May 17, 2007

Technology -- 802.11n instead of B or G?

Nice article describing the differences in the new 802.11n protocol (compared to usual B or G WiFi). Chips first appeared in Macs with Core Duo cpu. The Wi-Fi Alliance released its Draft 2.0 products today. In any case, the relevant point being that with 802.11g we were promised 54 Mbps, yet we probably only really see real through-put of 20-25 Mbps. The n protocol promises us a truly blazing 300 Mbps which being cynics we can rightly assume we won't effectively get. Turns out that's true -- we'll only see 100 Mbps... I think I can deal with that :-)

Inside 802.11n
What you need to know about the wireless networking standard Apple supports

By Glenn Fleishman

Anyone with a yen for disassembling computers—which turns out to be a disturbingly large number of people—discovered last year that Apple had jumped the gun on wireless standards by including Atheros and Broadcom 802.11n, or “N,” chips into some Intel Core 2 Duo models.

This stole some of Apple’s thunder last week at Macworld Expo when it formally announced its adoption of 802.11n and the wireless networking standard’s 100 Mbps-throughput. But what was more surprising was the company’s willingness to commit to a standard that’s a year from completion.
G, I’m having deja vu

Four years ago, Apple also went with a draft of a wireless standard, in that case 802.11g or “G.” at Macworld Expo 2003, and that didn’t seem so bad—did it?

Both G and N come out of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, or IEEE—a standards group that brings groups of engineers together to draft and refine protocols. (A third spec, 802.11a, or “A,” uses a different frequency range than B and G, which will become significant later in this article.)

But the G standard was essentially complete in its IEEE task group when Apple shipped the original AirPort Extreme gear. Several firmware upgrades were required to ensure full compliance with the final standard—approved six months later—and interoperability with other companies’ G hardware.

The N chips that Apple put in last year’s machines were based on a much earlier draft of N. That early version, Draft 1.0, has been substantially overhauled, and Draft 2.0 is slated for approval in March. There’s some concern that chips based on Draft 1.0 won’t achieve the full potential of 802.11n when it’s approved in early 2008.

It’s likely Apple received remarkable assurances about future-proofing from its chip partners, and it’s certain we will see many firmware upgrades over time as N develops. And it’s also possible that a network with N devices that all shipped in mid-2007 will outperform a set of 2006-era N devices.
Let N = faster!

The idea behind N is stated in its charter: Enhancements for Higher Throughput. When 802.11g shipped with its “54 Mbps” rated speed, many were disappointed to find that they were lucky to get 20-25 Mbps of real throughput once networking overhead was removed.

The most basic flavor of N shipped by Apple and others has a raw data rate of roughly 300 Mpbs and net throughput of 100 Mbps. This allows N to slightly exceed 100 Mbps Ethernet, still a standard in many offices. While the ratio of 100:300 seems far worse than 25:54, the number to focus on is the real throughput, not the raw data rate. (Tests of early gear by PC World and other labs reveal lots of incompatibilities among equipment, but have seen 100 Mbps throughput with similar equipment in the best cases.)

Rest of story from Macworld: Feature: Inside 802.11n, Page 1

Posted by staff at 08:16 AM

April 06, 2007

Technology -- WEP in danger

Researchers have discovered a new way of attacking Wired Equivalent Privacy that requires an amount of data "more than an order of magnitude" less than the best known key-recovery attacks. In effect, the cracking can be done within a minute, as the title of the paper suggests: Breaking 104 bit WEP in less than 60 seconds.

Specifically, only 40,000 data packets are needed for a 50 percent chance of success, while 85,000 packets give a 95 percent chance of success, according to the paper's authors: Erik Tews, Ralf-Philipp Weinmann and Andrei Pyshkin, all researchers in the computer science department at Darmstadt University of Technology in Darmstadt, Germany.

The ease of cracking WEP is nothing new; cryptanalysts showed six years ago that any WEP key can be cracked with readily available software in one minute or less. The protocol, which is part of the IEEE 802.11 wireless networking standard, was superseded by WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) in 2003, then by WPA2, another name for the full IEEE 802.11i standard.

What's new that has been missing from WEP cracking until now is that a Wi-Fi attacker no longer needs long periods of time nor much smarts, according to Wi-Fi security experts. Special Report: Securing Wi-Fi

"…To crack WEP [up until now] it 1) required a knowledgeable attacker [and] 2) took a long time," said Andrea Bittau, in an e-mail exchange. Bittau is a research fellow at the University College London and a co-author of a paper describing what had been the most effective WEP cracking technique prior to the Germans' research.

"In the past, the wait time could have been hours, whereas now, it seems to be only a few minutes," Battau said. "Thus, WEP cracking has finally made it into the 'general public' at a reasonable cost [only a few minutes]."

Thanks to this new discovery, we can expect the arrival of tools that can break WEP in 10 minutes or less by pressing a single button, Battau said. In other words, tools that can allow for walk-through hackings, whether in Wi-Fi-networked conference rooms or in the local coffee shop.

PointerAnalysts speak out on wireless security hype. Click here to read more.

Battau's Web cracking paper, published with Mark Handley of University College London and Netgear's Joshua Lackey, was titled "The Final Nail in WEP's Coffin."

When published in May 2005, the paper presented a breakthrough in WEP cracking: a novel vulnerability that allows an attacker to send arbitrary data on a WEP network after having eavesdropped only a single data packet, along with techniques for real-time decryption of data packets that can be used under common circumstances.

If that "final nail" wasn't the final nail, will this new research be the one that really puts WEP into its grave?

David Wagner, co-author of a paper on the insecurity of 802.11, said he'd like to think it's the last nail for WEP, but we're probably not going to see the end of it soon.


Posted by staff at 07:50 AM

November 11, 2006

Interesting Outdoor Goverment Kiosk

dataweb.jpgPublic Access Kiosks in Aberdeen by an organisation called 'Public Dataweb'. These units are outdoor and have an umbrella above them. Statistics on usage by the people are also pretty interesting as Entertainment and Sports dominates the usage with things like Email barely being used. The units also provide wireless WiFi download to mobiles.


The Umbrella Kiosk 2006

First introduced in April 2006 in the city centre streets of Aberdeen Scotland.

The 'i' Kiosks have dual operational viewing screens.

They generate a Wireless / WiFi service

Provide all the Public DataWeb multiple content service's.

Plus Video Email and VOIP/SKYPE Freephone telephony

A Verbot / Avatar assists and can also read out messages.

One major factor in collecting usage statistics over many years shows that when we introduced the Umbrella kiosk design usage shot up! With far less kiosks the usage on our new street kiosks rapidly exceeded the other designs. We believe this is due entirely to the open access design.

Public DataWeb usage statistics are collated and analyzed regularly.

The chart shows a typical month from a small random selection of kiosks.

The hit rates are very reasonable and are typical of the usage on the service over the past 3 years. The previous 18 months were much more erratic. This shows that access has settled down and a pattern of use has emerged, with reasonable access to council services and other citizen government facing options keeping pace with obvious top selections like entertainment, news and sport.

