Wi-Fi Product Watch: July 2005

July 22, 2005

  • Atheros says that Lenovo Networks—a division of the same company that now owns the ThinkPad line of notebook computers—is putting out an 802.11g router called the LSA 800R to bundle with the company’s Yang Tian series of desktop PCs for sale at retail in China. The unit will use Atheros’ single chip running 11g with 802.11i/AES security support.

  • Cisco’s new 4400 Series Wireless Local Area Network (LAN) Controllers for running a larger number of access points are now available. Model 4402 has two Gigabit Ethernet ports and can handle 12, 25 or 50 lightweight APs; the 4404 had four Gigabit ports and runs as many as 100 APs. These products are based on the Airespace technology acquired earlier this year by Cisco.

  • Speaking of Cisco, the company has given its Linksys home networking division a big KiSS; that is, it bought KiSS Technology A/S of Horsholm, Denmark. With the newly acquired technology, Linksys will be able to “internally develop and design future, differentiated networked entertainment products” (according to Linksys PR), and will have a better presence in Europe. KiSS products in Europe will continue to be marketed and supported by Linksys.

    July 21, 2005

    Press relations for Airgo Networks leaked out a little information on the 802.11n standards process underway this week at the IEEE’s 802.11 Working Group plenary meeting in San Francisco. As reported last month, the two major groups, WWiSe and TGn Sync, both realizing that they were hopelessly stalemated by the last vote (where neither came close to the needed 75 percent “super majority”), are working together. They asked the 11n Task Group for more time to work together, and received approval (by a vote of 175 to 2) to make a joint proposal at the meeting in November 2005.

    July 20, 2005

  • Marvell says it has the world’s first “ultra-low-power” 90 nanometer WLAN chip. The 88W8686 draws less than 400Mw, and has a footprint of only 50 millimeters square. The company says the chip will “enhance battery life by at least 100 percent,” providing as much as 250 hours of standby time and 10 hours of talk time when used in a Wi-Fi-enabled phone handset—the target market. The chip integrates an ARM controller, and has a transceiver for 802.11a/b/g.

  • The wireless Sonos Digital Music System has new controller software out that lets Macintosh OS X 10.3 and 10.4 users take advantage of the product, including integration with iTunes 4.9 (with podcast support). In addition, the software has support for Windows Media Audio (WMA) formatted Internet Radio stations.

    July 18, 2005

  • Not to be outdone (for long) by competing products from D-Link, Linksys and others, Belkin today announced its own pocket-sized Wireless G Travel Router. The $60 unit (model F5D7233) uses 802.11g for connections in hotel rooms and similar on-the-road broadband instances where you’re likely to be offered a wired connection.

  • Last week, Adaptix went one better than the current crop of WiMax silicon coming out by claiming to have mobile WiMax silicon. That’s right: a pre-mobile-WiMax a year or two ahead of the IEEE 802.16e specification for using WiMax connections while on the move, akin to 3G technologies like EV-DO but at higher speeds. The company demonstrated the technology over the weekend at the WiMAX Forum Members General and Working Group Face-to-Face in a GMC Yukon Denali, where it used 2.5Mbps download speeds to get voice calls, video and data downloads. Adaptix will be supplying chips to LG Electronics for WiBro deployments in South Korea (WiBro being the Korean flavor of mobile WiMax).

    July 11-15, 2005

  • AirMagnet has a new upgrade out to its Enterprise 6.0 distributed product, specifically allowing full integration of Cisco access points, turning existing Cisco hardware into security scanners (not quite full sensors) for monitoring the airwaves. AirMagnet will integrate directly into the Cisco Wireless LAN Solution Engine (WLSE). 6.0 also features new security alarms for new forms of cracking WEP and “day-zero attacks,” that is, new types of attacks that AirMagnet flags based on unusual patterns in what it sees on the network.

    The company is also warning against a type of denial of service attack it says is becoming more prevalent with customers which it calls “phlooding,” a DoS directed at an authentication server. Instead of targeting an AP, requests might go through multiple pieces of wireless hardware, but will all end up choking the (usually) single authentication server.—July 13, 2005

  • Interlink has released a LucidLink client for Pocket PCs running the Windows Mobile 2003 operating system (first and second edition). This will let PDAs use the software-based 802.1X authentication. Previously, the software would only work with Windows 2000/XP. The Pocket PC client, still in beta, will automatically detect security settings so users don’t have to set anything.—July 13, 2005

  • Kineto Wireless has licensed its Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) technology for making voice calls on both cellular and wireless VoIP networks (known as fixed-mobile convergence, or FMC) to LG Electronics and Samsung for use in future wireless phone handsets. Other companies using Kineto’s UMA are Motorola and Nokia. No word on when such phones will come out, but Kineto’s latest newsletter says Motorola is trialing UMA with European carriers like TeliaSonera in Denmark.—July 13, 2005

  • Prismiq has released an 802.11g-based USB 2.0 network adapter called Mini-Fi. The size of a thumb-drive, the unit plugs into a USB port on a laptop or desktop to provide the system with a wireless network connection, WEP up to 256-bit, with WPA support — and it works on Windows 98 on up. In short, yeah, it’s just another $40 Wi-Fi adapter.

