Wi-FI Product Watch: August 2005

  • Verizon Wireless and a few other companies might not like this, be we do: D-Link has announced a future router that has a PC Card slot used to provide 3G backhaul. That means, if you’ve got an account with (for example) Verizon Wireless BroadbandAccess, the nationwide EV-DO network found in many major cities, you could place the EV-DO card in the slot to use EV-DO as your broadband connection (a wireless DSL, if you will). The router will support both 802.11g and Ethernet for client connections, using WPA and 802.1X and NAT for security. This unit—D-Link Wireless 3G Mobile Router (model DI-725)—won’t be limited to EV-DO, but will likely work with other 3G networks like Flash-OFDM, HSDPA, UMTS, and EDGE. It even includes two USB 2.0 ports in case your 3G access comes that way, or to double as a print server. Unfortunately, D-Link has not said what the price will be, and doesn’t expect it to be on shelves until early 2006.

  • Proxim says as of today, the company—which was recently purchased by Terabeam Wireless after some financial woes—will henceforth be known as… wait for it… Proxim Wireless. The division will continue to sell the ORiNOCO Wi-Fi products and the long range Tsunami wireless line, and is adding EtherAnt client products, TeraBridge outdoor point-to-point equipment, and other product lines from parent company TeraBeam/YDI Wireless.

  • Kineto said last week that it is working with Nokia on Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) technology. UMA is a tech Kineto has long pushed with partners, and it recently became part of the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) cellular specifications. UMA’s purpose is to make hand-off from a cellular to Wi-Fi-based IP network work seamlessly when you’ve got a dual-mode handset. The two companies say they’re performing UMA trials with major operators now trying Kineto’s UMA controller in Nokia equipment. Kineto is also working with Motorola.

  • Common Criteria Evaluation and Validation is a certification process used by government agencies in the U.S. and other countries (Canada, UK, Germany, France, Australia, and others) to put stringent security on information technology products. In the U.S., this is run by the National Information Assurance Partnership (NIAP), itself a joint collaboration of NIST and the NSA. AirDefense says it is the first wireless intrusion prevention system to get the CC certification.

  • The ZigBee Alliance says that after two months, over 6,000 companies and groups have downloaded the specification for the low-power wireless mesh designed for control and monitoring products (like you’d find in thermostats, light switches, door openers, etc.). Membership in the Alliance has doubled since this time last year, to 178 companies. When will ZigBee products—which will run on the 802.15.4 wireless specification—be available? In the “next several months.” The group will have an all-day open house in Chicago on September 14 for demonstrations, and will hold the first ZigBee Developers Conference at the [email protected] show in Vegas in early October.

    August 23, 2005

  • The team-up of Netgear and Flarion has born fruit in the form of the new FLASH-OFDM Mobile Broadband Router 814 (model MBR814). The hardware will combine support for Flarion’s FLASH-OFDM broadband backhaul—no cable or DSL needed—with Wi-Fi (802.11g) and Ethernet (four ports) on the client side. Mobile operators—the target market for the product, since FLASH-OFDM isn’t exactly everywhere— can use it to provide end users with the hardware as customer premises equipment (CPE) for broadband anywhere. First announced companies using the 814 are Cellular One of Amarillo, Texas, and Citizens Telecom of Virginia; European operators will soon follow.

  • There’s a new networking standard finalized, but get this: it uses wires. It might be old-fashioned, but at least they’re existing wires (power lines, specifically), because this is HomePlug AV, the new 200Mbps technology from the HomePlug Powerline Alliance. Chipmaker Intellon is already demonstrating the capabilities of HomePlug AV at this week’s Intel Developers Forum in San Francisco.

  • Avaya is planning to improve the way its SIP-based IP Telephony softphone works on the next generation of Intel Centrino-based laptops (codenamed Napa). It’s part of a new collaborative effort between the two companies. The partnership will also lead to better integration with Bluetooth devices when using the phone software.

