SIP accounts), SDP, RTP/RTCP and RFC 2833/inband DTMF, and utilizes ITU codecs G.711 and G.729 on 802.11b/g networks, with security including WPA support. It will auto-search for a Wi-Fi network and store profiles on those you want to use most often.

Garderos Software Innovations has released new software for wireless broadband providers to enhance Wi-Fi support and offer WiMax as well. Its C-OSS platform (carrier operational support software) will allow secure authentication of users, including those using SIM card modules. Its RADIUS access controller supports VLANs and zones. The new Multi-Protocol Access Controller (MPAC) will let WiMax operators allow subscriber authentication right at the base station.

Airgo Networks' True MIMO Media chips are part of the power behind a new reference design called SimpleWare Home. Along with chips from STMicroelectronics and software from Universal Electronics Inc. (UEI), the chips allow for wireless playback and centralized management of all the DVDs, CDs, and digitial video, audio and photos on home entertainment systems. The tech is on display at the IFA Conference in Germany this week.

If you're planning on taking the CWNA Exam for wireless network administration any time soon, be aware that the exam has been updated to reflect current terminology set by the IEEE. The CWNA courseware has the update, but CWNP will not be publishing a new study guide including changes. You'll have to read the full list online. They include such things as Power over Ethernet, referred to at 802.2-2005, clause 33 (instead of the old 802.3af).

September 5, 2006

What state loves their Wi-Fi? Perhaps Rhode Island most of all. CDW Government, a subsidiary of CDW, today announced their second State & Local Government Technology Investment Curve (TIC) to see which government since 2000 has purchased the most Wi-Fi equipment (this doesn't mean they've deployed the most, just bought it for different things, not all of which may be public -- it's quantity, not connectivity). RI has an investment profile of 147% over the average. Ohio, Colorado, Utah, California, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming follow, all well above the average. CDW-G says the more public-private partnerships a government has, the more it invests in wireless.

Symbol Technologies will provide the Wi-Fi and other parts that will be used in a new handheld gaming/gambling on demand system for casinos to be made by Sona Mobile Holdings and Shuffle Master. Symbol will apparently help the company get regulatory permission to get the device out into the wild.

Xirrus says it can extend the Quality of Service (QoS) for voice and video traffic found on wired networks to its Wi-Fi Array. The array will support the Wi-Fi QoS standard of 802.11e, plus will tag wireless packets with 802.1Q virtual LAN and 802.1p prioritization when sourced on the wired network. The company says  tagging and prioritization will extend wired QoS to Wi-Fi, and that previous switched WLANs couldn't tag or prioritize packets moving from the AP to the wiring closet.

Techworld is reporting on a transceiverprints, a technology under investigation that could transform wireless security. Researchers at Carleton University in Ottawa say they could tell the difference between signals from different devices even if they were from the same manufacturer. Each signal could be recognized as matching a pre-recorded transceiverprint from the product. It could be just what the doctor ordered to keep networks locked just to approved devices, MAC address spoofed or not.