Wi-Fi Product Watch: May 2005
May 31, 2005
Atheros makes JumpStart security available to anyone; new WiPhishing scam; Broadcom sues Qualcomm; 5G tries 'cellular' approach; and more.
May 23-27, 2005
TeraBeam Wireless says it will be making WiMax products based on Fujitsu Microelectronics America's system-on-a-chip. The TeraMax 3.0 product family will use Terabeam's own network management operating system—codenamed "Logan"—and should be ready by the fourth quarter of this year.
Speaking of WiMax, research firm Strategy Analytics says the market for the subscriber terminals and base stations that will connect the tech will reach 20 million units by 2009. —May 24, 2005
May 16-20, 2005
is suing Qualcommover infringement of 10 patents "related to wired and wireless communications and multimedia processing technologies." It's not clear that any of the patents have to do with Wi-Fi, but they do cover voice over IP capabilities. The suit, filed in United States District Court for the Central District of California, seeks monetary damages and an injunction "barring the manufacture and sale of Qualcomm's core suite of baseband and RF integrated circuits." Broadcom also says Qualcomm has "engaged in unfair trade practices" by importing circuits that infringe upon the Broadcom patents, and has registered a complaint about it with the International Trade Commission (ITC). If this doesn't get settled, Broadcom expects a trial next year. The company claims to have 955 patents, with 3,200 more in the application process.—May 19, 2005
Nortel is working with Wireless Valley on a new product called MeshPlanner. The software is intended for designing a Nortel wireless mesh network. Import a map of an area, delineate what is an obstruction (such as trees and structures) and where the end users are, and the software will indicate the best places for access point placement. The software can do a full simulation of how the network will work, and how it will differ by adding in new mesh nodes. —May 18, 2005 Toshiba America Information Systems' MyConnect service (built on the back of the GoRemote service) is now going to have a version specifically designed for enterprise customers—much like GoRemote already is. MyConnect Enterprise will let mobile workers access hotspots and 50,000 dial-up connections worldwide. VPN is integrated into the software for secure tunnels back to the home network, and the corporation using it doesn't have to host a MyConnect server—Toshiba will host it for them. MyConnect runs on Windows 2000 and XP systems. —May 18, 2005 SMC Networks has a new wireless bridge for outdoor connections. The Elite Connect Universal 2.4GHz/5GHz Outdoor Wireless Access Point/Bridge (model SMC2888W) has two configurations: the M is the master, which does multipoint conections to up to 16 S (slave) modules using WDS bridging. They can support either 802.11b/g (2.4GHz) or 802.11a (5GHz) as needed, as well as WPA encryption and 802.1X authentication. Each product costs $1,000 and should be available in June. —May 18, 2005 Aruba Networks announced this week that its WLAN switching products—specifically the 2400 mobility controller and AP 61 and AP 70 access points—are the first to get certification from Cybertrust's ICSA Labs and its new Wireless Product Security Testing Program. The program checks for a product's cryptography and other abilities. Aruba says the certification assures customers that "advanced security functions, such as 802.11a, are properly implemented." —May 18, 2005 Freescale Semiconductor, a major player on the UWB side of things, is also going to play in the ZigBee wireless control space. The company is offering a system-in-a-package complete with an 802.15.4 MAC, Freescale's own simple MAC, and a ZigBee protocol stack for vendors to do quick and cheap development of ZigBee products. —May 18, 2005 Calypso Wireless says a prototype of its C1250i dual-mode phone supporting both Voice over Wi-Fi and GSM-GPRS communications is ready for field trials. The phone will use Calypso's patented ASNAP platform that allows revenue sharing between carriers and ISPs—whichever the phone connects with. ASNAP also allows the phone to handle mobile, two-way videoconferencing. Today, the company said it would give Franc Telecom of London exclusive rights to distributing the phones in the UK. —May 18, 2005 DeviceScape is providing the software inside the new palmOne LifeDrive Mobile Manager to make the new PDA with a 4GB hard drive Wi-Fi capable. This is DeviceScape's first Palm product; the company recently created a Linux stack for fast porting of Wi-Fi to that OS.—May 18, 2005
May 9-13, 2005