The statistics break down: usage by context/categories.

Importantly the usage hits are further automatically analyzed by our unique statistics profiler that generates the variable of hits that are associated with finding the exact need of the user.

Percentage of navigation against finding requirements:-

It is important to know the need itself is being satisfied e.g. for example, typically for job vacancies a person searches first by location or job category then a list of available vacancies, the links selected before reaching the target and actually finding jobs are in a percentage amount of the total links. People want the jobs not the links and probably other systems count these links as hits, they are not. The statistics show users are consistently reaching over 70% of their target need; thus the system is engaging them and providing rapid demonstrable access to their requirements.

Time in use: average time spent each session is 4.5 minutes.

Average time taken traversing links to exact need i.e. a job category is 5 seconds.

Notes; Percentage profiling also proves that genuine users are in the main as over 70% reach their choice whereas children or browsers will be mainly collected within the links rather than the results.

Weather plays a role in usage winter months and holiday periods reduce access.

In the evening the top shelter structure becomes illuminated.

The design maximises the visibility and the functionality.

It has increased usage dramatically.

Download file

Dataweb site

Sheffield Stats


Posted by staff at 02:12 PM

August 08, 2006

WiMax Moving Ahead

Sprint announces plan to build new 4G WiMax network. About four times faster than current EVDO, users will be able to download 10 minute video to wireless player in less than 100 seconds.

Sprint Embraces WiMAX

Sprint Embraces WiMAX
By Tim Scannell

Sprint Nextel (Quote, Chart) today announced plans to build a high-speed fourth-generation wireless network based on 802.16e (define) mobile WiMAX, becoming the first U.S. carrier to put its muscle and money behind this evolving technology.

Sprint Nextel President and CEO Gary Forsee said Sprint Nextel, working with Intel (Quote, Chart) , Motorola (Quote, Chart) and Samsung, will make a $1 billion investment in 2007 and nearly double that amount in 2008.

"4G is all about lighting up devices, like portable game systems, digital still and video cameras, DVD and MP3 players, diagnostic devices and navigations systems and devices you probably don't think about linking wirelessly to the Internet today," explained Forsee.

"We will link consumers to consumers and businesses to business."

The planned WiMAX network will offer download speeds ranging from 2 megabits per second (Mbps) to 4 Mbps, which is about four times faster than Sprint's EVDO 3G cellular networks.

In practicality, this means subscribers will be able to download a 10-minute video to a wireless mobile player in about 100 seconds, Forsee said.

WiMAX and other IP-based wireless technologies are roughly one-tenth the cost of cellular systems, he claimed.

Despite the performance and advantages, Foresee was careful to point out the WiMAX effort will not interfere with Sprint's plans to evolve its current EVDO (define)The WiMAX system will, however, operate over the same 2.5 gigahertz (GHz) frequencies owned by Sprint, which now serves 85 percent of the households in the top U.S. market areas, he added.

Sprint claims to be the largest provider of EVDO services in the U.S.

Partners in the company's WiMAX effort include Motorola, which already has more than a dozen mobile WiMAX trials outside the U.S., said Motorola CEO Ed Zander, who took part in the New York press conference.

One of these trials will kick off this September in Japan with broadband services provider Softbank.

The five-month deployment will test the performance, reliability and range of mobile WiMAX, as well as the speed of network hand-offs between access points, said Motorola.

As part of the trial, Motorola will provide five WiMAX access points and 25 prototype WiMAX mobile handheld devices, said Raghu Rau, Motorola's senior vice president of networking and enterprise strategy.

"The purpose of the trial is to see how WiMAX performs in a mobile environment and a dense urban deployment," he noted.

Sprint partners Samsung Electronics and Intel have also invested time and money in 802.16e mobile WiMAX trials worldwide.

All of these companies will work with Sprint Nextel to develop WiMAX chipsets, devices and infrastructure to support the companies' planned 4G roll out, which is expected to be available to more than 100 million people by 2008, Forsee said.

He stopped short of saying just how much money each player was putting on the table, except to note it will be "significant."

Interest in mobile WiMAX is presently driven by a number of factors, ranging from the promise of mobile broadband speeds to lower costs and improved reliability.

Its success, however, depends on how it is used and the need for mobile speed by wireless subscribers.

"Whether or not that turns out to be more smoke than fire still remains to be seen," said Carl Blume, product manager with wireless developer Colubris Networks.

He believes developers will first use mobile WiMAX as an infrastructure for public and private municipal wireless networks, although putting too much effort in the public route may be a tactical mistake.

Posted by keefner at 03:38 PM

February 04, 2005

Wi-Fi on the Interstate

The Iowa Department of Transportation will equip the state's 40 roadside stops with wireless Web by July.

story link noted on
February 4, 2005
Free wireless Internet access is coming to all of Iowa's interstate highway rest stops.

The Iowa Department of Transportation announced Thursday that wireless Internet access will be installed at all 40 of its rest areas. Twenty rest stops will be equipped by mid-March; the rest will be operating by July 1.

A pilot project launched last summer by I-Spot Access Networks of Des Moines was used 111,000 times over the past seven months at eight rest areas, said Mark Wheeler, I-Spot's chief executive officer.

The service is already at rest stops on Interstate Highway 80 near Davenport in eastern Iowa, Mitchellville in central Iowa, and Adair in western Iowa. It's also at rest areas on Interstate Highway 35 near Osceola in southern Iowa.

"I think this is a step in the right direction," said George Arvidson of Des Moines, a director of the Central Iowa Computer User Group. "For the traveler, this should be something that will be very handy."

I-Spot Access Networks has been awarded a three-year state contract to provide the service. The wireless access will be available at no cost to state government or to travelers, said Steve McMenamin, the transportation department's rest area administrator.

I-Spot plans to make a profit by selling advertising that will seen by computer users, who will have 30 minutes of free Internet service per visit. The company also intends to offer premium services for a fee to business travelers, Wheeler said. Iowa's rest stops attract 18 million travelers annually.

Users will need a wireless-enabled notebook computer or a handheld computer. They must register and obtain a password. Each rest area also will have an Internet kiosk to allow people traveling without computers to obtain limited information about highway and weather conditions and local hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions, Wheeler said.

Posted by Craig at 04:42 PM

January 04, 2005

Wi-Fi and Convenience Stores

Macs Convenience Stores recently rolled out new Zaplink kiosks.


Retailers continue to warm up to wi-fi

Wireless fidelity, barely on the retail scene two years, is becoming a common ingredient in the offerings of retailers as a way to drive traffic and revenues. At Macs Convenience Stores Inc., based in Calgary, B.C., wi-fi is being used as another tool in its policy of making its storeswhich offer caf-style seating areas for customersmore appealing, says Randy Weins, category manager for western Canada.

Macs recently rolled out wi-fi-enabled ZapLink kiosks in 34 stores in the Vancouver metropolitan area, the first leg of a plan to place kiosks in more than 200 stores in western Canada. The kiosks, from Info Touch Technologies Corp., offer a range of features that provide service for customers and revenue streams for Macs.

