Wi-Fi Product Watch: February 2006

By Wi-Fi Planet Staff

February 28, 2006

AirMagnet upgrades; Nikon has new cameras; CWNP plays Wireless#; and more.

Apple’s new Mac Mini computer is out, and this latest little PC is running an Intel Core Duo chip inside. What’s important for connectivity is that the Mini has Gigabit Ethernet and 802.11g (Airport Extreme) support, and even built-in Bluetooth 2.0+EDR (Enhanced Data Rate). Retail price is $600.

In April, SMC Networks will begin selling the latest in tiny Wi-Fi for traveling, the SMCWTVG Wireless Travel Voice Gateway. In addition to Wi-Fi connections, it’s got two analog telephone adapter jacks. Plug in a regular phone and make cheap Internet phone calls with your VoIP service of choice, or use the other just to call on the regular phone if you’re using up the jack for the DSL connection. The gateway can also double as a wireless client to get laptops without built-in 802.11 online. Asking price will be $130.

TRENDnet says it will be incorporating the Network Magic software from Pure Networks (reviewed here) with its TEW-432BRP 802.11g Wi-Fi Router. The software is used to configure and manage home networks.

In-Stat says the WLAN chipset market’s growth will continue for a while. 140 million sold in 2005, and the projection is for 430 million by 2009. This is driven by the usual suspects: PCs and routers and client cards, as well as embedded Wi-Fi in phones. Broadcom, Atheros and Intel were the top sellers for last year, though each controlled a different market (Intel obviously in Centrino-based laptops, for example).

February 27, 2006

AirMagnet has announced a new version of its Enteprise product, Version 7.0. They say it’s the first such security platform to build in monitoring for outdoor Wi-Fi, specifically to get a handle on the growing number of citywide wireless networks. A laptop running the company’s Laptop Analyzer can become a temporary sensor, which now can give field engineers a way to capture data to import to the main product’s Mobile Site Analysis tool. The company will be selling a new outdoor sensor in a ruggedized case as well. Spectrum analysis is available in a single, specialized sensor device to identify interference and other issues; price is $2,000 per sensor. Other improvements in the $8,995 Enterprise product include location-based alarms and improved location detection.

Atheros says that as of January 2006 it has sold a total of 50 million Wi-Fi chipsets, most of them using the company’s Super G, Super AG, and XR (eXtended Range) technologies. (Competitor Broadcom reported selling that number in July 2005.)

Look for a new wireless broadband player in the United States now that InfiNet Wireless says its 5000-series wireless broadband equipment has Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approval for use in the 5.8GHz radio frequency band. The Moscow-based company says it will be among the first to debut WiMax-certified products in that band this year; currently, most WiMax equipment runs in 3.5GHz. The 5000 series got FCC approval for 4.9GHz (used by first responders only) back in September 2005. InfiNet equipment is being used to help unwire various cities in Russia.

Symbol's MC9000-G mobile computing RFID reader is incorporating the location-aware software from Ekahau. When it's working with a laptop running the Ekahau Positioning Engine 3.1 (EPE) on a Wi-Fi network, it can also be used to show real-time locations for devices with passive RFID tags — not just the active Wi-Fi enabled RFID tags Ekahau sells.

February 24, 2006

Following up on its last set of 802.11g-equipped cameras, Nikon’s new set of slim CoolPix units includes more models with wireless. The coolest: CoolPix S6 uses wireless to transfer pictures to a PC, and can print directly to any Wi-Fi equipped printer that supports PictBridge (the company sells a wireless print adapter to help). The six-megapixel  and 3x-zoom S6 will be out in March at a price of $450. (Other geegaws include editing of images right in the camera and creation of in-camera slideshows with musical accompaniment.) The larger P models that previously supported Wi-Fi get an additional  unit as well: the P3. Both models also come in non-wireless versions, but who’d want that?

Chipmaker SiNett is doing something a little different with the OneRunner PCI card. It uses the SiNett OneEdge Switch chip, and when installed in a PC, can turn it into a Wi-Fi appliance. OEMs can use it to add Wi-Fi and network processing to any X86-based hardware. The chip supports several performance enhancements including 4Gbps network throughput on the switch, CAPWAP provisioning of “thin” access points, and even support for the 802.11n draft. In volume, the OneRunner cards will sell for $495 each, and should be out by March.

