Wi-Fi Product Watch, May 2009

By Wi-Fi Planet Staff

May 28, 2009

RFaxis debuts first fully integrated, single-chip, single-die Bluetooth/Zigbee RFeICs; Nokia launches Ovi app store; Aruba wins Best of Interop; Windows Mobile synch service starts public beta; Yahoo! focuses on apps for Apple iPhone; Mobile VoIP set to impact cellular mobile; Motorola announces 802.11n branch office products, with voice; Ekahau adds Wi-Fi spectrum analysis to site survey tool; and more.

Fabless semiconductor company, RFaxis, announced Thursday the debut of its first two chips, the RFX2401 and the RFX2402. According to RFaxis, both chips offer a replacement for traditional RF front-end modules, combining all the functionality into a single-die, single-chip solution for Bluetooth, Zigbee, and WLAN applications.

The chips leverage BiCMOS technology and are designed to "reduce the complexity of wireless designs, lower manufacturing costs, provide superior performance, and offer improved power efficiency over conventional front-end module technologies." 

The company says the RFX2401 and RFX2402 are the first and only fully integrated, single-chip, single-die Bluetooth/Zigbee RFeICs (Front-end Integrated Circuit) on the market.

"In the midst of a burgeoning wireless market and at a time when the economic climate demands efficient expenditures, RFaxis was founded with one mission in mind: to create highly integrated semiconductor solutions that will reduce cost while simultaneously boosting performance," noted Mike Neshat, president and CEO of RFaxis in a statement Thursday. "We have effectively reduced the complexity of wireless designs, making our breakthrough technology a compelling value proposition to OEMs."

The RFX2401 and RFX2402 are now sampling.

May 26, 2009

Nokia Ovi Store
Nokia today opened its mobile application store both here and overseas with an eye to stealing share from players like Apple--despite initial reports of performance issues and confusion over availability in the U.S.

The world's top phone maker said the estimated 50 million Nokia phone owners can begin downloading apps, games, videos, podcasts, location-based services and more through their mobile browsers, courtesy of its new Ovi Store.

The Ovi Store consolidates Nokia's existing content services into a one-stop-shop for free and paid content. It also advances Nokia's vision for its larger array of mobile services, which it's also been marketing under the name Ovi--the Finnish word for "door."

Despite frequent efforts to ramp up Ovi, it's thus far failed to gain the same traction as mobile services from Google, Yahoo and individual carriers' sites. In more recent months, as Apple's iPhone has emerged on the scene as a dominant force in mobile apps, the device's App Store has also eclipsed Nokia's efforts, establishing itself as the player to beat in downloadable apps. More details at InternetNews.com.

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Aruba Networks' new 600 Series Branch Office Controllers (BOCs) was the winner of the 2009 Best of Interop Awards in the Wireless and Mobility category.

Designed to be a “branch-in-a-box” solution for offices with up to 256 users, Aruba says its BOCs offer a broad range of WAN connectivity, network-attached storage, gigabit Ethernet, power-over-Ethernet (PoE), Express Card, and USB options, and an integrated 802.11n Wi-Fi radio.

More than 160 products vied for recognition as Best of Interop award winners. The Wireless and Mobility category was judged by Michael Brandenburg of InformationWeek and David Molta of Syracuse University. 

“The 600 Series Branch Office Controllers represent a major advancement in remote networking, offering a feature-rich branch office solution that works independently or can be centrally managed,” said Keerti Melkote, Aruba’s co-founder and chief technology officer in a statement Friday. “By minimizing the complexity, expense, and IT overhead associated with traditional branch office solutions, the 600 series helps contain capital and operation expenses--a welcome relief in today’s economic environment.”

In addition to the 600 Series Branch Office Controllers, the VBN solution includes new software for data center-based Aruba Controllers, and two new families of wired and wireless RAPs. One of the new RAPs, the RAP-2, has a U.S. list price of just $99, which Aruba says makes it the least expensive, centrally managed enterprise branch networking solution on the market.

