Newbury Networks: Boston's Location Enabling Company

By Eric Griffith

May 28, 2003

Wi-Fi doesn't have to be just about easy access -- it can be used to keep track of where users, computers, and much more are. At the forefront of this technology for both security and entertainment purposes is Newbury Networks.

Wi-Fi location enabling experts Newbury Networks have a couple of primo location for the upcoming 802.11 Planet Conference & Expo-- a booth on the exhibit floor and their headquarters right on Newbury Street in downtown Boston. The show takes place in Beantown June 25-27. And Newbury Networks' president and CEO Mike Maggio seems happy about that. He says the last 802.11 Planet show, held in Santa Clara, Calif., in December 2002, was a great opportunity for the company.

At the time, Newbury Networks -- not to be confused with the free public access Wi-Fi project -- began its foray into the security market using its location enabled network (LEN) technology. It launched WiFi Watchdog, a layered application that works with Newbury Network's Locale Sever 3.0 software platform to do live monitoring on all users and devices, and to detect intruders and rogue access points, telling administrators where to find them.

"Interest 'in-bound' in to Newbury Networks has increased by a factor of ten since we announced a focus on security," says Maggio.

Other layered add-ons for Locale Server include a Hotspot Manager and the Digital Concierge-Docent for pushing Web-based content to locations -- such as in museum tours. Museums is where Newbury Networks began, and Maggio says they still have a lot going on there, but most of the company's current efforts are on the WiFi Watchdog security program.

Maggio says they'll officially announce a new improved version 2.0 of WiFi Watchdog at the 802.11 Planet Conference & Expo. He says to expect new features in the product.

"Slowing down in the museums is good for the company," says Maggio. "But there's still interest in that technology. The Smithsonian [American Art Museum] is one of our customers, and other museums like that are showing interest."

When the LENs at the Smithsonian goes live, visitors will be able to get Compaq iPaq handhelds that connect to the LENs and delivers tour information based on where you're standing in the gallery. The museum is currently in temporary housing using the LENs, but the same technology is being built in to the permanent gallery in Washington D.C. as well.

In addition to museums and location-based security, Maggio says the company is branching out into another area: network-based provisioning on locations. He says a lot of people are buying into the new switch architectures and Newbury Networks hopes to provide the location enabling in those products.

"We're talking to almost all of them," says Maggio. They hope to announce some partnerships and customers in June, along with the new WiFi Watchdog 2.0, at the 802.11 Planet Conference.

Newbury Networks will not only be exhibiting on the show floor, it will also have speakers on hand for panel sessions. CTO and founder Matthew Gray will hold forth on The Future of WLANs while Maggio himself will be speaking about a topic near and dear to Newbury: The Location Aware WLAN.

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