Wi-Fi Product Watch: April 2006
April 27, 2006
Mazingo to offer VoWi-Fi/GSM phone; AdventNet upgrades ManageEngine; WiFitastic way to make hotspot money; and much more.
Proxim (owned by Terabeam) has new outdoor mesh products targeting citywide deployments. The dual-radio ORiNOCO AP-4000MR-LR does Wi-Fi (802.11a for backhaul, b/g for access), while the AP-4900MR-LR handles 4.9GHz communications reserved for public safety plus 11b/g (still using 11a for backhaul). The mesh protocol used supports AES encryption as well as both fixed and mobile mesh (the latter meaning with nodes on the move, such as in a car). Europe has the choice of the AP-4000MR which runs in the 5.4 to 5.7GHZ frequency bands. Proxim is pairing them with Tsunami MP.11 and MP.16 products for long-distance backhaul links. Prices for the lowest-end new ORiNOCOs start at $1,999.
Some folks in Venezuela just used a Linksys WRT54G router using the DD-WRT firmware (open source and available for download) with a souped-up antenna to get a Wi-Fi signal to travel 279 kilometers (167 miles), about 122 miles past the previous record. You can read the 27-page report here to see if you want to buy/build/borrow a parabolic antenna larger than a car to try it at home. Don't worry, there's plenty of pictures.
Mazingo, a mobile TV entertainment provider (think TV shows on your phone), says it will be selling a combo VoWi-Fi/GSM phone this summer called Mazingo Voyager. When not near an open Wi-Fi network, it will work with GSM providers like T-Mobile, Orange, 02 and Vodafone (it requires use of a SIM card supporting GSM900, GSM1800, or GSM1900 networks). No word on who provides the $7 a month VoIP service, but the company says purchasers automatically are assigned a phone number, which can be used to route calls that come in on the GSM side or vice versa, when away from the 802.11-based network.
Firetide now has a certification program in place for value-added resellers (VARs). The program includes courses with hands-on training and Webcasts to teach the latest info on the company's HotPort mesh equipment, and features two certifications requiring two days in a classroom: Firetide Certified Technical Expert (FCTE) and Firetide Certified Educator Expert (FCEE). The latter is for those who will go on to train more FCTEs. Training is already available at locations in the U.S. and China.
Plextor has a new Wi-Fi device for beaming presentations from a laptop to a projector. The $289 PX-PA15AW Wireless Projector Adapter (which also supports Ethernet) supports WEP encryption and should be available in May. It'll work with PowerPoint presentations using animation, and even for sharing extra-large image files, displaying them at 15 frames per second on screen.
EnGenius Technologies says its new PowerGear ECB-3220 is an 802.11 b/g wireless client bridge and access point which will "destroy the wireless market" by using 400mW of output power. Apparently, destroying is a good thing. It supports Power over Ethernet (PoE), WEP and WPA2, SNMP for monitoring, and has a detachable antenna.
Coming off a record quarter for the beginning of 2006, with revenues at $61.1 million (up 15 percent from last year), Wi-Fi chipmaker Atheros announced this week that it's buying ZyDAS Technology Corporation, a fabless 802.11 chip designer out of Taiwan that makes a lot of 802.11a/g USB adapter designs. They were spun out of ZyXel in 2000. This will add 70 employees to the company, most of them in R&D. The buyout will cost $23 million in cash and stock.
Look for the next Kodak camera with Wi-Fi later this year. The latest EasyShare One will be $299, but Wi-Fi will cost $99 extra. Instead of just having support for T-Mobile hotspots to upload your pictures, Kodak says it will support a protocol to work with multiple wireless ISPs.
Berkeley Varitronics Systems (BVS) has a new software product called Nectar for RF spectrum analysis. It's a combo of Windows software on a laptop (or desktop) PC using the BVS BumbleBee Reciever and Pollenator PC Interface to scan 900 MHz, 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz; 2.4, 4.9 and 5 GHz; or 2.3-5.9 GHz (you have to pick a set of frequencies when you order) constantly. It makes waveforms available as images in JPG or BMP format to show "key moments for later analysis." Nectar costs $750.
April 21, 2006
AdventNet has released a new version of its ManageEngine WiFi Manager, version 4.3.0. The software can control access points from multiple vendors, with a list of over 70 models from Cisco, D-Link, Symbol, Linksys, Avaya, Netgear and many others supported, even providing remote upgrades with some models. New this time around are 20 more APs and support for Nomadix gateways, SSH for security, and storage of backup and restore data. The software runs on Windows and Linux, and the interface is entirely Web browser based. There's a free version that can control up to three APs. The pro edition has 30-day free trial, and then subscription fees start at $495 per year; RF sensors are optional. Check out the list of supported models on AdventNet's site.
