Nomadix: Expanding the WiFi Market

As far as WiFi goes, Nomadix is a pioneer: it has been in the wireless Internet business since 2000, when it received a patent for a “nomadic
translator or router” that allowed mobile users to connect to the Internet
regardless of the configuration of the laptop or computer. The device was called
the Universal Subscriber Gateway, and it’s still a cornerstone of the company.

At the 80211 Planet
Conference & Expo
, where Nomadix is co-provider of the show’s 802.11
broadband wireless network along with Proxim, Nomadix announced that its software
upgrade will be available on its access gateways (including the HotSpot Gateway
and the Universal Subscriber Gateway II) by the end of July.

The conference is expecting
thousands of visitors to its show floor, and Nomadix is prepared: Its Universal
Subscriber Gateway II can handle 2,000 simultaneous users.

“We’re basically a
software company,” said John DiGiovanni, Nomadix director of marketing. “We design our Network Service Engine and sell it on a gateway
platform. We can spec it in different sizes so that we can sell products to
massive network providers and to local providers, such as cafes.” In fact, Nomadix software powers over 5,000 points of presence around the

According to DiGiovanni, large network providers are getting interested in
hotspots, so equipment manufacturers foresee a rosy future. While
some are expecting to generate profits from hotspots, there are other viable
reasons for deploying. McDonald’s in New York City, which is offering an hour’s
WiFi access with every Value Meal, is also able to use the wireless network to keep its staff connected wirelessly.

Network providers such as Deutsche Telekom in Germany and Verizon in the United States
are looking at hotspots as a feature they can offer for free to DSL subscribers
to reduce churn. While backhaul may be a problem for anyone who has not built
their own network, the phone companies of the world will not have any problem
getting their own access points provisioned.

South Korea leads the way. Its incumbent, Korea
Telecom, and its CLEC, Hanaro, are deploying hotspots to increase customer
loyalty in the world’s most competitive broadband market. “South Korea has at
least 10,000 hotspots,” DiGiovanni said.

The upgraded Network Service Engine announced by Nomadix is designed to cash
in on the expected deployments. The software is designed to make it easier to
sell wholesale access from a particular hotspot, so that users can gain access to the
Internet through a variety of ISPs from a single location. Security enhancements
include MAC filtering and passive DoS attack prevention.

A new failover feature allows a gateway to hand over to a secondary device if
the primary one fails, a feature of particular important to enterprises. Billing improvements now allow duration-based billing and, for the hotel industry, the posting of bills to a specific user. Finally, a new provisioning architecture should make it easier to deploy hotspots. “We’re talking to providers expecting to deploy thousands of hotspots,” DiGiovanni said, “and we want to make that easier.”

The possibilities for deployment seem endless. DiGiovanni said network
providers are finding rich, demanding broadband wireless customers at marinas
and RV parks. Nomadix software is deployed at several
airports, including Tokyo’s Narita, and Sydney airport in Australia. The company
hopes to be a part of a growing market for in-plane business broadband, although
that will require approval from both the FAA and the FCC.

Meanwhile, the company is researching more technologies it can patent. The
latest patent pending problem solves the hotspot VPN problem. “If two business
users connect to a corporate LAN from the same hotspot,” explains DiGiovanni,
“the corporate server sees two VPN tunnels from one IP address, and suspects
it’s being attacked. It cuts off one or both of them. Our technology spoofs an
IP address so the corporate server sees two different IPs.”

Whether the wireless future lies in massive carrier deployments or in
increasing what DiGiovanni calls “our warchest of intellectual property,”
Nomadix plans to be a part of the wireless revolution, as it has been from the

Nomadix CTO and senior vice president Joel Short will present
a keynote
speech at the 80211 Planet Conference & Expo on Friday.

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