  • Proxim—now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Terabeam Wireless —is currently demonstrating products using its new ORiNOCO Mesh Creation Protocol (OMCP) designed for municipal networks. The ORiNOCO AP-4000M is out now and has dual radios to provide 802.11a/b/g for client connections; it hooks to the the Proxim Tsunami PM.11 for backhaul. The AP-4900M ships next month and will be a 4.9GHz model, including a separate radio for 802.11b/g connections to clients, even in a vehicle. The third-party Wavelink Mobile Manager can manage the units (as well as all other Proxim equipment).

  • Alvarion is also on the 4.9GHz bandwagon. The company’s BreezeACCESS 4900 specifically extends its pre-WiMax equipment to target first responders in the United States, where 4.9GHz is reserved for public safety use. Alvarion believes it will be quite effective when coupled with the in-vehicle BreezeACCESS 900 unit to provide non-line-of-sight connections to the field.

  • 3e Technologies International (3eTI) is working with AirDefense to make sure the 3eTI WLAN equipment integrates with the AirDefense Enterprise IPS (intrusion protection system). They call it a “military-grade” security solution, supporting FIPS 140-2. The combo will allow the 3eTI hardware to serve as sensors for the IPS, sending data back to AirDefense Enterprise.

  • Frost & Sullivan says that the voice over wireless LAN (VoWLAN) market is poised for growth starting this year. In Europe alone, the market is projected to jump from 6.6 million Euros in 2004 to 1.99 billion Euros by 2010. A driver of this is the 14 member companies of the Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) group that make and provide dual-mode phones supporting cellular and Wi-Fi connections—all will allow calls to go through hotspots. A report from Alexander Resources says that the mobile operators are starting to feel the heat from VoWLAN and will probably reduce cellular service prices. Alexander says the move to new 3G (like EV-DO and UMTS) can’t happen fast enough for the carriers, who could take a hit if deployments take too long.

  • Research firm West Technology Research Solutions says that when Freescale Semiconductor ships its DS-UWB chips in the third quarter of this year, it will spur “significant economic growth” in ultrawideband circles. They expect DS-UWB components to have a market worth $482 million by 2010, with annual shipments for consumer electronics alone hitting around 38 million units by 2009. The company report looks not only at UWB but also Bluetooth and 802.11 technologies, including the high-speed 802.11n.

  • SMC’s new EliteConnect 2.4GHz dual-radio 802.11g Wireless Bridge (SMC2585W-G) is exactly what it says—a $800 bridge between networks providing full 54Mbps speeds on all sides, as it will connect two or more networks wirelessly. It can also double as an access point (using one or both radios) or repeater. Security goes up to 152-bit WEP plus WPA, with 802.1X authentication support. It handles protocol filtering against Ethernet, IP or UDP traffic as needed, plus the usual MAC address filters and deactivation of SSID broadcasts.

  • Chip designer Redpine Signals of Santa Clara, Calif., claims to have the “world’s lowest power licensable 802.11b/g platform.” Their Pine1-LP draws less than 170mA (377mW) for 54Mbps downloads, and 12.5mA (35.6mW) for VoIP calls. The chipset includes the MAC, baseband, analog front end, 2.4GHz radios and power amplifiers, plus host interfaces. It can also support Bluetooth, and has firmware for Linux, Windows CE 5.0 and other OSes.

  • EV-DO is ready for laptops. Sierra Wireless says it has done a “modest initial” shipment of the MC5720 PCI Express Mini Card wireless module for Evolution, Data Optimized (EV-DO), with volume shipments expected later this year. They’ve also got a Mini-PCI card ready that supports High-Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA), the next gen GSM cellular technology that, like EV-DO, is a slower but more mobile wireless than the current pre-WiMax equipment.

  • WildPackets has new tools, including the AiroPeek SE packet analyzer for 802.11 networks, the Airopeak NX version 3.0 for more advanced analysis including site surveys and client troubleshooting, and the brand new AiroPeak VX for diagnosing VoWi-Fi issues in real time. The latter two support the proprietary Visual Expert tool to break down network behaviors and devices. All three products use global positioning technology. They should all ship by the end of this month.