MIMO has come to cameras: Smartvue this week released a new video surveillance system that would build in the TRUE MIMO chipset from Airgo Networks. The chip is in use by many consumer Wi-Fi products to provide high speed and longer range connections using the multiple in, multiple out technology that is likely to be the basis of the 802.11n specification in the future. The system, called Smartvue S2, will be self-configuring, using the company's patent-pending technology to automatically seek out other cameras and video storage nodes. —May 12, 2005 MaxStream has eschewed both 802.11 and 802.16 (WiMax) in its new product. The XPress Ethernet Bridge is indeed wireless, but uses the 900MHz radio frequency band to get its 15-mile line-of-sight (with high-gain antenna) distance and 1.5Mbps connection. The company is targeting the product for areas where 2.4GHz band is in use and is causing interference. The point-to-point radios are $700 per pair for indoors, or $1,000 for outdoor enclosures. —May 12, 2005 Sony has a new T-Series VAIO ultra-portable laptop out, the VGN-T350, which includes built-in Wi-Fi but goes it one better by also including an integrated cellular connection. Specifically in this case, it works with Cingular's EDGE data network within the States. Using what Sony calls SmartWi technology, the laptop will switch back and forth from 802.11g/b or EDGE networks using function keys. (It also supports Bluetooth for peripherals.) Owners of the laptop can try a 30-day trial of Cingular service if they sign up through Sony. After that, it's $50 a month with a two year agreement, or try it free for two months then pay $80 a month with a one year agreement. The laptop starts at $2,200 and also features a 10.6-inch extra bright screen, DVD/RW drive, and Dolby surround sound when you wear headphones. —May 11, 2005 Another new virtual private network service to consider when using a hotspot: PublicVPN.com charges $6 a month or $60 a year to give Windows (XP & 2000, though instructions go back to Win95) and Mac (OS X 10.2 & 10.3) users encrypted security from the laptop to the access point. Choose from either IPsec or PPTP tunnels (with SSL tunnels on the way), and PublicVPN.com also offers an SMTP server for sending mail. Right now, they only take payments through PayPal, so you can let your auction of classic Star Wars memorabilia on eBay fund your security. —May 11, 2005 Cranite Systems' WirelessWall software has or is up for many certifications to make it officially useful to the United States government (FIPS-140-2 and Common Criteria Scheme certification, for example), but today the company reports in a deluge of acronyms that it has passed testing with "the Government of Canada's (GoC) Communications Security Establishment (CSE) Information Technology Security Product Prequalification Program (IPPP), and has been added to the ITS Product Prequalified List (IPPL)." Whew. —May 11, 2005 Multispectral Solutions says it has received a patent on using ultrawideband (UWB) to track RFID tags. They will build this into their Precision Asset Location System Products, including their new "Sapphire" line. They filed for the patent back in October 2001. —May 11, 2005 Techedge says it has built Wi-Fi into its existing IP-PCS voice solution, which is comprised of base stations, handsets, servers and the OSS software that runs it. With Wi-Fi in the base stations and handsets, the company says it can offer "service providers an additional option to deploy low cost mobile VoIP services." The base stations are high-power units designed to broadcast Wi-Fi citywide even with non-line-of-sight locations. The company is trialing the solution with an operator in Hangzhou, China. —May 11, 2005 Trapeze Networks has lined up another customer for its Wi-Fi switch technology. Enterasys Networks will integrate it into new equipment, in particular Trapeze's security and management capabilities, which will work directly with Enterasys's own intrusion detection and user policy enforcement features. Enterasys access points will also start to take advantage of Trapeze's Open Access Point Initiative (OAPI), so the APs can get full use out of the Trapeze Mobility System Software that Enterasys is building in.—May 9, 2005 ABI Research says that by the end of this decade, there will be over 100 million handsets in the world that can connect to either a cellular network or a Wi-Fi network for voice calls. The push by companies like Korea Telecom and BT, both planning dual-mode services this year, will fuel the fire for such phones.—May 9, 2005 ZigBee product developers can now get a kit from Atlanta-based Cirronet to helps speed them on the path to using the standard in industrial applications. The kit includes two 2.4GHz serial interface boards using Cirronet's ZigBee module. The boards have interfaces for USB, RS-23, power adapters, antennas and more. A single kit will cost $300. A more advanced "professional" developer's kit will follow soon.