Macs customers can log onto the Internet through the kiosks to use e-mail, pay their utility bills or purchase ringtones or games for cell phones, among other services. They can also print out coupons offered by suppliers of products sold in Macs stores. And because the kiosks also serve as gateways for wi-fi high-bandwidth Internet access, customers with wi-fi-enabled laptops or handheld computers can log on for full web access on their own devices while relaxing at a tablea drawing card that fits into the Macs strategy of giving customers multiple reasons to enter its stores.

Macs earns revenue in multiple ways: It shares in the wi-fi access fees of $9.95 per day or $34.95 per month; it earns commissions through online advertising that InfoTech arranges with consumer goods suppliers, and it shares in other transaction fees, such as when customers purchase cell phone games over the kiosk. Then theres extra in-store traffic. With customers coming in to pay bills and use the kiosk for other purposes, they may end up purchasing other store products, Weins says.

Macs has joined a growing number of retail chains that have begun offering wi-fi as a key part of value-added services to draw people into their stores. Barnes & Noble Inc. recently began making wi-fi access available in more than 600 bookstores under an agreement with SBC Communications, whose FreedomLink Wi-Fi also provides web access in thousands of locations, including UPS Stores and McDonalds restaurants.

Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, a chain of coffee and tea shops, is rolling out FreedomLink Wi-Fi in 144 locations in California, Nevada and Arizona. We are eager to offer our customers this service, says Lisa Steinkamp, director of marketing. This is a natural extension of the comfort zone weve created in our stores.

And theres a more to come: SBC says it expects to be in 20,000 wi-fi locations by the end of next year.

Posted by Craig at 02:18 PM

November 12, 2004

WiMax Trail Blazing

Convergence - The Battle Between WISPs, Telco's, Cable and ISPs Takes Shape...

WISPs blaze trail for WiMAX
By Wireless Watch
Published Friday 12th November 2004 13:46 GMT

Analysis The WiMAX community has been awash for some time with optimistic predictions about the technology's prospects in the WISP world. A quarter of US wireless ISPs will migrate to WiMAX in 2005-6 and a further 25 per cent in 2007-8, according to ABI. Broadband is now offered by 92 per cent of rural service providers, with 22 per cent of them using at least some wireless, usually in unlicensed bands. Now, as equipment testing and availability draws closer, some of these WISPs are making their move.

The telcos may be hoping to kill off the ISP through a wired/wireless triple play offering, but their strategies will take time to get off the ground and, in the mean time, trailblazers hope to gain critical mass in unlicensed spectrum in their chosen markets. Outside of rural areas with no access to DSL and cable, the primary target is the enterprise, at least until the subscriber equipment becomes sufficiently cheap to be deployed to the mass market without heavy operator subsidies.

The most high profile example is TowerStream, which has already launched enterprise services based on pre-WiMAX Aperto equipment in Boston, New York, Rhode Island and Chicago and this week announced its latest location in Los Angeles, with San Francisco the next target.

The company is building points of presence on tall buildings in Los Angeles, such as the Aon Center, to deliver services over a 10-mile radius from early next year. In San Francisco, service should be up and running by the end of the first quarter of 2005.

TowerStream shows just what can be done with the technology today, even ahead of the formal standard and certification processes for WiMAX that will make the technology dramatically cheaper, and mainstream, next year. It is building its base gradually and cautiously with a profitable T1 replacement business, but this low risk start is laying the ground for a future, more ambitious move into offering the triple play of voice, data and video to the mass market, in competition with cablecos and telcos.

The way in which it is building its coverage is confirmation that grass roots businesses can emerge in broadband wireless, in just the same way that they did in Wi-Fi, but that there is an acceptable business model available to them. Because the most important fact about TowerStream is that with funding of just $6m from friends and family, it is already operating at a profit. This is at a time when a base stations cost around $30,000 and each customer premises equipment is between $500 and $700. Think how profitable it might be when volume chip pricing cuts in.

TowerStream already has 700 customers in total, uses Aperto equipment from end to end, and has 'networks in the sky' built on just nine base stations in Boston, where it says it already has three per cent of the T1 market, and fewer still in the other cities where it operates.

The simplicity with which a smart thinking start-up has approached broadband is evident in the company's model. It wanted to bypass the RBOCs completely, knowing that if it went into competition with them on T1 prices, its backhaul would end up priced at just enough to squeeze out most of the profit. So it bypasses them and either terminates all of its traffic directly at a major internet hub, or contracts with long distance carriers to take it there from one single point.

"We decided to put 18GHz microwave towers up as a kind of network in the sky. These need line of site to work. The first thing we did was negotiate their sites, and we then used these for backhaul for our broadband wireless base stations which use some of the same locations," said COO Jeff Thompson. The TowerStream service then carries data in 5.8GHz unlicensed spectrum from the base stations to the customer.

The targets right now for TowerStream are mostly the smaller to medium sized business, but it will take on 10Mbps-20Mbps delivery for just over $3,000 a month and is happy to talk to bigger enterprises about bigger loads.

It offers a Service Level Agreement just like any other service supplier, which it is happy to leave on its web site, where the performance guarantees include 4 x 9s reliability (99.99 per cent) on network uptime, low round trip latency and less than one per cent packet loss.

But it's TowerStream's approach to the future that makes the most interesting listening. "From the day WiMAX 802.16d equipment is available, we will install it. It's not a big part of the costs of the network, it's mostly the site acquisition that make up the bulk of our network costs," said Thompson. TowerStream has towers on the Empire State building in New York and the Standard Oil Building in Chicago.

"And when 16e (the mobile version) is ready, the WiMAX Forum is trying its hardest to make it a software download, so it should be a simple matter to turn our metropolitan networks into a mobile telephony business overnight," added Thompson.

As a precursor to this, and to prove that he is deadly serious, Thompson hints that he is about to pull the trigger on an experiment that will get his company ready for this service sometime towards the end of 2006, by trying out Wi-Fi now.

"Yes we are experimenting with Wi-Fi SIP phones. We expect a trial to start in about two months," he says. With existing Wi-Fi hotspot operators loath to upgrade their locations to support the upcoming 802.16e quality of service protocols, essential for robust voice services, there will be chances for companies like Towerstream to steal a march.

"This isn't with the cheap hotspot Wi-Fi chips, but with Cisco chips which get the best out of its SWAN (Structured Wireless Aware Network) architecture. You can also offer roaming," said Thompson, quite clearly indicating that Towersteam plans to slowly build its own dedicated hotspot network, as well as perhaps sign up hotspots, or take excess capacity on enterprise WLans to a SIP-only Wi-Fi phone network.

From there Thompson pictures a transition to a seamless shift from Wi-Fi to WiMAX as people wander in and out of hotspots with hybrid phones, once the 16e standard yields roaming mobile handsets, probably during 2007.

So from a T1-only business, with consumers taking additional mobile bandwidth and perhaps also signing up for using that same bandwidth at home, TowerStream can see a gradual shift to at least a double play. It may well offer VoIP through a partner. "We don't have the brand recognition that AT&T has for VoIP," Thompson said. "We're looking to partner with top brands."

