Wi-Fi Product Watch: July 2006

By Wi-Fi Planet Staff

July 28, 2006

SlimDevices Transporter is high-end audio; JiWire has hotspot ad network; Wi-Fi more valuable than iPods; and more.

Slim Devices says the new Transporter networkable audio system will kill the CD with its audio quality. It plays Internet radio stations, and works with the Pandora online music service and the Rhapsody online music store. It connects via 10/100 Ethernet or 802.11g to your network, and plays back music in WAV, AIFF, MP3, WMA and FLAC formats. All that and more for just $1,999. The product will start shipping in September.

Hawking Technologies says the new, compact Net-Vision Wireless-G Network Camera (model HNC290G) is the first network cam to have automatic router configuration (it uses UPnP) and Web address (URL) setup, with a wizard that helps set up a static Web address for viewing the video stream online. It supports 802.11g and also Ethernet, streaming video at 30 frames per second. It will sell for $130 MSRP starting in August.

Strategy Analytics says more home wireless networks will mean more cool home network wireless toys. In the next five years, consumers will buy 950 million devices — games, music players and TVs — that connect with Wi-Fi or similar tech, almost one-third of them to be purchased in 2010 alone. The firm's Global Market Forecast  covers devices and talks about the transition from 11g Wi-Fi to the MIMO/802.11n Wi-Fi of the future, expecting 11n devices to sell 134 million units by 2010.

July 25, 2006

Wi-Fi can help you in the public restroom -- or at least keep your eyeballs occupied. Impressionaire, maker of public washroom advertising systems, will soon use the Airborne Wireless Ethernet Bridge from Quatech of Hudson, Ohio, to tie its systems into the central server for the commercials and PSAs it runs — no more running Ethernet to the water closet. The ads appear on a 12-inch flat screen display built into the wall-mounted hand dryers. The Quatech products reportedly can handle extremes of temperature (-40 to 85 degrees Celsius) as well as extra tolerance for shock and vibration caused by the dryers.

TechWorld reports that the United Kingdom telecom regulator Ofcom is thinking about allowing power limits on 2.4GHz band equipment — like 802.11b/g Wi-Fi products — to get a 10x increase. The increase would apply to 5.8GHz licensed band fixed wireless products as well. It would allow products that are currently limited to 100mW to operate at 10 watts, beyond the limits of most EU countries and the U.S (which is limited to 4 watt output for 2.4 GHz). This would let rural providers put out a stronger Wi-Fi signal to customers, meaning less equipment would have to be installed -- but it might necessitate "light licenses" for such products.

JiWire is not content to provide just a hotspot directory and software to secure your hotspot connections. The company has launched a Hotspot Advertising Network that would run on login screens and even during your surfing at the hotspot, providing eyeballs (again with the eyeballs...) to advertisers. Sony and Toshiba are the first companies putting ads on the network, and nine hotspot providers have joined so far to show the ads. JiWire's recent survey of hotspot users pegged them as having high incomes, and many plan to purchase mobile computing devices soon, making them particularly attractive to the advertisers. The network can push out geographic or even location-specific ads and track performance. Ads can range from those appearing during login and confirmation, to pop-ups, to a graphic frame that stays up full-time (which JiWire hopes will appeal to those with free hotspot services).

PanGo Networks has upgraded its Real-Time Locating System (RTLS) software, the PanOS Platform and PanGo Locator, to version 4.0. The software is used for asset tracking and other positioning-related functions. New to 4.0 are the revised user interface, better integration with third-party products, and more event-based alerts.

It's been a while since a new Wi-Fi signal locator came out, and it's nice to see the latest one inside something like a pen. The problem with the $19 Informatica Wi-Fi Pen with LED Beam is that it's limited to 50 feet in range -- and it doesn't tell you much (it just lights up green, yellow or red, depending on the signal strength).

July 20, 2006

CIO and ITWorldCanada.com report that the Toronto Board of Health is going to make sure Wi-Fi is safe for citizens before Toronto Hydro Telecom gets to build out service in the downtown area. At least, they'll look at existing data -- they don't plan do any field testing themselves. This is more of an update to a 1999 look at how RF effects humans, conducted when cellular signals and phones made the populace nervous, and the results were to limit RF electromagnetic fields to 100 times below the Health Canada guidelines. One Toronto Public Health spokesman says that "initial indications are that Toronto Hydro’s Wi-Fi RF would be below our recommended level."