  • Worried about leaking info from your RFID tags? Columbitech, which makes Wireless VPN software, has extended the technology to secure RFID readers in many different network environments. There’s a single sign-on for users, and the WVPN prevents third-party eavesdroppers from listening in on transmitted RFID data.

    August 18, 2005

  • Marvell’s latest chip family is targeting the market for handsets using voice over WLAN (VoWLAN). The 88W8618, in particular, is meant to be “ultra-low power” for handsets, extending talk time by a factor of three, according to Marvell. The rest of the 88W86 system-on-a-chip products are made for residential gateways supporting voice. Each also supports Marvell’s AutoLink one-click feature for setting up WPA or WPA2 security on the VoWLAN connection, as well as BoostMode for increasing range and throughput over the usual 802.11g specifications. Reference designs are already sampling with customers.

    August 17, 2005

  • Buffalo AirStation Smart RouterOn Monday, Buffalo Technology introduced the Buffalo AirStation 125* High Speed Mode Wireless Cable/DSL Smart Router (model WHR-G54S). It comes with a switch on the box to turn it from a router to a bridge for extending an existing WLAN. As a router, it automatically detects the Internet connection and configures it for use by clients, both wired and 802.11b/g. It uses the AirStation One-Touch Secure System (AOSS) system for setting up WPA security. This is one of the first new Buffalo products in a new chassis that can sit up or lay down, using an external antenna to send signals. It will sell for $69.

  • News.com is reporting that a couple of Idaho companies claim to have broken the record for the longest-distance wireless data connection, set this summer at Defcon. Microserv Computer Technologies and Trango Broadband Wireless say they sent a signal 137.2 miles over unlicensed spectrum from one mountain to another. Less impressive is the fact that it was done without Wi-Fi. So the record set at the Defcon Wi-Fi Shootout of 125 miles using 802.11b radios—albeit really high-powered radios—stands.

  • The WLAN Switch market is doing well, thanks. Dell’Oro Group says the market for switches/servers/appliances grew 45 percent in the second quarter to $59 million. Synergy Research Group says the number was even higher, at $73 million. Both companies peg Symbol as outselling the rest of the pack of switch makers.

  • Centennial Software is selling a product called DeviceWall 3.0 to lock down access to the network by portable devices. It will give “read-only” access to certain devices, and can completely lock down ports used for Wi-Fi, infrared or Bluetooth on a PC. It runs on Windows NT/2000/2003 server systems, and costs as little as $10 per seat.

  • Funk Software’s new Steel-Belted Radius/SIM Server (version 1.3) is designed for wireless providers who want to add both Short Message Service (SMS)-based subscriber authentication on GSM or CDMA networks, as well as 802.1X authentication over WLANs, and even those supporting UMA. It is available now.

  • In-Stat says that in a recent survey on home networks (called Untethered Fun) the majority of the 640 “tech-savvy” consumer respondents believe they will use Wi-Fi mostly for data rather than in consumer electronics in the future. Analyst Norm Bogen says, “Consumer electronics vendors have a challenge to educate consumers about Wi-Fi and to overcome the perception that Wi-Fi is simply a data networking technology.”

    August 12, 2005

  • On the heels of TrendNet’s announcement of a somewhat similar device is ZyXEL with its AG-225H Wi-Fi Finder. It combines a signal locator with an LCD readout with a USB adapter. This one, however, supports 802.11a in addition to 11b/g (both in signal-seeking and in connecting a laptop)—it even notifies you if a network is using MIMO connections to be “Pre-11n.” The LCD will show the signal strength of nearby connections, whether or not the signal is secured, the channel, and the SSID. It even uses software to turn an Internet-connected computer into a soft AP. It supports WPA and 802.11i/WPA2. The integrated Lithium Ion battery will charge when the unit is plugged into the laptop. Expect it in September for $99.