What about the third option, television?

Thompson is even more circumspect on this subject. "Perhaps if you put a DSS (digital satellite system home satellite dish) and a WiMAX antenna together and use the satellite dish to download programs and WiMAX for everything else, including the return path, that might work," he said. Is TowerStream doing this?

"We're looking at TV options," is all that Thomson would confirm. "While we just have 6MHz channels it might not be right to opt for a triple play in the home. But once WiMAX has 10MHz or 20MHz channels you could feed 250 homes with at least half to one megabyte per home."

For now, like most early entrants, the company wants to keep using T1 replacement as its main business. It aims to be in 10 major cities by early 2006, building its network in the sky that can overnight be turned into a metropolitan mobile network. Expansion will be aided with a move into reseller partnerships from early 2005, which could take TowerStream into some larger enterprises that would not deal with a start-up.

It is not the only WISP taking this two-stage approach, moving from T1 replacement to VoIP to mass consumer mobility. Another example is DSL and dial-up provider Speakeasy. Three months after it received funding from Intel Capital to support its move into wireless, it has announced its first trial of WiMAX ready networks, in Seattle, Washington.

Speakeasy plans to add wireless to its DSL, T1 and VoIP mix to plug coverage gaps - it says 30 per cent of customers who apply for Speakeasy wireline services cannot reach them. It will provide premium services, or enhanced coverage, in the top 10 US cities, or to target metro areas where it has not managed to obtain wireline.

The real opportunity for Speakeasy lies in mobility - by 2007 it aims to have a service that integrates VoIP, data and video and can be taken throughout the US via mobile WiMAX devices and public hotspot access.

The Seattle trial is promising 3Mbps of symmetrical bandwidth with optimization for voice. The target market, until subscriber equipment gets cheaper, will be businesses, where Speakeasy will undercut T1 lines by half. With 1.5Mbps T1s costing around $750 a month in the area, it aims to offer double that bandwidth for about $600-$700 a month. Installation time will be 24-48 hours rather than up to three weeks for T1. The company believes it is a steep hike from 1.5Mbps T1 to the higher bandwidth options such as T3 or OC3 - even a fraction of the full 48Mbps can cost $10,000 - and that WiMAX can exploit this gap.

For Speakeasy, WiMAX is also a chance to move into wireless mobility in the 2007 timeframe, and to hedge its bets against possible regulatory changes that could limit its access to last mile providers and so hurt its DSL broadband business.

The company raised $24m in fourth round financing last March to support the launch of a voice over IP service and expand its rollout of integrated broadband/Wi-Fi services for consumers and in August it added an undisclosed sum from the Intel Communications Fund, specifically earmarked for WiMAX deployments from 2005.

Speakeasy's earlier round was led by 3i Ventures and BV Capital with participation from previous investors Ares Management, Cornerstone Ventures, Matthew G Norton and Granite Ventures. It has raised $50m to date and hit profit in 2003. The company was founded in 1994 as one of the world's first internet caf chains and now provides DSL and Wi-Fi in 120 US cities.

Also interested in the voice potential of WiMAX is NextWeb, a Californian broadband wireless provider, which has signed a VoIP partnership with Level 3 Communications. NextWeb will launch a service for its 2,000 business customers in the middle of next year.

Like Towerstream NextWeb is forced by shortage of spectrum to offer enterprise services in unlicensed 5.8GHz bands but it claims that a well designed system can be as robust as a licensed option. The largest BWA operator in California, the company serves business customers in the Los Angeles, San Francisco Bay and Orange Country regions. The company recently made a string of acquisitions of ISPs, not only pointing to a consolidation trend in the US but also giving it a claim to be America's largest business oriented WISP. It has made four acquisitions in two years, buying up Innetix of San Jose, California, World Wide Wireless Networks of Orange County, Oakland- based Libritas and finally SkyPipeline, from another wealthy Californian area, Camarillo.

NextWeb claims it has not experienced any interference problems in 5.8GHz and offers service level agreements guaranteeing 99.99 per cent uptime - the same as licensed BWA services, though less than some wired alternatives - and 50ms latency.

NextWeb uses equipment from Axxcelera, with roof-mounted base stations covering a three mile radius, supporting 250 subscriber units each with user rates of 25Mbps, and will migrate these to WiMAX. Two weeks ago it announced that it was upgrading its backbone using microwave radio systems from Alcatel, to cope with expanding demand.

By focusing on business rather than residential, and on SME in order to avoid the long sales cycles of the top enterprises, NextWeb now boasts ARPU of $470 per month and achieved positive cashflow a few months ahead of schedule. Scalability is key to fixed wireless advantages, says the company, which claims it can double the number of customers on its network for only 10 per cent of variable costs.

NextWeb also offers a sub-1Mbps, SLA-less offering for small businesses. This is not its key focus and, like other providers, it says it is hard to make a business model based on such services in the developed areas, since DSL is so price competitive. But it offers the option for companies that may, in future, grow into wanting the full platform - and will step up this focus when WiMAX subscriber equipment falls to commodity prices.

Also piloting WiMAX-ready networks is Futura Technologies, which has kicked off a 60-day trial in Kansas City and its surrounding areas. It will bundle the broadband wireless offering with its FuturaVoice VoIP offering and aims for a nationwide roll-out by 2006. Its current services are available in 47 states.

WISPs blaze trail for WiMAX | The Register

Posted by Craig at 02:44 PM

September 22, 2004

Wi-Fi Hotels Survey

Travellers rejecting hotels with iffy wi-fi service - Jupiter survey for BT

Most travellers would not return to a hotel where the wi-fi internet service was unsatisfactory, according to a survey of regular hotel users across North America.

The survey, conducted by Jupiter Research for British telco BT, reveals a hotel's brand reputation is at stake when guests experience an unreliable high speed wireless internet service during their stay.

Nearly half of all guests surveyed attributed their levels of satisfaction with onsite wi-fi internet access to the hotel group or brand and 44 per cent blamed the hotel they were staying in at the time for any problems, highlighting the damage a poor wi-fi internet service can cause to a hotel's reputation.

More than half of hotel guests questioned would not stay in a hotel again if they were dissatisfied with the wi-fi internet service provided and a quarter of respondents would tell co-workers, friends and family.

The bulk of frequent hotel guests surveyed were business users, with over a third of guests surveyed making more than 13 business trips annually that include a hotel stay. Some 87 per cent of these business travelers placed high levels of importance on the availability of a wi-fi internet connection during their visit.

Digital Media Europe: News - Travellers rejecting hotels with iffy wi-fi service - survey

Posted by Craig at 06:19 PM

August 16, 2004

Wi-Fi Projections

Wow wi-fi! A rapidly emerging market offers many opportunities for prepaid providers

by: Bridget Mintz Testa

Until last year, wi-fi was a fairly obscure technology. Today, the United States has 10,000 to 20,000 "hot spots," or wi-fi access points. Growth projections vary widely. Wireless Data Research Group forecasts 50,000 global hot spots by 2008, while wireless technologies research firm ON World forecasts 700,000 global hot spots by 2009.