April 19, 2006
Rumors in the blogosphere (specifically at TechCrunch) say that Yahoo! may be considering a partnership with a Wi-Fi hotspot provider. A screen capture of the latest Yahoo! Messenger software shows some possible details of a service called On-The-Road, which would let people use the IM software at "30,000 Yahoo! Messenger-friendly Wi-Fi hotspots around the world." The hotspot connection software would be bundled right in with Yahoo! Messenger. If you want to get full Internet access, a premium On-The-Road account would cost $7.95 a month or $2.95 for two hours. No word on which network provider Yahoo! will work with if this gets off the ground.
SpectraLink has a new Wi-Fi handset, the Link 6020 Wireless Telephone, for its Link Wireless Telephone System (WTS) used in enterprise deployments. The new phone adds speakerphone capability and eight hours of talk time using Lithium-Ion batteries. It has IP 53 standard resistance to water and dust, and features a smaller size but bigger display screen than previous WTS handsets. It will sell for close to $700 per unit.
The Z-Wave Alliance, the industry group backing the Zensys Z-Wave technology for low-cost wireless home controls and sensors, has added a big name: Intel. Along with Monster (which initially joined last year), Intel is the first new principal member of the Alliance since it was formed in January 2005. (Other principals include Zensys, Leviton, Intermatic, Wayne Dalton, Danfoss and UEI; there are over 125 total alliance members using the technology.)
Netopia is teaming up with VeriFone to offer a hotspot Point-of-Sale product/service combo for retailers. It combines the Netopia hotspot products with a VeriPhone payment system, giving merchants the ability to control network access (who stays on, who pays, etc.).
April 12, 2006
SkyPilot Networks' mesh equipment will be paired with mobile gateways from In Motion Technology to make a joint offering for campuses and cities looking to provide not only Wi-Fi but also 4.9GHz network coverage (using the SkyPilot TriBand product announced last month), even wireless data networks using technology like EV-DO. The In Motion onBoard Mobile Gateway (oMG) 1000 is specifically for use in emergency vehicles like police cruisers and ambulances. It can be mounted in a trunk to provide on-the-move personnel with access to the emergency services network (for which 4.9GHz is reserved in the United States). If there's no 4.9GHz available, the oMG connects using EV-DO, HSDPA, Flash-ODM or other signals. The oMG in turn provides connections to in-vehicle equipment via everything from Ethernet to serial cable to Wi-Fi.
The teaching specialists at Element K will soon be distributing and teaching the CWNP Program, starting with the new update of the five-day CWNA Wireless LAN Administration course for IT pros looking to master wireless networks. Element K teaches in training centers and in the field with corporate and government customers. The company also offers courses on Cisco-based wireless.
April 10, 2006
The Wi-Fi Alliance has allied itself with CTIA-The Wireless Association to create a certification program for fixed/mobile convergence (F/MC) handsets supporting both Wi-Fi and cellular communications. Initially, the work will be focused on RF performance mapping. The work eventually will move toward testing of hand-off between disparate networks, as well as the battery life of handsets. Details won't be available for a few months, since there aren't many products to test yet. The Alliance also published a white paper on the subject called Wi-Fi Mobile Convergence: the Role of Wi-Fi Certified, which discusses the various programs they have planned for F/MC.
The Always On Wireless WiFlyer, the 802.11b/g travel router geared toward dial-up use in places without broadband, is available for $80 in a new promotion for MSN Dial-Up users. The usual price is $130. The unit also supports dial-up service from AOL, EarthLink, NetZero and Juno.
Nokia and Linksys are partnering in Europe to sell a bundle of products to include the Nokia 770 Internet Tablet and a Linksys router to promote the 'digital home.' The Linux-based tablet can use Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to connect to devices for Internet access. Users of the often-maligned tablet can find open source applications for it online at maemo.org.
Novatel Wireless says it will soon be delivering samples of PCI ExpressCards/34 supporting both EV-DO and HSDPA. The new ExpressCard slots, which are the future replacements for CardBus slots, are already available on select laptops from Apple, Dell, Sony, Toshiba and others; for instance, the Apple MacBook Pro doesn't have any PC Card slot -- only ExpressCards -- and thus doesn't support any of the current EV-DO cards. ExpressCards are smaller and faster than PC Cards, support PCI Express and USB 2.0, and are a natural for high-speed wireless broadband technologies like EV-DO (based on CDMA) and HSDPA (an upgrade for WCDMA/GSM networks).
