Wi-Fi Product Watch: November 2006

By Wi-Fi Planet Staff

November 29, 2006

The latest and greatest Wi-Fi stuff.

Sana Security says its new Primary Response Air Cover software for Windows XP protects against “wireless exploits such as sniffing, hijacking and malware.” The software is meant for use by both enterprises with mobile workers and individual consumers using remote access to the Internet such as hotspots. The software is $25 but has a free 15 day trial you can download.

Tropos Networks is working with Narad Networks to make their products interoperable. This means mesh equipment from Tropos will connect via Ethernet-over-coax from Narad, giving cable operators a chance to compete as WISPs by hooking the Tropos mesh into a cable infrastructure. Narad provides 100 Mbps bandwidth symmetrically when connected back to a Narad Ethernet switch; they also have 1Gigabit connections on Ethernet-over-Fiber connections.

November 27, 2006

Ruckus Wireless is already announcing plans for its demonstration at the January 2007 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Vegas. They plan to show what they call “Smart-N,” which combines Ruckus’s smart antennas (BeamFlex) and quality-of-service traffic software (SmartCast) with 802.11n (via Atheros XSpan chips) to deliver better data, audio, and video throughput in home networks. They’ll broadcast three high definition video streams to Smart-N receivers hooked to HD set-top boxes. They’ll also show video over 802.11a/g and voice on dual-mode handsets for good measure.

Bountiful WiFi will bundle its Bountiful Router with the SX-650 NetGuard WiFi network access control device and the S1 biometric fingerprint reader from silex technology america. They claim the USB-based S1 has better accuracy by using RF technology to “scan the inner layer of the skin” for data points. The SX-650 supports security like WPA2 and 802.11i and 802.1X/RADIUS authentication with PEAP. Bountiful Router is deemed the “most powerful wireless Internet router allowed under FCC regulations,” by the company CEO. No word on the bundled price; the Bountiful Router sells by itself for $485 from various online resellers.

November 21, 2006

VeriWave’s platform is now ready to test mesh equipment used for campus or municipal deployments. The company’s Wireless Mesh Suite will “quantify client capacity, validate backhaul resiliency and self healing capabilities, measure throughput at the node and network level, and characterize the quality of hundreds of voice calls,” according to a company release. Firetide is already using the suite to perform repeatable tests on its products.

November 20, 2006

estarling_new Holiday gifts always include photos, but who wants them on paper when you can have them in a digital frame powered by Wi-Fi? eStarling’s is the latest, a 7-inch LCD in a frame that connects to 802.11b/g networks (with WEP encryption, no WPA) to download images from the Internet (from emails set to the frame or RSS feeds from sites like Flickr) or using a memory card. No PC is required for it to run, but you need a Windows 2000/XP computer to set it up. ThinkGeek sells them for $250.

SMC Networks has new accessories for its Skype Wi-Fi phones -- specifically, cradles for charging them -- but one of the cradles includes an access point. The cradle alone is $20, with AP inside is $70. The phones (model SMCDPCR) are $180.

November 16, 2006

Patent fun! The techniques used by just about every WLAN in the world were patented back in 1996 by an Australian governmental body named CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation). With a U.S. patent, no less. In 2005, CSIRO sued Buffalo Technology for infringing upon that patent. And this week, a Texas court gave summary judgment in agreement that Buffalo infringed. Other companies have brought two suits (Netgear, HP and Microsoft in one; Intel and Dell in another) trying to get the patent invalidated. Meanwhile, CSIRO plans to go after cash royalties from other infringers. Which is just about everyone in the WLAN game.  The court will determine the royalty rate. And I'm sure they'll pass the savings on to you... 

Who loves mesh? Cities big and small, that’s who. Dell’Oro Group’s latest report says U.S. municipalities are on track to spend $90 million on such network equipment this year. Tropos Networks led the market in the third quarter of 2006 at 23%. The overall growth is attributed to small cities realizing they can go wireless -- they move faster than big locations and have fewer incumbent providers complaining about the new services.

Worried about the Broadcom driver exploit announced last week? If you’ve got an 802.11 network card from Dell that’s under threat (see the list), they have issued a patched driver. It’s a measly little 52 MB download. That’s right, fifty-two.

ViewSonic is rolling out 25 products this quarter, and the latest to include Wi-Fi is the V212 Wireless Tablet Client. It runs 802.11b/g on a unit with a 10-inch touchscreen LCD used to access data and video over the network, with the primary uses being healthcare, home automation control and warehouse inventory tracking. It runs Microsoft CE.Net framework on an Intel Bulverde processor.