For prepaid providers, precise future hot spot numbers are far less important than wi-fi's potential opportunities. FTS Wireless and WiFiMinutes, two pioneering firms with very different prepaid wi-fi business models, are exploring those opportunities now.

Leveraging access

FTS Wireless distributes a wide range of mobile wireless products through six retail stores in Florida's rapidly growing Tampa/St. Petersburg area; one store in Pennsylvania, where the company is headquartered; and one kiosk that is located in an indoor-outdoor market in Oldsmar, Fla. Besides selling prepaid phone minutes in its stores, FTS Wireless also wholesales prepaid services to c-stores and other retailers.

Each store is being equipped with wi-fi access points. To expand coverage, CEO Scott Gallagher says, "We have joined the national AirRover network, which lets us sign up with other hot spots. It lets business users from anywhere get wi-fi access." Hourly, daily, weekly, monthly and prepaid access plans are available for users.

If this sounds like a perfectly ordinary way to make money, it is. But there's a twist. "I don't expect to make money off the wi-fi," Gallagher says. "I expect to leverage it as a way to bring people in and sell them wi-fi-based accessories and products."

Gallagher does expect to make money selling VoIP phones to more than 100 small Florida business accounts acquired when he purchased the six retail stores that now make up most of the company. "Small businesses are more willing to take chances on VoIP," he says.

Travelers to Tampa/St. Petersburg make up Gallagher's third target group. "It's a very transient market," he says. "It has a high churn rate. The cell and prepaid markets there are different from anywhere else I've been. There are great opportunities for sign-up due to the transience and growth."

Despite Gallagher's belief that he won't make money from the hot spots, he might be surprised. "The real cost to putting up a wi-fi hot spot is the phone circuits," says David Gross, senior analyst at Wireless Data Research. Such connections are required to backhaul wi-fi traffic to the internet. "With those circuits in place," Gross continues, "it would be hard not to make money." Gross says Gallagher's recurring gross margin on the wi-fi access service should be nearly 90 percent.

Making comparisons easy

WiFiMinutes was founded as a result of owner Chris Barry's personal interest in the technology. Researching wi-fi online, Barry quickly discovered that no single website allowed side-by-side comparison of wi-fi access plans. He also realized that wi-fi providers have established few roaming agreements, meaning that people who need wide access must sign contracts with multiple companies. Thus was born the idea of selling two-hour blocks of prepaid wi-fi access to people who use geographically dispersed hot spots operated by different providers.

"I'm establishing agreements with providers who have extensive access within a region," says Barry. "They may already have established roaming agreements, or they may simply have a good number of hot spots." Barry's customers business travelers, vacationers and students can buy prepaid access in many places or in a large region for a couple of hours without comparing multiple plans or signing multiple contracts.

When wi-fi providers inevitably develop roaming agreements, Barry simply plans to negotiate contracts with them. However, he says, "That's a while away."

Gross thinks that Barry's business plan is a bit strange. "People don't want to buy per-minute plans for wi-fi access," he says. "They want flat, fixed rates."

Barry disagrees. "General users will either get monthly subscriptions or find free hot spots," he says. "This isn't the market I'm after. For my target market, it makes sense to get the access before they go. This is what I see over and over in e-mails from customers."

Barry's model also evidently makes sense to prepaid distributors. Six prepaid distributors approached Barry in's first nine weeks. The distributors weren't interested in negotiating provider relationships themselves. They just wanted to resell Barry's access plans. "I'm planning to set up arrangements with prepaid distributors," Barry says. However, he wants to get more wi-fi agreements in place first. While he does that, he's also setting up private-label capabilities for his prepaid wi-fi access plans to make it easier for distributors. Barry is planning to advertise in travel publications, but he says, "Distributors and resellers will be the revenue generators."
Wi-fi in 2009
Six wi-fi forecasts from ON World
Worldwide hot spots will total 700,000. North America will have 200,000; Europe will have 174,000; Asia-Pacific will have the other 326,000.
Asia-Pacific hot spots will generate more than $6 billion in combined subscriber-venue revenues.
European hot spots will generate $2.45 billion in combined subscriber-venue revenues.
More than 850 million cell phones will ship; more than 85 percent will be wi-fi-enabled.
More than 157 million wi-fi-specific devices will ship.
Worldwide wi-fi user numbers will reach 86 million from 5 million in 2003.
Source: ON World

Day passes and minutes

While Gross is skeptical of the prepaid-minutes wi-fi model, he sees potential in selling packages of discounted "log-ins," which are the equivalent of day passes. T-Mobile, the 900-pound wi-fi gorilla, sells 24-hour access for around $10. "This is way above cost," Gross says, "so the wi-fi prepaid model is to sell packages of 24-hour access and undercut T-Mobile with rates of $3, $4 or $5 per day." Monthly discount packages would also be good offerings, Gross says.

Prepaid wi-fi minutes may yet come when wi-fi-enabled cell phones arrive this fall. When that happens, the big cell providers several now sell wi-fi access may package cell and wi-fi minutes together. Prepaid sales of such plans won't be far behind.

More to come

If these models don't fit your business plan, don't worry. Wi-fi is just getting started; more ideas will inevitably emerge.

Intelecard News Online | Feature Stories

Posted by Craig at 02:53 PM

July 30, 2004

Wi-Fi Implementation First

Grand Haven, Mich., Completes Citywide Wi-Fi Network

News Story
Jul 30 2004
Grand Haven Mayor Roger Bergman recently announced the completion of the city's Wi-Fi broadband network.

According to the mayor, it is the nations first fully operational citywide implementation. Other cities have announced intent to build similar networks or have announced partial deployments; in contrast, the Grand Haven implementation is the first full and complete citywide Wi-Fi deployment.

"As the first Wi-Fi city in America, Grand Haven has truly lived up to its name in the Internet era, as we now allow anyone anywhere to connect to the Internet and roam the city and waterways in a completely secure computing environment," Mayor Bergman said.

Developed and managed by Ottawa Wireless, the system uses several hundred Wi-Fi (802.11a, b, g) radios strategically located upon the city infrastructure to blanket its six square miles and provide coverage 15 miles into Lake Michigan.

"Grand Haven demonstrates how the public and private sectors can work together to provide an entire city and everyone within its limits with more affordable, easy-to-access Internet service," the mayor added. "This is a proud moment for Grand Haven, and the benefits of anytime-anywhere Internet access are being enjoyed by every facet of our town, from tourists, boaters, and residents to businesses and municipal agencies. Already with more than 300 customers, this Wi-Fi service is having a dramatic impact on the way people work, play and communicate around town. Its benefits are many, as it enables new public security services, attracts businesses, boosts tourism and supports education."

Grand Haven, population 12,000, has more than 2 million visitors each year. Some hotels and marinas subsidize the wireless service, offering it free to guests. A local realtor views home listings and prices while touring properties with clients. A local web designer has relocated his office to his boat for the summer. Other current customers include the city administration, large and small businesses and restaurants. Local public safety agencies and the hospital are in the process of connecting to the network.