We missed this when writing about Broadcom's Draft-N chips being made available to buyers of Dell's consumer laptops: the company says it has already sold one million of the Intensi-Fi chips that support the 1.0 draft of the 802.11n spec, in just four months.

July 19, 2006

AirDefense says corporations should be wary of employees using municipal wireless networks (just like they should be wary of using any public access that could expose enterprise data). The difference is that the corporations may be in a space overrun by the "unsecured and pervasive Wi-Fi offered by a growing number of cities across the country," according to Dr. Amit Sinha, AirDefense's CTO. Their suggested solutions are to think defensively, install more firewalls and VPNs, keep track of what laptops and other devices are doing, specify that only approved devices can get on the network, don't allow employees to use the muni Wi-Fi, and oh, yeah, buy security software. They suggest starting with the free AirDefense Personal Lite.

Fortress Technologies has released a secure wireless access point/ bridge/security gateway combo product, the ES520, geared toward national security/defense customers who need quick-to-deploy networks supporting voice, video and data. It was built with switch technology it acquired from the long-dead Legra Systems. They say it has a range of 32 miles, but is easy to configure and portable at only 3.5 pounds. Pricing wasn't announced, but the unit will be available through Fortress resellers and Government Wide Acquisition Contract (GWAC) vehicles.

Atheros is sampling new chips for Wi-Fi handsets. The AR6101 is part of Atheros' Radio-on-Chip for Mobile (ROCm) family, and comes in a version for 802.11g and another supporting dual-band 11a/g as well as full 802.11e/WMM Quality of Service, energy savings, integration of major handset functions, and even future support for the Wi-Fi Alliance's planed "Simple Config" standard for setting up easy encryption — a standard still unannounced and in the works.

Tucson, Arizona-based Cell Wireless has released a handset called the Wi-Fi Cell VoIP phone for making calls on any open Wi-Fi network, at home, office or hotspot. It works over the company's service, so calls can be made from member to member for free.

Infonetics says the market for Wi-Fi phones went up 116% from 2004 to 2005, for a total of $125.5 million worldwide, and will double again this year. It should almost triple every year, reaching $3.7 billion by 2009. That includes both enterprises, where SpectraLink leads the way with phones, and in homes where Netgear, Linksys and D-Link all have products out or on the way. All of that will pale next to dual-mode cellular/Wi-Fi handsets; they'll see the strongest growth in the Asia Pacific region.

Sony's new CPF-IX001 wireless streaming music player has micro-speakers in it. It uses 802.11b/g to talk with your router/access point, so it can access music files stored on various home PCs (it will also work over powerlines, moving network signals and electricity over the same line). It will play music from services like Windows Media, iTunes, and of course the Sony Connect service.  It will sell at SonyStyle.com and in stores starting in August for about $300.

The CWNP Program is ready to release the second edition of its CWSP Official Study Guide, which covers how to secure WLANs and pass the CWSP course for security pros. New to the second edition is coverage of intrusion prevention systems and the big one, the 802.11i security specification. It's for sale for $50 at the Web site, or as part of a $155 self-study kit that includes a voucher for taking the exam and a practice test.

Pegasus Wireless Corp. says its first product geared toward consumers, the WiJET.e, will be out in October. The unit is designed to stream video and audio to multiple remote displays. Previous version was geared to doing remote presentations using software like PowerPoint.

TapRoot Systems says its WLAN software will be made available for Symbian OS 9.x which runs smartphones. It works with 802.11 chips from major vendors including Philips, TI and Marvell, as well as a variety of bus interfaces. This follows last week's announcement from Symbian that version 9.3 of the OS will have native Wi-Fi support built in.

July 13, 2006

Which would you rather have, your iPod or your Wi-Fi connection? The Wi-Fi Alliance did a survey with Kelton Research of 551 Americans familiar with technology. 80% of respondents prefer their wireless home network to their MP3 player. Most people would also rather go without a home phone line than give up the Wi-Fi. Urbanites especially like the 802.11. Other findings: only 18% of people use Wi-Fi to fudge their whereabouts to others, 55% work from "home" (be it kitchen, bath or public space) a couple times a week, and the average time required for setting up a wireless network was 1 hour, 8 minutes.