More potential patent fun: PCTEL has received a patent (U.S. 7,133,669, “Systems and Methods for Seamless Roaming Between Wireless Networks”). It covers, obviously, roaming from one wireless network to another. More specifically, cellular to Wi-Fi, without dropping data connections or voice calls, whether performed manually or automatically, based on their client software. Will this give them a big piece of fixed/mobile convergence pie or several trips to the courts, since there’s already a lot of players doing this very thing already? Only time will tell.

Meru Networks' AP-200 access points were already certified by the Wi-Fi Alliance for interoperability with other Wi-Fi products, but that wasn’t good enough for Meru. They resubmitted the product to make sure it conformed to all the latest tests for 802.11a/b/g and security with Wi-Fi Protected Access 2.0 (WPA2). And they passed, in case you were worried.

November 15, 2006

Synergy Research Group says WLAN sales came very close to $1 billion in the third quarter of 2006. That’s up 10% from Q2, and 20% from Q3 in 2005. Consumer sales, usually the big growth area in Wi-Fi equipment, finally are taking a back seat to enterprise products, which had a record 19% uptick. Cisco and Aruba have the top two positions for equipment sales to businesses; the #4 company was a surge ahead from HP Pro Curve, which increased sales quarter to quarter at a rate of 70%. Consumer products still held 58% of the total market; Linksys and Netgear are number one, but only Linksys saw growth.

Xirrus is building a firewall into its Wi-Fi Array. It will “block ports and protocols to and from any source, destination, SSID, network or user,” to provide control over applications in use, as well as preventing clients from accessing other clients using the same radio on the array. The units already come standard with 802.1X authentication and rogue AP detection, and works with Network Chemistry to handle advanced IDS/IPS.

Zensys, creators of the Z-Wave tech for low-power wireless home controls, is releasing its third generation chip. The new ZW0301 chip allows battery power only for both receiving and transmission of signals, costs less, and works with all the previous Z-Wave chips. The tech also got a noteworthy new member in its Z-Wave Alliance: Hawking Technologies will be building Z-Wave into future products.

November 14, 2006

Symbol Technologies has upgraded the WS5100 wireless switch, part of the company’s Wireless Next Generation (Wi-NG) architecture. Version 3.0 enables deployment of APs using Layer 2 or 3 (with L3 mobility as users move from AP to AP) and the clustering of switches. It now sports an IPSec virtual private network (VPN) gateway and intrusion detection.

After what seems like years of waiting, we have achieved ZigBee. The ZigBee Alliance announced today that the first ZigBee Certified Products, used for creating a wireless mesh control system, are now available. Similar to what the Wi-Fi Alliance does for 802.11b, these products are from various original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and tested for interoperability before they can show the ZigBee logo. Among those sporting the certification are MaxStream, NEC Engineering, S3C and Software Technologies Group. Ember, a big name in the ZigBee chip space, has also released an RF Evaluation Kit for vendors to test their products; Ember will also work with Analog Devices to make a dual-chip offering for building low power and low cost products.

Just in time for the arrival of Microsoft’s Zune player with Wi-Fi, the music player that really made a splash with wireless, the Gremlin MG-1000 from MusicGremlin, has new improvements. It will now support WPA and WPA2 for security on a Wi-Fi network, offer an optional power-save mode when using wireless, and support remote control via a Web page over a wireless connection. It even has a new equalizer (if you care about that music playback feature, too.) Current users can get the free upgrade over the air when logging into the service.

Monitor maker Viewsonic has a rugged handheld line out that supports Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and barcode scanning (and some models include GPS, a camera and a biometric fingerprint scanner). The V38r-06, V38r-07 and V38r-07a products run PocketPC 2003 OS on an Intel Xscale CPU with 3.5-inch LCD screen, are completely sealed against dust and liquid for extreme environments, and even support Cisco Compatible Extensions (CCX) to facilitate easy connections to a Cisco-based WLAN. Price for the base model starts at $1,599.

Check Point VPN-1 UTM (Unified Threat Management) Edge 7.0 is an upgrade for the company’s branch office/remote site perimeter security appliance. It now supports wireless roaming from AP to AP, in addition to a new security layer for setup and support for USB modems to create a fail-over for continuous connectivity to the main office.

Fortress Technologies’ FC-X Series controllers now have Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 140-2 level 2 certification from NIST. The product works across all types of wireless (WiMax, Wi-Fi, FSO, satellite, you name it) to secure communications for thousands of users at a time.