More on Interop 2009 here and here.

May 20, 2009

Microsoft announced Tuesday that its upcoming My Phone data synching service for smartphones running Windows Mobile 6.0 and later has entered broad public beta testing. Previously, My Phone had been in a limited beta test with selected users.

Set to launch when Windows Mobile 6.5 phones start to appear later this year, Microsoft's My Phone will provide services similar to those in Apple's MobileMe, such as synchronizing and backing up data between the users' phone and the My Phone Web site, where the data is stored in the user's cloud service.

My Phone debuted at the Mobile World Congress 2009 in mid-February in Barcelona, Spain, along side Microsoft's coming Windows Marketplace for Mobile App Store competitor.

The service will let users manage the information on their Windows Mobile phones via a Web browser, according to statements on Microsoft's My Phone site. For more, read the full story at InternetNews.com.

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Amid Yahoo!'s efforts to strengthen its hand in mobile search, it's paring down its smartphone application development efforts, enabling it to concentrate instead on apps for the Apple iPhone.

Beta testers of Yahoo!'s mobile Java-based app this week received an e-mail stating that Yahoo! "ceased development" of the application and that, for now, the company will "focus efforts on the newly launched Yahoo! Mobile experience for browsers and for the iPhone," according to reports.

Yet Yahoo! officials said that the company isn't entirely abandoning the effort to create mobile apps for other platforms, and reports indicate that it may be planning to create one with a different design than the one it just scrapped.

Yahoo! spokespeople did not return requests for additional comment on the news. More details at InternetNews.com.

May 18, 2009

Greenwood Village, Colorado-based Vixxi Solutions has advanced the technology used to locate wireless callers by implementing reverse geo-coder technology when callers dial 911.

Most of the E911 technology in today's wireless phones use a form of mapping called radiolocation, or finding location through the use of radio waves, but the operator doesn't get access to the caller's physical address. This is a critical short coming for those carriers that do not have a mapping system for those unable to tell an operator their location due to the nature of the emergency

This changes with the new Vixxi system, as it allows operators to get specific location information without a mapping system.

Reverse Geo-Coder works by obtaining a device's coordinates from either its GPS or PDE (position determination equipment) signal, working both indoors and out, and reverse-codes that point into the closest physical address of the caller and sends it with the data record to public safety answering points.

For more on Wi-Fi and geolocation, read:

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EnterpriseVoIPPlanet reports that a recent report forecasting more than 50 percent of mobile calls using end-to-end voice over IP by 2019 "should be a wake-up call for wireless carriers, who will soon be watching cell phone users slip away. For enterprises already migrating to IP PBX, the news is prompting a second look at ways to integrate its employee communications, both in the office and on-the-road."

"'Large vendors are taking a new look,' said Ed Cox, marketing vice president at Varaha Systems, a Dallas, Texas-based developer of the fixed/mobile convergence product uMobility, which links cell phones and offices through a Wi-Fi VoIP network rather than a more expensive cellular carrier when the Wi-Fi network is available."

For the rest of the story, click here.

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Motorola today announced its 802.11n Wireless Enterprise Branch Office Solution, which "allows customers to quickly deploy resilient, secure, and voice-enabled branch office wireless LANs."

According to today's press release out of Interop, "By combining innovative multi-service adaptive mesh access points and unique features of Motorola's Wireless Next Generation (Wi-NG) architecture, organizations can greatly reduce operational costs associated with deploying, managing, securing, and troubleshooting WLANs at distributed sites. With this solution, customers can also leverage Motorola's fixed wireless broadband portfolio to wirelessly connect remote locations and eliminate recurring leased line costs, or empower branch office workers with voice and data mobility by deploying the TEAM VoWLAN solution."

Stay tuned for more in-depth coverage later this week.