—May 9, 2005 AirDefense is warning against what it calls a new phishing scam to try and trick users of wireless networks, something it found when monitoring Wi-Fi traffic at events in the U.K. and in Las Vegas. The attack is similar to an 'evil twin' but goes the extra distance of offering a fake login Web page that looks like the real thing. Once logged in, a user will get hit with numerous computer viruses. AirDefense lists the top things that people can do to avoid problems—install a personal firewall, only enter passwords at SSL-encrypted Web sites; don't use hotspots where you can't see other users; turn off wireless when not in use; and don't use insecure software like e-mail and instant messages (stick to Web surfing only). Oh, and of course you can download the free AirDefense Personal software which monitors for various things like evil twins and phishing attacks on the fly—just be ready to give them some info on your company's own deployments to get it.—May 9, 2005 Luxul Corp. says its new 802.11b/g Enterprise Wireless Solution has the "power and coverage of more than five conventional 802.11g access points." The unit uses an omni-directional antenna, and has a Power over Ethernet amplifier to boost the AP output to 32dBm. The receive gain is also boosted to "64 times the receive sensitivity" of normal APs. No price information was announced, but the unit is available now.—May 9, 2005
May 2-6, 2005
News by way of Interop in Las Vegas this week:
Aruba Networks is offering customers a Personal Access Point (AP) that it can hand to traveling or telecommuting employees, which can in turn be used for secure connections back to the main office. Plug the $250 unit into any broadband connection (home, hotel, branch office, etc.) and the AP builds an IPsec-based VPN tunnel back to the corporate network. Even connections that require a user to sign in, such as a hotspot or hotel connection, can be used. The AP connects to the company's Aruba mobility controller to get any security policy info that needs to be enforced on the client. It can all be remotely controlled by the IT staff. Symbol Technologies is putting more security into its wireless equipment. The company will offer a Symbol Wireless Intrusion Protection System to integrate with the company's switch portfolio (and it won't require sensor hardware as an overlay—it will use the existing Symbol AP infrastructure), a radio frequency manager with a constant site survey feature and spectrum analyzer, and Symbol's next generation WLAN switch. The switch is an update of the WS2000 for branch offices. It will also include rogue AP detection, and can be used to deploy hotspots. Look for the new features and products in the third quarter. AirTight Networks has released a new version of its flagship product. SpectraGuard Enterprise 3.0 will combine location awareness with intrusion prevention systems (IPS). The system is made up of an appliance using a security policy manager, combined with distributed sensors. It hits all the highlights, preventing attacks like DoS, evil twins, spoofed MAC addresses, and others. The company also has released Planner, a standalone desktop tool that does just what it says: import a map, and you can use the drag-and-drop interface to figure out optimal AP and sensor placement in your facility. Chipmaker Engim is in partnership mode. The company is teaming with AirDefense to build 24/7 IPS right into its 802.11 chips. They say this multi-function platform will improve performance (though they don't say how), while cutting cost of equipment, since an overlay network isn't needed for sensors. The functions will be found in the Engim En-3002 chip. That same chip is being demonstrated by original design manufacturer (ODM) Accton, in an access point reference design called the EAP2638E. The design is now available to OEMs. Similar to the above (i.e., building IPS into access points), AirMagnet—which announced a deal with Engim months ago, and Colubris last week—is going to let market newcomer Xirrus build the AirMagnet intrusion detection technology into the Xirrus WLAN array. The hardware can then do full-time IDS while still working to connect end users—no overlay sensor network is needed. Cognio is finally making a product debut with the Intelligent Spectrum Management Platform (ISMP), which will work with WildPackets' Airopeak NX to provide full radio frequency (RF) management by monitoring for interference, malfunctioning devices and changes to the network traffic patterns. Concourse Communications, for example, will be using ISMP to monitor problems at the many airports where it runs hotspots. NextHop is also showing off its Wireless LAN Controller Software (WCS) —based on the intellectual property acquired from the late Legra Systems—with chip vendors SiNett and Marvell. SiNett's OneRunner reference platform, using the OneEdge Switch Processor, will work with WCS to address Layer 2 and 3 switching and WLAN management. Marvell is showing its Prestera chipset with WCS in a switch platform with 24 to 48 gigabit Ethernet ports, 10-gigabit uplinks, and support for up to 48 access points. Wireless Valley, maker of site survey software (now with built-in RF management) says it will be integrating its products with those of Network Chemistry. The combo will put WV's network simulation tools together with NC's network analysis and IDS. Network Chemistry, in fact, has upgraded its RFprotect System to version 4, a revamp