November 10, 2006

Newbury Networks has been quiet this year, but that changed this week when the company announced a new product called the Newbury Location Appliance, an actual bit of hardware that goes in the wiring closet to provide positioning capabilities. It's a direct competitor to Cisco's own 2710 Location Appliance, though Newbury says it doesn't really want to compete with Cisco. Instead, the company says, it wants to work on and with all WLAN infrastructures. That said, Newbury isn't shy about claiming it can do in-room precision locating at 10 meters with 99.999% accuracy (compared to Cisco's 90%), tracking over 2,000 devices per appliance. Inside the $15,000 box is version 6.0 of Newbury's real-time location system (RTLS). What's more, the company also has its first OEM deal: Trapeze Networks will be making something in the future that builds in Newbury's technology... in some way.

If you use the Firefox browser, you may have heard of the extension called GSpace. It allows you to use your Gmail account's storage space of almost 3 gigabytes for FTP-like online storage. Last week, the extension got bought by Wi-Fi service company FON. They'll be integrating it in their FON Liberator, a new router device to come in 2007 that will combine Wi-Fi access with online storage for any product that connects to the Liberator, from PCs to iPods.

Speaking of OEM deals, Extricom's Interference-Free Wireless LAN switching system, which the company says "eliminates the co-channel interference that plagues traditional WLAN systems, to deliver seamless and zero-latency mobility," will be used by ZyXel in building future products targeting small to medium sized businesses (SMBs).

FireTide is calling its new HotView Controller software the first for a mesh platform that manages mobility on the network. It's for Linux-based computers, and handles everything from camera surveillance to VoIP calls, plus mobile access for mobile workers, naturally, all as the devices move around the mesh. It's bundled with the FireTide HotView Pro management software, and future editions will include auto provisioning of FireTide mesh nodes.

Fixed/Mobile Convergence (F/MC), otherwise known as the combining of cellular with Wi-Fi networks for seamless hand-off of voice calls, will be big. $450 million will be spent on building an infrastructure to support it over the next five years, says ABI Research. By 2011, carriers could be making $97 billion (with a B) in revenue from such services.

Broadcom isn't the only chipmaker with Draft-N chips in Lenovo laptops. Atheros XSpan silicon will be an option in ThinkPad T60, R60, X60 and Z61 models. The company also announced last week that it will provide software to be integrated in the Microsoft Windows Embedded CE 6.0 operating system used in handsets and PDAs with the Atheros Radio-on-Chip for Mobile (ROCm), both the dual-band (11a/b/g) and single-band (11b/g) versions.

AirTight Networks says the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has granted the company a second patent (application no. 11,281,133, a continuation of no. 7,002,943) that strengthens their intellectual property position (meaning they can sue, or defend suits, from arch-rival and nemesis AirDefense). At the same time, the company says the USPTO will hear a patent interference case filed by AirDefense regarding 7,002,943. Time to see the judge. At least one case between the two has been settled — but it was over a customer list that fell into AirTight's hands when it hired some former AirDefense personnel; it had nothing to do with their technology.

Fluke Networks' new handheld unit, the EtherScope Series II Network Assistant, finds rogue devices in a quarter of the time, according to their tests. Of course, it also tests wired LANs and WANs with RFC 2544 test procedures, using its 802.11a/b/g or 10/100/Gigabit connections.

November 9, 2006

Broadcom's got its Draft-N chips (dubbed Intensi-Fi) in the new Lenovo laptops, and another chipset (BCM1161 mobile VoIP processor and BCM4318E AirForce One 54g chip) for Skype phones, which Buffalo Technology will be using with its xChange VoIP software. Good wins, but perhaps most impressive is the announcement of the 54g tech getting built into a single chip design called BCM5354 that includes the 2.4GHz 11g radio, MAC and baseband, Fast Ethernet switching, USB 2.0 support and a MIPS processor, all on one wafer. They'll target getting the chip into low cost APs for use at homes and hotspots. It's now in mass production, and should be in products by early 2007. A reference design using the chip is available to OEMs.

Ekahau is launching version 4.0 of its Ekahau Positioning Engine (EPE) software used for tracking the location of assets and more on Wi-Fi networks. New features include higher accuracy for tracking, better scalability (up to 10,000 objects), a new Web interface for administration, a new pre-deployment site survey tool (it also works with Ekahau's separate Site Survey 2.2 product), a new API to help vendors make applications that work with EPE, and Wi-Fi tag management tools for tracking things like battery level or even pushing firmware upgrades over the WLAN. EPE 4.0 will be shipping by November 30, but a free evaluation version is out now.

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