May 15, 2009

Wi-Fi-based Real Time Location Systems (RTLS) provider, Ekahau, announced Thursday that it will be adding Wi-Fi spectrum analysis capabilities to the Ekahau Site Survey solution.

The spectrum analyzer allows users to detect and visualize interference issues, which can impact network throughput and performance, from devices that cannot generally be detected with standard Wi-Fi adapters, such as wireless video cameras, cordless phones, radar, Bluetooth devices, and microwave ovens.

The dual-band spectrum analyzer can analyze both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequency bands.

More details available from Ekahau.

See also:

May 14, 2009

Verizon Wireless, a venture of Verizon Communications and Vodafone Group, will start selling Hewlett-Packard's netbook computers starting May 17, according to a statement from Verizon Wireless.

The netbook is priced at $199.99 after a $50 mail-in rebate and with a new two-year activation on a mobile broadband plan, the statement said.

The netbook will have a Windows XP Home edition operating system and will weight 2.4 pounds, Verizon said. The service plan will begin at $39.99 for monthly access, it said.

The still-evolving netbook market is growing thick with players from all over the tech sector. Wireless carriers, such as AT&T are helping lead the charge, while graphics chipmaker nVidia, wireless chipmaker Qualcomm and Freescale Semiconductor have all designed ARM-based processors that can be used in netbooks. For the full story at InternetNews.com, click here.

May 13, 2009

Sprint announced today that it will launch the Novatel Wireless MiFi 2200 "intelligent mobile hotspot device" ($99.99 after a $50 mail-in rebate with a new two-year service agreement) in the first week of June.

The MiFi 2200 will allow users to connect to the Internet by bridging Wi-Fi-enabled devices, such as laptops, MP3 players, and gaming devices to Sprint's cellular data network (EVDO Rev A Sprint Mobile Broadband Network).

Sprint will launch the service as "Sprint Mobile Hotspot." It says it wiill be the first U.S. carrier to support MiFi's GPS capabilities, allowing users to take advantage of select location and mapping applications.

Check back for our review in June.

May 11, 2009

News leaked out today of Meraki’s new enterprise-grade solution, which includes the industry’s first cloud-based controller. According to a member of Meraki’s public relations team, news of the Meraki Enterprise Wireless LAN system, which was scheduled to be announced tomorrow, was released today when an e-mail was accidentally sent to “a small number” of existing Meraki customers.

The new line is built to serve businesses with anywhere from 50-5,000 employees in spaces up to 500,000 square feet. Pricing ranges from $3,000-$75,000, which Meraki says soundly beats competing solutions by at least 50% in every case.

In additon to the Meraki Enterprise Cloud Controller, the new line also includes two new 802.11n wireless access points, the single radio MR11 and the dual radio MR14. Meraki says its MR11 is capable of up to 300 Mbps and the MR14, up to 600 Mbps. Both are optimized for high-bandwidth content, such as voice and video.

Pre-orders begin Tuesday, with shipments starting June 2nd, 2009. The Enterprise product line will be unveiled to the public at Interop Las Vegas May 19th-21st at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. To promote the product line, CEO Sanjit Biswas says the company will be giving away a few networks at the convention.

For our full coverage of the announcement, click here.

For more recent Meraki news, read “New Wi-Fi Innovations from Meraki.”

May 7, 2009

Starting at the end of next week, T-Mobile USA will begin rolling out Android 1.5 to T-Mobile G1 customers. The over-the-air update, which all G1 customers should receive by the end of May, will include new feature enhancements and updates, such as an on-screen full QWERTY keyboard, video record and playback, and easy uploading of photos to Picasa and videos to YouTube.

 Additional details on Android 1.5 can be found at the T-Mobile G1 forum at http://forums.t-mobile.com/tmbl/?category.id=Android or via the Android site: http://www.android.com/releases/.

See also:

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Verizon announced today the release date of its pocket-sized MiFi 2200 Intelligent Mobile Hotspot ($149.99 with a new two-year customer agreement).: May 17.