The ZigBee Alliance, the association pushing for the low-power wireless mesh tech to be used to automate homes and buildings, says it will have a public interoperability Open House in Milan, Italy next month, on March 16. They expect 400 participants to discuss and demonstrate the tech in action; this is just one of many open houses the group plans to have around the world. Participants will include Ember, Chipcon, Freescale and many others. The meeting is open and free to any attendees.

Last week, fabless semiconductor designer Nanoradio AB of Sweden announced its first Wi-Fi chipset. The NRX700 is designed specifically for portable electronics like phones, and the company says the chip not only has the lowest power consumption but also the smallest footprint in the market, with a size of only 20mm square. One area the company says it is the first to support is headsets with Wi-Fi, which it demonstrated at the 3GSM World Congress show.

Ekahua has upgraded its Ekahau Site Survey product to 2.2, which it says provides better survey capabilities for larger enterprise WLANs through an “optimized network planning algorithm” that is 10 times faster than before. It also recognizes more access points. The English version is out now (priced at $3,695), with French, German, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese editions coming in March.

If you like soccer (sorry, football) and Wi-Fi, TRENDnet has a product for you. The limited edition $60 TEW-429UB is an 802.11g HotSpot Detector + USB Adapter, but with a black-and-white soccer ball motif. It’s in celebration of the 2006 FIFA World Cup coming to Germany in June. The hardware has an LCD screen for showing details about nearby Wi-Fi signals, including the SSID, encryption type, channel and more. It will start selling in April.

The WiMax Forum has picked another interoperability testing certification lab. Telecommunications Technology Association’s (TTA) IT Testing & Certification Lab in Seoul, Korea was picked by the Forum and its first testing partner, Cetecom Laboratories in Spain. By the fourth quarter of this year, the TTA should be receiving mobile WiMax equipment based on 802.16e to test.

FireTide says it now has a distribution agreement with security/surveillance company ADI. The FireTide HotPort mesh equipment could soon be put to use as backhaul on cameras in your house or on your street corner, depending on who’s doing the installing/watching.

February 15, 2006

BlueSocket controls thick/fat/intelligent (pick one) access points from Cisco, Proxim, Avaya and 3Com now, thanks to providing open management in its BlueView Management System (BVMS). Instead of just monitoring the APs as it has in the past, the BVMS can now run patches and configure several APs at a time from a central console.

Corrent Corp. has released the SR25 security appliance, which incorporates firewall, VPN and Wi-Fi in one unit for use by small offices using Microsoft Internet Security & Acceleration (ISA) Server 2004 with little or no IT staff. The desktop unit can help protect up to 100 users, both wired and wireless, using WPA, WEP and IPsec-over-wireless encryption on the 802.11g side. It ships in March at a price of $1,900 to start.

If you own a phone that supports the Verizon Wireless 3G network called BroadbandAccess but don’t want to pay for it all over again just to get your laptop online, you may not have to. The carrier is now going to let owners of select phones — the BlackBerry 7130e, LG’s V and VX8100, or Motorola’s RAZR V3c and E815 — use them as modems. Hook the phone to the computer with a USB cable (not Bluetooth) and you’re ready to start surfing at 400 to 700 Kbps.

Dell’Oro Group says the enterprise WLAN market grew 29 percent from the last quarter of 2004 to the same time in 2006, to a total of $263 million, mainly because of WLAN switch/controllers; Cisco and Symbol are still the top two sellers of infrastructure equipment in the world. SOHO WLAN equipment also sold more, up 14 percent in sales and 33 percent in the number of units shipped. They believe that one third of all broadband subscribers now have WLANs.

Newbury Networks and Senforce Technologies have teamed to integrate the former’s location-enabled security product Wi-Fi Watchdog with the latter’s Endpoint Security Suite (ESS). Now, a business can not only force security policy on a laptop, they can tell where the laptop is when it's done — even forcing polices based on the physical location of the laptop.

Taiwanese OEM equipment maker Accton Technology has a couple of new products in the pipeline: the first is an 802.11g SDIO card made with PDC (Power Digital Card) for use in PDAs and smartphones, providing low power consumption to get those phones on Wi-Fi networks. It's supposedly also more rigid and durable than most other SDIO cards because of the PDC manufacturing process. Accton is also making a Wi-Fi  VoIP phone that will use embedded Linux software called Qtopia from Trolltech (the same software is going into Wi-Fi/GSM dual-mode phones being designed by ODM Wistron NeWeb, also of Taiwan). Neither Accton product will go into production until March of this year, and the Wistron phone isn’t due until the second quarter.