    If you’re looking for something interesting in Wi-Fi adapters for USB ports, Trendware might have the thing. It’s a combination Wi-Fi signal detector and USB adapter, complete with LCD screen built in to tell you if there’s a network available and whether that network is open or encrypted. In fact, you can set it to only search for open networks, or only those with strong signals. When it’s plugged into the computer, the Lithium Ion battery inside recharges so you can use it as a detector when disconnected. The TEW-429UB WiFi Detector/Adapter uses 802.11g and will sell for around $80 later this month.—July 13, 2005

  • Roving Planet says it has added a new layer of security to its management platform, Commander Suite 3.0, for wireless LANs by supporting Microsoft’s Network Access Protection (NAP). The technology will work in Commander with the Scan & Block module used to quarantine devices, and will provide remediation to bring them up to the network’s policy standard—that’s what NAP is all about. NAP will be integrated into the view in the management console GUI for Commander Suite. —July 13, 2005

  • Toshiba TEC America will be integrating the Wireless VPN security software from Columbitech into its products for retailers, such as point-of-sale terminals, bar code scanners and printers, and electronic cash registers. This will let retailers use the products on wireless connections without fear of compromising financial transaction data. Additionally, the hardware can move from network to network without having to re-associate or log in.—July 13, 2005

  • iPod accessory maker First International Digital (FID) is marketing a Wi-Fi signal locator called Wi-Fi Sentry, which looks to be based on the Chrysalis Wi-Fi Seeker design. The key fob sized unit will sell for $25 at myirock.com. —July 11, 2005

  • Netgear is sweetening the pot to get users to upgrade to its RangeMax line of “Smart MIMO” products. Buy a RangeMax router and you can trade in your old router to get a free RangeMax Wireless Adapter for your laptop (PC Card) or desktop (PCI or USB adapter). The Trade Up to RangeMax program will last until September 30, 2005, and of course involves filling out lots of forms and mailing in your router—don’t drag the old hardware into your local retailer. —July 11, 2005

  • The CWNP Program today launched its latest certification exam, the updated CWNA (certified wireless network administrator). It now covers new 802.11 standards, wireless switch architectures, and use of Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA). —July 11, 2005

  • Trapeze Networks says it has built in new security features for use by its Mobility System Software on Trapeze wireless switch products. The software will detect and prevent attacks like Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) and MAC address spoofing, along with enhanced rogue access point detection. The new software will also restrict SSIDs used, blacklist or dynamically identify specific SSIDs and MAC addresses, classify APs and ad-hoc client systems as part of the network or outside, and even permit or deny APs on the network based on the vendor who made the device. The software will also jump in to prevent denial of service (DoS) attacks. —July 11, 2005

  • Defywire has a new patent to allow mobile wireless devices to be used for voice communication at the same time as they’re receiving text and e-mail messages. This will be built into the Defywire Mobility Suite, and will work on a variety of IP-based wireless technologies, from 3G to Wi-Fi to WiMax. The software will also let the mobile device act as a server or bridge between various devices. —July 11, 2005

    July 7, 2005

  • Rest easy on the fight over 802.11n: both sides in the somewhat contentious battle for how the high-speed (100+ Mpbs) wireless standard should be defined within the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE) 802.11n Task Group are working on a joint proposal. The WWiSE consortium (backed by Airgo, Broadcom, HP, Nokia, TI and others) wasn’t winning the votes needed —but neither was TGn Sync (with members Intel, Atheros, Cisco, Marvell, Qualcomm, Symbol and more). The latter only had a simple majority of votes, not the 75 percent “super majority” needed to get control of the specification. That was seen by both sides as a signal that it was time to compromise. The joint proposal will probably not be ready for this month’s 802.11 Working Group meeting, but a first draft could be in place by November.—July 7, 2005

  • Earlier this week, AirDefense launched its first mobile version which runs on Windows 2000/XP laptops using Atheros-based 802.11a/b/g cards or embedded chips. The software does real-time analysis of the airwaves in a WLAN, and will synchronize with the AirDefense Enterprise software to find problems, or in remote locations for getting extra info on new devices (such as rogue APs) found on the network. The LiveView feature allows users to track network performance, and there are many more features. It sells for $995.—July 7, 2005

  • AdventNet has released a small business edition of WiFi Manager 4 for managing WLANs with 10 or fewer access points. The software will auto-discover and monitor wireless equipment from several vendors including 3Com, Avaya, Cisco, D-Link, Dell, Nomadix, Symbol, and others for a total of 50 models of AP, router or gateway. The software costs $495; RF sensors for monitoring the airwaves cost an additional $645 each. Larger-scale versions of WiFi Manager are available for 50, 100, 500 or unlimited numbers of APs. —July 7, 2005

  • There’s a test going on at Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan, to trial “seamless roaming and hand-off between a fixed Wi-Fi access area and a mobile broadband network using Flarion’s FLASH-OFDM technology.” The trial’s mobile aspect will come from the 2GHz frequency band which is controlled by Japan Telecom. The school’s Research Center for 21st-Century Information Technology (IT-21 Center) is performing the research on behalf of the Japanese government, looking at the ability for this fast hand-off to be available in case of emergencies, as well as for everyday broadband use in public transportation. Japan Telecom has Mobile Point WLAN service in several train stations and hotels.—July 7, 2005
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