Developed by Novatel Wireless, the MiFi 2200 lets customers create a personal Wi-Fi cloud using the Verizon Wireless 3G Mobile Broadband network as backhaul. The MiFi 2200can support up to five Wi-Fi-enabled devices at a time.

Measuring 3.5” x 2.3” x 0.4” and weighing 2.05 ounces, the portable hotspot creator features integrated internal CDMA and Wi-Fi antennas, as well as "advanced" security and authentication technologies. Verizon says that the MiFi 2200’s rechargeable battery provides up to four hours of active use and 40 hours of standby time on a single charge for one wireless client.

The MiFi 2200 will be available online and in Verizon Wireless Communications Stores for $99.99 after a $50 mail-in rebate with a new two-year customer agreement. Two contract pricing plans are available: $39.99 monthly access for 250 MB monthly allowance and 10 cents per megabyte overage; $59.99 monthly access for 5 GB monthly allowance and 5 cents per megabyte overage.

Customers can also use the MiFi 2200 with Verizon Wireless’ Mobile Broadband DayPass for $15 for 24-hour access when the device is purchased at full retail price without a monthly service plan. 

Check back for our review by Lisa Phifer.

May 6, 2009

Wi-Fi-friendly carrier, T-Mobile, announced this week it is is introducing T-Mobile Wi-Fi Calling for Business, a new enterprise solution that allows business customers and their employees to make unlimited nationwide calls over Wi-Fi for just $10/month. Businesses with more than 100 lines of voice and data service may use BlackBerry smartphones from T-Mobile to receive free Wi-Fi calling nationwide and from abroad to the U.S., as well.

T-Mobile offers enterprise-grade Wi-Fi calling (through Unlicensed Mobile Access technology) over Wi-Fi at work, at home, at locations within the T-Mobile HotSpot network, or any ‘open’ Wi-Fi hotspot. When subscribers roam beyond a hotspot or WLAN access point, their calls (ideally) will seamlessly transfer onto T-Mobile’s cellular network. 

T-Mobile has also integrated the new BlackBerry Mobile Voice System (MVS) into its enterprise offering. T-Mobile says this new service will allow customers to rely fully on one of T-Mobile's handful of  Wi-Fi enabled BlackBerry smartphones, eliminating the need for a desk phone.

Announced Monday, BlackBerry Mobile Voice System (MVS) Server for Cisco Unified Communications Manager,is a new version of BlackBerry MVS Server that is optimized for use with Cisco Unified Communications Manager version 6.1 or later. It was developed by RIM as part of Cisco’s Technology Developer Program and features deeper integration with BlackBerry Enterprise Server and direct SIP integration between Cisco Unified Communications Manager and BlackBerry MVS Server for "improved manageability, scalability, and ease of deployment."

For more on VoWi-Fi, visit our VoIP section or visit our sister site, EnterpriseVoIPPlanet.com.

Related stories:

May 5, 2009

Eye-Fi today announced that users can now upload videos directly from their digital cameras to Picasa Web Albums, Photobucket, or SmugMug, in addition to YouTube or Flickr, without ever having to turn on their computer.

"Picasa users will be excited to know they can now upload videos via Eye-Fi to Picasa Web Albums," said Brian Axe, director of product management at Google in a statement. "Many of our users were already automatically uploading their photos to Picasa Web Albums with their Eye-Fi cards and now can upload videos just as effortlessly, directly to their albums."

The 4GB Eye-Fi Share Video and Eye-Fi Explore Video cards can upload photos and videos directly to the computer and to one of more than 25 online photo and video sharing sites. The Eye-Fi Explore Video card automatically geotags photos and videos with location information about where the moment was captured, and offers hotspot access from more than 10,000 Wayport and open hotspot locations in the U.S. to upload away from home.

For more on Eye-Fi, read "Eye-Fi Announces New Version with Geotagging and Hotspot Access," "Review: Eye-Fi Explore," "Eye-Fi in Beta, Gets Money."