the company says reduces the total cost of ownership (TCO) in IPS circles. The company is introducing totally new sensor hardware (which it says it builds itself, instead of using out-of-date off-the-shelf APs), which are priced at $349. Along with the above-mentioned site survey capabilities from Wireless Valley, the RFprotect software will also have location determination of intruders and rogues. Most of the prevention aspects are automated, so user intervention is at a minimum. RFprotect has two aspects, Mobile (on laptops) and Distributed (on a central server), which are designed to work together and share information. Also updating their security and management system is Fortress Technologies. The company's 3.0 version integrates what they call Management and Policy Server (MaPS) for tracking who's coming and going, what equipment they use, and where they signed in from. Profiles from MaPS can be as granular as what the specific computer logging needs to sign on, or go as high as putting restrictions on entire groups of users. 3.0 also includes a new security controller, and a new version of the Fortress Secure Client software for Windows (including CE), DOS, Palm, and Linux. Those with smaller networks that need managing may want to try AdventNet's WiFi Manager, version 4.2.0. The software now supports access points from consumer vendors like Linksys, D-Link and SMC, which can be centrally secured and configured. Also supported are access gateways from Nomadix. Speaking of Nomadix, the company released this week a new gateway, the AG 5000 Metro, designed for controlling wireless in metro-sized wireless networks. The $12,000 unit can handle up to 4,000 users at a time when they connect via a Wi-Fi hotzone (standard APs or mesh) or even WiMax-based fixed wireless. On the back-end of metro deployments comes Airpath with a new neutral host platform, called RoamBOSS. This Operational Support System (OSS) is a carrier-centered version of the company's WiBOSS, this time providing roaming functions and a clearinghouse for billing between providers. The company says the "neutrality" of the platform is a must for municipalities if they want to get users who have subscriptions with other areas or services. Columbitech has added virtual private network support for wireless users to its software, targeting voice over Wi-Fi use that needs better security. It supports Session Persistence so it can maintain a session even when out of range of the wireless signal—so calls made even at a hotspot can continue onto a 3G network or vice versa—any network that's IP based.
Away from the lights of Vegas:
Microsoft has released a software update that adds native WPA2/802.11i support to Windows XP. No need for third-party supplicants any more (though they arguably might still be better). The update supports preshared key (PSK) and AES encryption using CCMP, or can also use the Pairwise Master Key (PMK) caching to authenticate faster, since results are stored.—May 4, 2005 LucidLink, the home and SMB 802.1X authentication software you install on a local system, said this week that it is Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)-compliant, meaning it is rated secure enough for medical use in doctors offices and clinics. The company offers a white paper spelling out how to put the software to such use.—May 4, 2005 Atherosis making its "one-touch" wireless security solution, called JumpStart, available to any maker of Wi-Fi equipment that would like to incorporate it—for free. This is unlike Broadcom and Buffalo, who both retain control of their own one-touch security setups for their customers or products, respectively. The open-source move means vendors beyond just D-Link, which is already committed to JumpStart, may embrace it. The source code will be available (eventually) at SourceForge, but developers will want to get the full SDK (including marketing materials) from Atheros. —May 2, 2005 IOGear has launched its first HomePlug-compliant Powerline Networking Kit for home users, which connects computer or networking equipment over a home's interior powerlines as if it were Ethernet. The kit isn't wireless, but IOGear is positioning it as a great way to eliminate Wi-Fi dead spots. The kit costs $100. —May 2, 2005 Socket Communications hopes to ease WLAN sign-in support for people using Pocket PCs. The company's Wi-Fi Companion runs on such devices with 802.11, and gives them a graphical interface along with profiles they can use at multiple networks. Wi-Fi Companion can work as a network detector, telling the user the type of network and security used, and also has diagnostic tools built in for doing a ping or trace route for troubleshooting. It will even turn on the power saving mode automatically to extend the unit's battery life. The software costs $25 and runs on units from HP, Asus and Dell that incorporate Wi-Fi, as well as other Pocket PCs using the Socket Compact Flash (CF) or SDIO Wi-Fi cards. The software will come free with the cards after May 16. —May 2, 2005