LightPointe's new FlightExpress 100 is made to bridge the gap between buildings less than 200 meters apart (so why isn’t it called the 200?). It uses free-space optical wireless to do it, getting a connection of 100 Mbps (ah, there’s the 100). The unit weighs only nine pounds, and uses PoE for electricity connections back to the main network. Two units in a point-to-point system cost $4,500 (including mounts and PoE injectors).

Belgian company Option NV claims its GlobeSurfer HSDPA for laptops is the “fastest broadband wireless router” available today, getting 1.8Mbps backhaul on a wireless 3G HSDPA connection (and then out to clients via 802.11b). The company is also selling a PC Card for laptops called the GlobeTrotter FUSION+ HSDPA which combines access to HSDPA, UMTS, EDGE and Wi-Fi all on one piece of hardware.

Terabeam’s Proxim subsidiary says its Tsunami MP.11 point-to-multipoint and point-to-point products have been outfitted to support WiMax-based QoS and fast roaming with seamless hand-off — in otherwords, the recently ratified but untested 802.16e. They’ll work in the 2.4 GHz, 5.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz frequency bands. Even older products in the QB.11 and MP.11 line can be upgraded to use the technology.

VeriWave's new WaveTest 90 is a platform to “validate the performance of enterprise class Wireless LAN systems,” while still in the development stage, all the way to production and deployment. It will make itself look to the WLAN like thousands of Wi-Fi clients so it can put the network though its paces. Inside the WaveTest are WaveBlades, each acting like hundreds of clients by itself, and each fake client can simulate unique behavior.

February 13, 2006

Aruba Networks announced a location-aware API today, and says it is demonstrating it (at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) annual conference in San Diego) with Ekahau’s location technology smart tags. The API will let third parties (like Ekahau) build support for their positioning technology into the Aruba system, using it to find out the location of clients, access points and tags in a floor plan, as well as generate maps showing interference and overall network coverage.

Stuff to see at 3GSM World Congress this week:

Novatel Wireless’ newest 3G wireless HSDPA desktop device, the Ovation MCU 2000, combines WCDMA 1.8Mbps (Megabits per second) Internet backhaul with 802.11b/g for the client side. It features the company’s OnePush security for quickly adding computers to the network while keeping out hackers, as well as a print server. The unit is backwards-compatible with UMTS, EDGE and GPRS networks as well.

Boingo Wireless is working with  BridgePort Networks and SIPquest — all members of the MobileIGNITE consortium — and the three will demonstrate their work in MobileVoIP at the show. It will feature Boingo’s Wi-Fi toolkit for smartphone handsets that run Windows Mobile while on a GSM network. The toolkit will also be part of Linux-based dual-mode smartphones from Chinese company E23 Limited.

Sometime in the third quarter of 2006, BT’s Fusion service will one of the first to commercially offer a phone — the Motorola A910 — supporting Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) that supports both cellular and Wi-Fi. BT says the phones will seamlessly connect to BT Fusion Broadband connections using Wi-Fi at home, BT OpenZone hotspots using Wi-Fi, or the BT  mobile voice service using GSM/GPRS/EDGE while out and about. The Linux/Java-based phone also plays MP3s and has a 1.3 megapixel camera.

Nokia has announced a new phone with UMA support, the 6136. It will initially be used by European mobile provider Orange to bridge between GSM and Wi-Fi, when the phone becomes available in the second quarter of this year. This phone also has a 1.3 megapixel camera, this one with 8x digital zoom, and has a microSD memory card slot and built-in FM radio.

February 10, 2006

Telematics (in-car tech) company WebTech Wireless will debut products at 3GSM World Congress next week that bring wireless to the car. They include the WT1800 Mobile Access Point, which connects to a WebTech Cellular Locator, putting a Wi-Fi hotspot in the car for use by laptops and PDAs. The Locator, also in the car, connects to a cellular GSM network and stores telemetry location, such as the location of the vehicle at certain times; this info is in turn uploaded to servers when the vehicle returns home and logs on to the local Wi-Fi network. The Locator uses the GSM as Internet backhaul for the WT1800.