In addition to fixed/mobile high-speed Internet access, Ottawa Wireless provides advanced services, such as point-to-point dedicated VPN connections, remote wireless video surveillance, and high-speed access for boaters up to 15 miles offshore and at speeds of up to 55 miles per hour. Citywide mobile Wi-Fi VoIP telephone calling is currently in beta testing with full launch expected in the next few months.

Monthly prices for always-on broadband Internet starts at $19.99 for 256 kbps, and unlimited mobile VoIP calling is $29.99. Connections up to 1 Mbps and per-day pricing options are also available.

News: Grand Haven, Mich., Completes Citywide Wi-Fi Network - Jul 30 2004 05:00AM

Posted by Craig at 02:17 PM

July 08, 2004

Wireless Kiosks in Retail

Office Depot to roll out more than 7,000 wireless in-store web kiosks

As part of its store re-design strategy, Office Depot Inc. will place in each of its 900 stores eight web-based, wireless kiosks that let customers order products from, configure personal computers, and research their personal loyalty points and shopping history, Joseph Jeffries, director of retail store operations, tells Internet Retailer.

Mounted on rolling carts, the kiosks are designed to be easily moved to store departments where theyre most needed, Jeffries says.

The kiosks are being launched this week as part of Office Depots new M2 store concept, which it announced Wednesday. M2 is intended to make stores easier to shop and more efficient in stocking merchandise, says Chairman and CEO Bruce Nelson. "M2 is intuitive, logical and designed specifically for the way people make purchase decisions," he says.

Under Office Depots old kiosk strategy, each of five kiosks in a store had a single function; for example, to configure a personal computer, research product information, or fill out a customer service survey. That and their placement in the store made them less likely to be used frequently. Customers didnt know where they were because theyd be stuck on a cabinet or some place, Jeffries says.

The new kiosks will be made more conspicuous by store signage and assistance from store employees, he adds. Instead of placing a kiosk at the store exit for satisfaction surveys, as it does now in many stores, Office Depot will place a multi-functional kiosk at the store entrance. Incentives advertised on signs, such as special product offers, will try to get customers to fill out surveys of their shopping interests.

Customers will also be able to swipe their Office Depot Advantage loyalty cards on the kiosk to get a report of their rewards points total and theyll be able to sign in to see a record of past purchases. If someone comes in to pick up an ink cartridge and cant remember which one they need, they can check the kiosk to see what they bought the last time, Jeffries says.

Rival Staples Inc. has been installing web kiosks in its stores since it undertook a store redesign initiative in 2001. It now has about 6,000 in operation, or between 4 and 6 in each of its 1,200 stores. - Daily News for Thursday, July 1, 2004

Posted by Craig at 02:22 PM

June 24, 2004

Wi-Fi Security

New gadgets take on 'Starbucks' security threat

New gadgets take on 'Starbucks' security threat
Two companies offer plug-in devices that secure info, communications over wireless networks

By Paul Roberts, IDG News Service June 21, 2004

The growth in popularity of both wireless technology and mobile computing has created a potent new threat for network administrators: unauthorized intrusions onto their networks by hackers and viruses that take advantage of loosely secured laptop PCs and public computer kiosks.

Malicious hackers and worms can slip past heavily fortified network perimeters by compromising computers in home offices, tunneling through virtual private network (VPN) sessions from compromised computers, or taking advantage of wide-open public wireless hotspots like those offered by coffee house giant Starbucks Corp. The threat has prompted increased attention to the issue of so-called "end point" security for mobile computers from major technology vendors, including Cisco Systems Inc. and Microsoft Corp.

Now two companies say they have the answer to the problem: plug-in hardware devices that lock down sensitive information and secure communications over wireless and wired networks.

On Monday, Seclarity Inc. of San Francisco will unveil its SiNic Wireless NIC (network interface card). The device can send and receive standard IEEE 802.11 wireless network traffic and comes with its own embedded operating system, encryption software and firewall to secure communications to and from desktop, laptop and server systems. The same day, RedCannon Security of Fremont, California, will release Fireball KeyPoint, a USB (Universal Serial Bus) token that is being billed as a "secure mobility appliance," with a built-in Web browser, e-mail client and encrypted document store that allows travelling employees to work securely from any PC or laptop computer.

Developed with funding from the U.S. military, Seclarity's SiNic Wireless card looks like other wireless LAN cards but is actually a fully-contained, standalone Unix computer. The device fits into any standard PC Card slot. It contains 32MB of memory and its own processor, which is used to manage 802.11a, b, and g traffic and encrypt and decrypt traffic using a built-in PKI (Public Key Infrastructure) module. The card runs a hardened and customized version of the NetBSD operating system, as well as a customized stateful proxy firewall. It also stores and manages user access policies, said Adrian Vanzyl, chief executive officer (CEO) of Seclarity.

The idea is to separate critical security functions from the operating system of the notebook, which is more complicated and vulnerable than the SiNic card. It makes security transparent to users and to applications running on the PC, reducing the likelihood that users will tamper with or disable critical security functions, Vanzyl said.

Wireless connections to and from the SiNic card are authenticated from origin to destination, making it impossible for outsiders to "sniff" sensitive information from wireless traffic or from insecure host systems, he said.

"End point security often means restricted mobility for users -- they're told they can't leave the (corporate) network, or they can't log in from Starbucks," he said. "With our solution, if a guy logs in from Starbucks and a hacker or another user tries to get to a file ... he can't, because the machine will ask for a valid certificate."

A separate management system that runs on Windows 2000 or Windows 2003 servers acts as the root PKI certificate authority for systems using the SiNic cards and also controls device enrollment in the PKI system, access policy management, software updates and auditing, he said.

The SiNic card makes it very difficult for malicious hackers or others to capture sensitive data by offering "end to end" protection from data's point of origin to its destination, said Chris Byrnes, senior vice president for security at Meta Group Inc. By offloading processor-intensive encryption onto a NIC, the company also sidesteps the slowdowns that often accompany encryption with software clients, he said.

That said, the SiNic card is not right for every company, Byrnes said.

"Companies have to want to secure all their communications," he said. "Obviously, you need (secure communications) when you're going over the Internet, but there are a lot of solutions that let you secure Web-based traffic at little or no cost -- like (Secure Sockets Layer)."

For companies that want to secure non-Web communications between network endpoints, there are many competing technologies that don't require companies to deploy new hardware, such as IPSec (Internet Protocol Security) and VPNs, he said.

"Those technologies are no better or worse than (SiNic)," Byrnes said, adding that SiNic's approach might be easier for companies to manage in large deployments.

The product will be most attractive to organizations that handle large amounts of highly sensitive data across their entire operation, such as banks and government agencies, he said.

While the U.S. military is testing the first batch of SiNic cards, Seclarity is also targeting private sector companies in regulated industries such as banking and health care. The cards are available immediately and pricing varies with the number and type of cards, Vanzyl said.

For RedCannon Security, the issue isn't how to secure end-point systems but how to trust communications to and from mobile workers who are using end-point systems that are almost certainly not secure.