  • Interlink Networks, makers of the LucidLink software for turning a single computer into an 802.1X/RADIUS authentication server suitable for homes and offices, sponsored a survey by The Diffusion Group to see just how few people use unsecured wireless networks. To little surprise, the number is high. While 90 percent of the 1,500 small to medium businesses (SMBs) they talked to actually have some kind of security product—like a firewall—the majority don’t use any kind of user authentication. This, of course, is the niche LucidLink wants to fill.

  • Belkin’s Wireless G line (the original 802.11g products, not the Pre-N line) and recently-announced Wireless G Plus line (with inexpensive MIMO chips) of products due in the spring, will all be featuring a new Easy Install Wizard with a special focus on setting up security. It will even allow for “Guest Access,” so that people not usually on the home network, and lacking a user password to put into the new client utility that Belkin will provide, can at least get Internet access. The client will also feature a graphical interface showing the signal strength and settings of nearby access points. The older Wireless G products will have this software available on September 30.

    August 10, 2005

  • Xirrus now has built-in support for SpectraLink’s Voice Priority (SVP). The proprietary tech is used to provide traffic optimization for voice calls on SpectraLink’s VoWi-Fi phones. Xirrus makes the WLAN Array, a combination WLAN switch with 16 access points in a single device, capable of providing coverage for an entire floor of a building using both 802.11a and 11b/g. The software with SVP built in is free to any current and future customers who buy any version of the Array. Underscoring their voice plans, Xirrus also has signed on a new value-added reseller, Communique, which specializes in data and voice deployments.

    August 9, 2005

  • SMC Networks is introducing mesh Wi-Fi equipment (which it calls 802.11s-compliant, even though there’s no 802.11s standard even close to debate, let alone finished). The hardware will be based on the WITnet (Wireless Intelligent Network) architecture from Accton Technology. The products should be available in the fourth quarter of this year.

  • Vivato has a new access point/bridge to deploy in conjunction with its long-range base stations. The VA4200 is a tri-mode (802.11a/b/g) device: it works with all types of clients simultaneously, using two radios—one for 5GHz 11a, and another for 2.4GHz 802.11b/g—or it can be set to use just the 11a for backhaul.

  • In-Stat says that the market for home networking (wired and wireless) will go from $9 billion in 2004 to $21 billion by 2009. Wireless has, of course, surpassed Ethernet as the “desired home network of choice,” according to In-Stat, with 802.11g the dominant technology. This is part of a report called Digital Domicile 2005: Wireless Overtakes Ethernet.

  • GigaBeam’s high-speed point-to-point wireless backhaul system, WiFiber, is coming to Europe, starting with Ireland. The technology will be distributed by WiFi Projects, Ltd. under a trial license from the Ireland Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg). The license is required because WiFiber runs in higher frequencies (71-76 GHz and 81-86 GHz to transmit) than the usual 802.11 and 802.16 technologies, which use unlicensed spectrum. GigaBeam says WiFiber can reach data rates of multiple Gigabits per second (Gbps).

  • Fiberlink has made Real-Time Remediation an option in its Extend360 software client. Companies using the Enterprise Vulnerability Management (EVM) service from Fiberlink can use it to keep track of the condition of a mobile user’s computer. If something goes out of compliance with a security policy, Real-Time Remediation will force the endpoint client to update before allowing it to have access to the corporate network.

    August 5, 2005

  • Cranite Systems and Redline Communications are partnering to provide security on Redline’s RedMax family of 802.16/16d WiMax equipment. The two have already tested Cranite’s WirelessWall software on a 100-mile WiMax link between San Luis Obispo and Monterey, California. Cranite says WirelessWall is more effective than virtual private network (VPN) tunnels because it encrypts entire frames, which hides info like IP addresses and prevents systems like DHCP from being used to attack the network.

    August 3, 2005

  • AirTight Networks has some new security for you. They’ve upgraded their SpectraGuard Enterprise product to version 3.1, so it now includes new features like a troubleshooting knowledge base to root out problems, as well as lots of new reporting. Maybe even cooler is the low-cost ($595) SpectraGuard Sentry, a single unit designed for small/medium businesses (SMBs) with the same IDS and packet/airwave monitoring as the big Enterprise product. The company says it will also help keep companies in line with standards like HIPAA, Sarbanes-Oxley, and others.