The upcoming BroadVoice Falcon phone will support both unlimited wireless VoIP calls made at hotspots or any Wi-Fi network and priced-by-the-minute GSM calls made through providers like Cingular, T-Mobile, O2, Orange or Vodafone. The user signs up for a number with BroadVoice for the VoWi-Fi calls ($10 a month unlimited in the U.S.; $25 a month unlimited to 35 countries), but has to plug a SIM card linked to a GSM provider into the Falcon for service. The phone can then take calls on either the cellular number or the BroadVoice VoIP number. It's not true fixed/mobile convergence, since there's no hand-off from one network to the other, but it's as close as we've got for now. Look for it this summer.
Motorola said last week that its Motomesh technology will be built directly into Sony Electronics' high-end IPELA outdoor surveillance cameras, specifically the SNC-RX550N/W-MT and SNC-RX550N/B-MT models. Using Motorola Mesh Enabled Architecture (MEA) and four radios, the cameras will be sold by Motorola as the Mesh Camera Wireless Video Networking System. Four cameras with mesh cards inside and Sony's RealShot software (for remote control of pan/tilt/zoom), along with all the Motorola management tools, will run about $37,000 and should start selling in May. (At CTIA, the company also took time to show its Mobile WiMax/802.16e products, the MOTOwi4, operating in 3.5GHz.)
STMicroelectronics of Switzerland has a new dual-band Wi-Fi chip (802.11a/b/g) ready for handsets that need "ultra low power consumption," according to the company. Likewise, they have an upgrade to their 802.11b/g chip that's smaller than before. Both of them feature intelligent power management for power savings, and fast switching from sleep mode to instantly transmitting packets. Engineering samples of both chips are with key customers.
If you're looking to flash your router using the popular DD-WRT firmware, you get something extra now. The upgrade has been upgraded to include Sputnik Agent software, meaning you can take that router from ASUS, Buffalo Technology, Linksys, Motorola, or Siemens and turn it into a moneymaker for a Sputnik-powered hotspot... for free (though you'll have to pay Sputnik for the centralized services and software to run the hotspot).
April 4, 2006
If you want to make some money providing Wi-Fi to customers in your place of business (without advertisements), here's another service to help you out. WifiTastic requires use of a Linksys 802.11g router (models WRT54G, WRT54GS and WRT54GL) which you flash with WiFitastic's firmware. Set up an account, set the rates and turn it on. The company does the billing and pays you 60 percent of the revenue that comes in. WifiTastic is ready for beta testing, and if you sign up in April 2006 and buy a pre-configured WRT54GL from them for $80, once you generate $250 in total sales, they'll refund you the $80.
Aruba Networks has the claim to fame of being the first of the wireless switch vendors to get Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) 140-2 Level 2 Validation from the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) for use by the government. Specifically, the certification covers Aruba's implementation of 802.11i security using the AES-CCM encryption algorithm in hardware (as specified by NIST) on its centralized Mobility Controller, not at the access point. Without the FIPS 140-2 cert, forget getting used by the feds, which already have a bad track record with security: in a recent report on the network security at federal agencies, the government overall got a D+.
BelAir Networks has new mesh equipment. The BelAir300 access point targets mobile operators by building in a GSM base station for cellular calls (as well as the optional T1/E1 Circuit Emulation Module). The BelAir100C Wireless Multi-Service Node is a dual-radio node for outdoors deployments, for standalone or mesh use.
Zebra Technologies says it has the first mobile printers with two radios inside for redundancy, using 802.11b (via a Symbol Compact Flash card) and Bluetooth for handhelds. Printers expected to include the wireless are the RW 420 and the QL Plus series.
Tut Systems says its new XLP-6800 power-over-broadband does away with the 300-foot limit on Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) products, delivering IP connection and electricity over a line 8,000 feet long. The XLP line also works over telephone-grade wiring, which means not pulling any wires at all in some cases. The company expects XLP to be a hit with campus and even citywide security and wireless deployments. XLP products should be out in June.
The latest products out from Berkeley Varitronics Systems (BVS) include an update to the Condor Dual Band Cellular & PCS Pilot Scanner (1xRTT) so it can measure the strength of EV-DO networks; an update for the Raven PN scanner to work in Baltic region countries, Russia, Pakistan and Thailand; and mapping software called Drone that lets the iPaq-based Yellowjacket Wi-Fi measurement tool do GPS geo-coding. Download your updates today.