RedCannon's new Fireball KeyPoint USB token provides a secure environment that mobile employees can use to securely retrieve e-mail, manage documents and browse the Web from uncontrolled computers such as public kiosks, hotel business centers or personal computers connecting over public wireless hotspots.

The keychain device contains its own processor and either 256MB or 512MB of storage, a customized version of the Internet Explorer Web browser and e-mail client software based on Microsoft's Outlook client. A data vault using 128-bit AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) file encryption allows users to encrypt and decrypt documents by dragging and dropping them into and out of the vault from a Windows desktop, said John Myung, CEO of RedCannon.

When users plug the KeyPoint into a USB-equipped computer running Windows 2000 or Windows XP, antispyware software developed by RedCannon scans the host computer for spyware, key loggers, Trojan horse programs and other threats, providing a report on the safety of the machine. After the initial scan, users can access the KeyPoint applications for surfing or e-mail from a central console that appears on the Windows desktop, he said.

The Web browser looks similar to Internet Explorer and stores all files containing personal information, such as Web cookies and temporary Internet files, in a secure area on the appliance. The e-mail client allows mobile workers to send and receive POP3 (Post Office Protocol 3) or Web-based e-mail. The appliance uses Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) to encrypt and download mail to the USB appliance instead of the host system, and users can import their contacts to the USB appliance, Red Cannon said.

A separate Fireball manager application allows IT administrators to set access rules for KeyPoint applications, require spyware scans before enabling connections to corporate networks, recover lost or forgotten passwords and audit Web and e-mail traffic from the device. Security policies and signed XML updates for KeyPoint devices can be downloaded from network shares or Web directories using secure Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP).

The KeyPoint USB security appliance is available beginning July 1. A 256MB version will sell for $149 and the 512MB version for $299 from RedCannon's Web site,

Seclarity is offering SiNic wireless cards immediately. The company did not provide specific price information, saying that the price varied depending on the number of users and type of devices.

Posted by Craig at 07:55 PM

June 22, 2004


Brussels Goes Wi-Fi

Brussels, Belgium, a lively city of just under a million that sometimes refers to itself as the "capital of Europe" for the European Union institutions it hosts, is suddenly busting out all over with Wi-Fi projects.

Three are being spearheaded by the Centre d Informatiques pour la Region bruxelloise (CIRB), an agency of the Brussels Capital Region government that provides IT and ISP services to the 19 local administrations that make up the region.

The fourth project, about which we know less at this point, is a Wi-Fi free-net that, according to CIRB director Sorin Ciocea, already has dozens, possibly scores of points of presence (POPs) around the city.

In the most visible municipal project CIRB is deploying very modernistic-looking touchscreen kiosks across the city. The kiosks provide citizens with government and some commercial information and also double as Wi-Fi hotspots.

"The idea behind this operation is to try and provide to citizens less expensive, if not free, services in order to familiarize them with the new technologies," explains Ciocea. He points out that Belgians pay 30 to 40 Euros ($35 to $45) a month for DSL access -- "which is very expensive."

Five of the kiosks are in place now. The other 15 were to be installed before the end of June.

A second Wi-Fi-related project, like the kiosk project, rides on the coat tails of a larger informatics initiative. A public-private partnership -- which is apparently typical of the way things are done here -- is equipping computer labs with PCs in every elementary and secondary school in the region.

"As part of that project, we're now testing a wireless solution for schools to provide the possibility for professors to move from one classroom to another with a laptop and present Internet information to students," Ciocea says.

All of the Wi-Fi, school and kiosk projects use the backhaul services of IRISnet, a national backbone network built by a private joint venture, in part using existing fiber owned by the regional government and with some government funding.

The government gets to control IRISnet prices for public projects, and in 2007, ten years after the project was initiated, the network reverts to public ownership.

The third of the three municipal projects is an initiative to put 100 additional free public Wi-Fi hotspots throughout the region. This one doesn't have political approval yet, and may be delayed or advanced by mid-June European and local elections.

"I think that we're in a transition period," Ciocea says of the political climate. "Some [municipal administrators] know about wireless and have shown an interest. Others cannot understand it and at the moment are not interested in this kind of project."

"But I think that by the end of this year or early next, we will have this project approved by a large majority."

Since the Brussels region has a total area of about 600 square kilometers and the hotspot technology being used in the kiosk project only has a range of about 300 meters, the new hotspot project will inevitably still only provide islands of coverage -- but that is all it's intended to do.

At this point, CIRB is in the early planning stages. It doesn't know how much each hotspot will cost, except that "it's much less expensive than a kiosk," Ciocea says. This is something of an understatement. Just to buy the first 20 kiosks is costing about $1.22 million. Getting them up and running, and paying for telecom connections and maintenance will coast $370,000 a year. On the other hand, the steel and glass kiosks look as if they'll be there for a good long while.

Citizens and visitors can use the kiosks to access government information such as garbage pick-up times, how to get from here to there by public transit, contacts for police and other emergency and non-emergency regional government services. The kiosks have printers so users can carry hard copy away with them. Any public content provider can submit information to be posted on the kiosk portal site at no charge.

"But they can't just provide any kind of content," Ciocea says. "It must be really citizen driven and it must be easy to use -- one or two clicks to find a real answer to a real question."

Some content from commercial providers such as Le Soir, the Belgian newspaper, is also included. Hotels and other travel and tourism-related businesses can place listings as well. It can't be "just publicity," though, Ciocea says -- and commercial content providers have to pay.

"We'll try to have more and more private content providers and with the money received, we'll try to buy other kiosks," he says.

Users of the kiosk's touchscreen terminals don't have access to the public Internet. CIRB doesn't want Internet-savvy users spending hours at them. The kiosks can only be used by one person at a time and are intended to appeal to even computer illiterate citizens.

Wi-Fi users within range of a kiosk, on the other hand, have unlimited access to the Net, for free. They must identify themselves to get access and they enter through a public portal similar to the one at the kiosks. It includes Internet access as one among several services offered.

Making the service free is "normal," Ciocea says. He means it in the French sense of "only to be expected." The kiosks are being paid for out of public money and use the publicly supported IRISnet for backhaul -- so, of course, it's free.

Providing the service is also all part of the government's strategy of getting Belgians using the Internet despite what it sees as the high cost of commercial broadband service.

CIRB is placing the kiosks in heavily-trafficked areas near cafes and restaurants, so laptop and PDA users can sit down to use the service. This being a European city, there will be apartments and small businesses near many of them, and the "lucky people" who live and work there will also get free access, Ciocea notes.

When we ask him if the various government backed Wi-Fi projects would hamper commercial initiatives, Ciocea says, "This is a question we asked ourselves at the beginning and we do not have the answer." However, he admits to recently getting wind of a Wi-Fi hotspot initiative from Skynet, an ISP owned by former PTT Belgacom, so maybe the question is moot.

He expects there will be more kiosks. Besides additional sites funded by proceeds from commercial content providers, local administrations can buy kiosks to place where they want and CIRB will install them. One commune has already committed to placing two kiosks -- this is in addition to the regional government's 20. By the end of next year, Ciocea is hoping there will be as many as 100 kiosks in place. All will be Wi-Fi hotspots, as well.