  • Meanwhile, the competition at Highwall Technologies says their Highwall Sentinal 1100 product is the first intrusion detection system sensor that can check all the Wi-Fi out there, including pre-802.11n products.

  • Cisco and TerraWave Solutions have signed an “integrator agreement,” under which TerraWave will sell Cisco Aironet equipment inside weatherproof NEMA enclosures for outdoor deployments.

  • Socket Communications says its new Go Wi-Fi! E300 Card for Windows Mobile 2003-based Pocket PC PDA devices with SDIO Now! slots is the “smallest, fastest, most secure 802.11 SDIO Wi-Fi card available.” The $89 card supports WEP up to 128-bit, 802.1X authentication with TLS or PEAP, and WPA with pre-shared key (PSK). Socket says it’s three times faster than previous SDIO Wi-Fi cards, and it will come with Wi-Fi Companion, a software application for finding and connecting to wireless networks. They say it also fully supports VoIP with Skype accounts running on a PDA.

  • D-Link is offering cash back (up to $50) for back-to-school purchases of products in the D-Link Xtreme G, AirPlus G and Air wireless families, the D-Link Super G with MIMO wireless routers and notebook adapters, the D-Link Wireless Pocket Router/AP, and the D-Link Broadband VoIP Router for use with the Lingo VoIP service.

  • Not to be outdone in the pocket-sized travel router market, Linksys is shipping its new Wireless-G Travel Router with SpeedBooster (model WTR54GS). It has a built-in power supply and retractable power cord, as well as an Ethernet port for connecting to hotel broadband. Multiple computers can share a single wireless access account through the device, presumably with a provider like ICOA or Wayport. The unit will also support SecureEasySetup, the one-button security provided via the Broadcom chip inside. It will sell for $100. An older version, the ^124AiroPeak125^, lacked the Broadcom SpeedBoost and the integrated power cord.

  • Dell’Oro says that in the future, enterprise equipment sales, especially in vertical markets, will keep the wireless LAN equipment market going strong. It’s heading to $3.5 billion by 2009. Up to now, home networks have been the big driver, but that’s going to change as Wi-Fi is embedded in more customer premises equipment (CPEs) such as broadband modems.

  • Belkin premiered new MIMO-based products this week, the followup to its very successful Pre-N line of products based on Airgo’s TRUE MIMO chip. This new line, called Wireless-G Plus, will use Airgo’s recently-announced cheaper chips so that the products—a router and PC Card to start, USB adapter to come later this year—will also be cheaper. Router is $100, card is $80.

  • The Financial Times and MSNBC say Microsoft is planning to launch a Wi-Fi based positioning/mapping system, akin to what Skyhook Wireless is doing, using existing WLAN equipment mapped to a database and using the signals to pinpoint a location. Microsofties are trolling streets right now doing country-wide site surveys in the U.S, the U.K. and elsewhere.

  • This year’s DefCon WiFi Shootout set a new record of 125 miles for a wireless 802.11 signal. Very cool—however, as pointed out at Wi-Fi Networking News, this setup was far from FCC compliant.

    Speaking of DefCon 13, the Las Vegas gathering was a fun place for wireless attacks. AirDefense says it counted 2,500 attacks in 10 hours over two days of monitoring, attacks with an increased “level of complexity” compared to last year, including a new wi-phishing scheme it says defeats most certificate-based authentication, when a user calls a certificate from a false Web page, allowing a Man in the Middle attack. Newbury Networks worked with the security pros of Digital Wolves (which identifies exposed users) to use location technology to show where all wireless devices were found, in real time, using their WiFi Watchdog product. They counted 5,637 spoofed MAC addresses, 764 spoofed SSIDs, 63 rogue APs with 235 clients connected to them, and 57 DoS attacks.

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