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iPass today announced its first enterprise-configurable Wi-Fi hotspot solution for Apple iPhone and iPod touch.

Existing iPass subscribers can download the new iPassConnect mobility manager software and use the username and password they already have to access iPass's 100,000+ Wi-Fi hotspots in 92 countries.

New versions of iPassConnect mobility manager software for devices running Apple Mac OS X and Nokia S60 operating systems were also released today.

iPass Mobile Office currently supports Windows Vista, XP and 2000, Max OS X 10.4 and 10.5, Symbian S60 Third Generation devices (versions 9.0, 9.1, and 9.2), Windows Mobile 5, 6 and Pocket PC 2003, and the iPhone, iPhone 3G and iPod touch.

More on iPass here: "iPass Offers Worldwide Hotspot Access to SMBs and Consumers."

May 4, 2009

Twitter
Gwabbit, an e-mail utility for Microsoft Outlook users that's designed helps simplify contact management, will soon be available to BlackBerry users. Gwabbit for Blackberry was announced today with release slated for May 25. The program will cost $9.95 a year on an annual subscription basis.

Technicopia, publishers of Gwabbit, positions it as the world's first automatic e-mail contact manager (ECM) for a hand-held device. Todd Miller, president and founder of Technicopia, told InternetNews.com that the BlackBerry version is already "a very advance beta" and might even ship a bit sooner than May 25.

Gwabbit (rhymes with "grab it") is designed to automatically search and identify signatures embedded in e-mails on a BlackBerry device and adds or updates that information to the Blackberry address book in a single click. For those users syncing their contacts to Outlook, Gwabbit's automated capture is designed to keep contacts updated globally.

Basically, Gwabbit simplifies what is usually a much longer manual, copy-and-paste process to update contact lists in Outlook or on a BlackBerry device. For more details from InternetNews.com, click here.

May 1, 1009

Proving that even popular technology isn't immune from the recession, IDC research released today said the mobile phone market took a pretty good hit in the first quarter of 2009.

IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker report says vendors shipped a total of 244.8 million units in the first quarter of 2009 (1Q09), approximately 15.8 percent lower than the 290.8 million units shipped during 1Q08.

Although shipments in the first quarter of a new year are typically lower than the quarter preceding it, since it includes the holiday gift giving season, IDC said this decline was especially sharp due to such factors as weak end-user demand, currency volatility, and lack of credit for merchants as consumers and the supply chain adapt to the recession.

IDC analyst Ryan Reith said the numbers were only "a bit of a surprise," since the company had forecast a 13 percent drop about a month ago. He says the sales problems were particularly acute in North America and Western Europe, where 85 to 90 percent of the population already has handsets. Read the full story at InternetNews.com.

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Mobile VoIP comes to BlackBerry today, courtesy of an app by international mobile communications company, Vopium. The free application is now available at BlackBerry App World.

According to a press release issued today, "Vopium’s award-winning technology takes advantage of 3G, GSM, Wi-Fi, and GPRS networks and doesn’t limit users to just using Wi-Fi hotspots. Vopium automatically re-routes calls via the cheapest available route, ensuring that customers are always able to save money when calling international numbers. Once downloaded, the Vopium application on BlackBerry App World seamlessly integrates with the address book. It intelligently recognizes international numbers and automatically re-routes calls without the need for user input. When an international number is dialed, the call is made using the cheapest method available while also preserving the highest level of call quality."

Vopium also offers a VoIP app for iPhone and is compatible with more than 500 mobile devices across all OS's, including Windows Mobile, Symbian, and Java.

Users that download and register Vopium from BlackBerry’s App World, will receive 30 minutes of free calls and 30 text messages (SMS). To view a step-by-step registration guide for the BlackBerry, visit http://vopium.com/visualguide-blackberry 

Vopium Wi-Fi users can call each other around the world for free. 

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