Atheros is working with Qualcomm, collaborating on integrating the former’s single-chip Radio-on-Chip for Mobile (ROCm) Wi-Fi chip with the latter’s Mobile Station Modem (MSM) chipsets, specifically the MSM6550 for CDMA2000 networks and the MSM6280 chipset for WCDMA (UMTS) networks. In short: putting voice over Wi-Fi on cell phones from OEMs and ODMs. It won’t be ready for products until June, but they’ll show it in action at 3GSM next week.

February 9, 2006

TRENDnet will have available a new line of antennas both directional and omni-directional, for use on its 802.11a/b/g equipment, either directly or via a cable to get an optimum position and rotation. The line includes high gain dual-band versions with wall/ceiling mounts, indoor/outdoor units in a weatherproof container;  purely outdoor versions (one with up to 19 dBi gain and a 4,000-yard point-to-point range), all with cables sold separately to connect to Reverse SMA or N-Type Male connectors. Dual band units are out now; the rest will ship in April.

Senza Fili Consulting, experts in the world of WiMax and wireless broadband, say in a new report that the current technology — fixed WiMax based on 802.16-2004 — will dominate, but not without some struggle. Eventually, however, mobile WiMax based on 802.16e will kick its butt, thanks to better performance and economies of scale, even though it won’t be around until at least 2007. Report author Monica Paolini says 57 percent of WiMax use will be on 802.16e by 2010. Just don’t expect it from the mobile operators with 3G networks — they’ll be sticking with their own technology. WiMax will come from providers getting into the market for the first time. By 2010, WiMax (fixed and mobile) will be used by 15.4 million subscribers across the globe, bringing in $16.5 billion US in revenue.

February 1, 2006

Kyocera Wireless says its KR1 Mobile router, which uses an Evolution Data Optimized (EV-DO) broadband connection for backhaul to make a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot, is ready for retail. It takes an EV-DO PC Card  (such as Kyocera's own Passport card) so it can be used to connect to network such as that owned by Verizon Wireless. It will even connect via USB to some EV-DO capable handsets, using the phone as a modem. The hardware is $300, or $50 less if you can prove you also bought the Kyocera EV-DO card. It will actually be branded with the logo of Kyocera's development partner, D-Link. Options will include power adapters for the house or the car, and a spare antenna.

Apparently, Lenovo is spreading the wealth, as Sierra Wireless says its MC8755 PCI Express Mini Card embedded module will also be found in European ThinkPad notebook models T60 and X60 to provide HSDPA/UMTS connectivity. Yesterday, Novatel announced much the same thing.

Not surprisingly, Wi-LAN of Calgary, Canada, an original member of the WiMax Forum, said today it's getting out of the business of making products, and will "focus on building the value of its core broadband wireless intellectual property business." The company, which owns patents covering such things as Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM), the modulation used in 802.11a and 11g, has sued companies as big as Cisco Systems in the past, using the Canadian courts. That lawsuit ended last year in December with Cisco agreeing to buy out some of Wi-LAN's antenna- and WiMax-related patents. Wi-LAN says the equipment business was not profitable, and it hopes to sell its broadband wireless product line to someone. 

The CWNP Program certification called Wireless# (pronounced as "wireless sharp"), announced in October 2005, which makes sure technicians are proficient with not just Wi-Fi but also technologies such as Bluetooth, WiMax, ZigBee, RFID, VoWLAN, and even Infrared (IrDA), is now published and ready for testing at Pearson VUE or Prometric test centers. It breaks down to cover technologies and standards, hardware installation, and applications & security in relatively equal parts, with a bit left over for radio frequency (RF) fundamentals. They call it an "entry level IT certification that tests knowledge of a broader range," compared to the CWNA certification, which is specific to medium/large-scale enterprise WLAN installations. The cost will be $125.

SOHOware has new gateways for use by campuses or in hospitality settings to provide wireless access to customers. The AeroGate models include the WLH6000 Internet Subscriber Gateway for hotels and apartment dwellings where as many as 400 concurrent users may be present, while the WLH9000 Access Service Gateway is for service providers who might support up to 1,500 users at once on a campus or in a large building. Later this year, the company will add a controller for running such products remotely from a network operations center (NOC). The line of products handles all the AAA and supports multiple subnets to keep public and private traffic separated. The company says its AeroHotSpot WLH3000 hotspot gateway is complementary, and could be used in hotel or business lobbies.

Comment and Contribute
(Maximum characters: 1200). You have
characters left.