AirTight Networks, provider of intrusion detection/prevention systems under the SpectraGuard brand, has some new partnerships. It and Extricom will both co-market each other's products. Extricom makes centrally-managed WLAN infrastructure equipment, which will also now also run SpectraGuard on top of its switch. LVL7 Systems, which makes software for wireless switches, will be combining its software with SpectraGuard Planner and SpectraGuard Enterprise, so OEMs using the LVL7 software will get the full security functions built in. They'll also do joint sales and marketing.

July 11, 2006

Columbitech's latest software release will make sure employees don't connect via costly hotspots. They have a Cost Control function in the new Columbitech Connect software that will issue warnings based on the pricing, tariffs and even the data rate the remote workers get. It also has an automated self-help tool to assist with network configuration on the client laptop, on both LANs and WLANs, even over dial-up and 3G connections.

Makers of classic point-to-point (P2P) microwave equipment don't have to worry about the coming of WiMax, FSO or other equipment. Visant Strategies says the market will be worth $3.4 billion by 2011. In fact, they think mobile wireless backhaul will help the P2P microwave industry, as will need for wireless by public safety and broadcasters, as equipment in the unlicensed bands will double between now and 2011. Two million P2P microwave radios could ship by 2009.

Equipment provider 3e Technologies International (3eTI) has been bought by EFJ, Inc. of Irving, Texas for $36 million cash and $3.6 million in escrow. 3eTI makes WLAN infrastructure equipment for government compliance supporting Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) 140-2 (now required by the Department of Defense) and the  802.11i security standard -- and it's a Cisco partner, which it will continue to be under EFJ.

Seven more companies have joined the independent MobileIGNITE consortium of fixed/mobile convergence supporters. They include Wi-Fi mainstays Colubris Networks and Meru Networks, plus Blueslice Networks, CommuniGate Systems, F1 Interop Solutions, Glenayre Messaging and Paragon Wireless. In the past seven months, MobileIGNITE has added 30 members for a total of 46 member companies.

July 10, 2006

DPH-541.jpgD-Link is now shipping the DPH-540/541 phones it had on display at shows earlier this year. The Wi-Fi/SIP handset is a clamshell design (unlike similar products from Linksys and Netgear) that comes in black or silver for about $250. It weighs 3.74 ounces, can store 100 address book entries, has caller ID on the color LCD screen and supports polyphonic ring tones. Battery life is about 70 hours on standby with three hours of talk time. There's a Broadcom chip inside. Security-wise, it supports up to WPA2 encryption. It works with the PsipTN public VoIP system coming later this year, and by supporting SIP, it will probably work with other providers such as Vonage.

Berkeley Varitronics Systems (BVS) will map Wi-Fi interference with the Honeycomb software that works with its BumbleBee spectrum analyzer hardware running on an iPAQ handheld as well as on a PC. It shows interference overlaid on a floor plan with regular radio frequency (RF) data. The company says it will show all signal sources and strengths to prevent "RF free zones" where signals won't go. Anyone buying BumbleBee gets $250 off toward buying Honeycomb.

They say it's for network administrators, so I'm sure it'll never be used nefariously... Airscanner Mobile Sniffer is Pocket PC software with support for the Ethereal packet capture format, which can grab network passwords right out of the air (as well as finding unauthorized users on the network). You just need a PDA running Windows Mobile 2003SE, Windows Mobile 2005 or above with Wi-Fi installed. There's a 30-day trial before you have to buy.

Late last year, Gartner asked 200 business technology groups in North America and Europe how they felt about WLANs, and the survey response was that 64% plan to increase wireless deployments in the next six months. 44% want it for more mobility, and 21% are in it to connect places that can't get wired (in fact, 13% thought it was less expensive than wires). Security is still their top concern. Management was second, especially for those with a network already in place or in planning stages.

MobileIGNITE says it has been picked to serve as the Market Representation Partner for the Third Generation Partnership Project 2 (3GPP2), similar to what it had with 3GPP. The group will provide "consensus market requirements" around fixed/mobile convergence (F/MC) of WLANs (the fixed) and cellular/3G technology (the mobile). Other similar partners for 3GPP2 include CDMA Development Group, IPv6 Forum, and International 450 Association.

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