Brussels: Unwired City
Posted by Craig at 10:12 PM

June 11, 2004

Wireless Standards

Five Short-Range Wireless Standards Seen Combining

Five Short-Range Wireless Standards Seen Combining

Fri Jun 11, 8:33 AM ET

Add Technology - Reuters to My Yahoo!

By Lucas van Grinsven, European Technology Correspondent

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Five short-range wireless connection technologies are fighting for the industry limelight, but sector specialists said on Friday that companies would eventually combine the five to make life easier.

Automatic wireless connections between electronic devices are the Holy Grail of the computer and consumer electronics industry.

Companies hope consumers will buy new devices once they are able to listen to their music collections anywhere in the house or on the road, see DVDs and photo albums on any screen, or program their hard disk recorders from a Web site.

This brave new world, in which a car's lights, speakers and cell phone are all connected to the dashboard with wireless chips, may be here in a few years, or in some cases sooner.

"We haven't even scratched the surface," Paul Marino, manager of connectivity at Philips semiconductors unit, told Reuters at a Wireless Connectivity industry show.

In many cases, consumers will not be aware of the connection, said Bob Heile, chairman of the ZigBee alliance, a group of companies promoting a ultra-low-power connection that can be built into lamps, fire alarms or heating systems.

"We're trying to submerge the wireless part of it. Consumers are not supposed to think wireless, just functionality," he told Reuters. They should be able to buy two smoke detectors and connect them by pressing one button, he added.

The ZigBee technology, backed by Motorola, Honeywell, Samsung Electronics, ABB, Invensys and Mitsubishi Electric, will also be used in lighting and energy systems in new buildings in two to three years, he said.


ZigBee already brings benefits when used in a single location in just a few devices. Other wireless technologies rely on the "network effect," which makes them useful only when plenty of other devices have the same built-in technology.

Wireless LAN, or Wi-Fi, is an example of a short-range wireless technology that has gained sufficient popularity. Most new portable computers have it built in, which reinforces its future as the standard wireless connection to the Internet.

Many consumers are hooking a $100 Wi-Fi base station to their broadband Internet modem. Electronics companies in the Home Working Group will build Wi-Fi into their products so consumers can stream Internet video and music to their televisions and music systems.

Electronics makers are pushing two more short-range wireless technologies, Bluetooth and Ultra Wideband.

Ultra Wideband is a year away from launch and, unlike Bluetooth, can transfer vast amounts of data between devices, which is needed to stream video from a DVD player or transfer pictures from a digital camera to a computer.

The devices have to be a few meters apart, which means it will not compete with Wi-Fi, which covers a 100 meter radius.

Bluetooth is an energy-efficient replacement of wire connections for modest amounts of information. It is used between cell phones and peripherals such as microphones, for hands-free calling in cars and to control industrial equipment, among other connections.


Bluetooth has been around the longest, but problems with interoperability between devices have showed it is not enough to sell millions of Bluetooth-enabled products. Consumers and wholesale buyers such as car makers are frustrated that some microphones fail to work with certain phones. Also, it is hardly intuitive how to pair devices so that they can work together.

Wi-Fi home networks can suffer from similar problems. Hooking one computer to a broadband modem is something many consumers manage, but adding more boxes requires the computer network skills of the technologically savvy.

Coming to the rescue is yet another wireless technology, called Near Field Communications (NFC). It is backed by Sony, Nokia (news - web sites) and Philips, while Visa is keen to use it for secure wireless payment systems.

Holding two devices a few centimeters from each other allows NFC chips to connect and automatically execute all the procedures that consumers find so hard to do, such as pairing Bluetooth devices, initiating payment protocols between a phone and a shop till or adding a new product to a home network. "There are strong signs that the first commercial products will be available in the latter part of this year," said Christophe Duverne, marketing manager for identification products at Philips Semiconductors.

It will take a while before all these technologies work seamlessly together. In any case, the forest of wireless standards needs no new additions.

Said Marino: "We have to stop inventing new technologies, and now innovate with what we have."

Yahoo! News - Five Short-Range Wireless Standards Seen Combining

Posted by Craig at 07:20 PM

March 25, 2004

Wi-Fi Hot Spots

Chevron, Ford, Pizza Hut, and Wendy's, to offer Wi-Fi Internet access to consumers?

Hughes to launch nationwide hot spots

Company will leverage satellite system

By Ephraim Schwartz March 24, 2004

Hughes Network Systems on Tuesday unveiled plans to launch a nationwide WiFi network. The company intends to leverage its current satellite communications system, DirecWay Broadband, which serves corporate customers such as Chevron, Ford, Pizza Hut, and Wendy's, to offer Wi-Fi Internet access to consumers.

Hughes would add an access point to the consumer-facing portion of a site and use its satellite system as infrastructure. Hughes Network Systems, is a wholly owned subsidiary of DirecTV Group which in turn is owned by News Corp., headed by Rupert Murdoch.

Currently, the Hughes satellite network is used by customers in over 300,000 locations in 85 countries to transmit mission-critical corporate data to and from remote locations.

While the concept of a company leveraging existing real estate and a customer base to add Wi-Fi may be enticing, there is a potential problem, according to David Hayden, senior analyst with MobileWeek.

"If you try to take a system that was designed for one purpose and try to use that same infrastructure to add subscribers in unknown quantities, it could have a significant impact to your core business," Hayden said.

Starbucks, which uses an ISDN line in every location dedicated to prepaid customer cards, opted to install a separate system for Wi-Fi fearing that scenario, Hayden added.

The DirecWay Broadband technology sends downlink data at 600Kb per second to 1Mbps and uplinks at 60Kbps to 80Kbps.

Hughes will become the first media giant to wade into the risky Wi-Fi waters, which could extend the typical scope of Wi-Fi to paid content delivery.

Up until now launching a network of public hotspots has been only attempted by high-tech and telecommunications companies such as Cometa Networks jointly owned by AT&T, IBM, and Intel.

However, according to Jim Gandolfi, senior vice president and general manager at Hughes Network Systems, his company has a distinct advantage over Cometa and others.

"AT&T doesnt have last mile. We own the satellites. There is no middleman with us," Gandolfi said.

Current competitors also must live with what Gandolfi called "a long feeding chain" of partners with whom revenue must be shared while Hughes has a built-in customer base with 300,000 locations ready to be upgraded to Wi-Fi, a national installation service, maintenance, and NOCs (network operating centers) already handling the corporate traffic.

Retail outlets would presumably use the service to extend their brand and bring in additional foot traffic, according to Gandolfi.

The public Internet access using DirecWay Broadband is available now.

Ephraim Schwartz is an editor at large at InfoWorld.

InfoWorld: Hughes to launch nationwide hot spots: March 24, 2004: By Ephraim Schwartz : APPLICATIONS : NETWORKING : WIRELESS

Posted by Craig at 06:58 PM

March 12, 2004


McDonalds joins the Wi-Fi train...

McDonald's Wi-Fi recipe could define industry
Last modified: March 12, 2004, 4:00 AM PST
By Richard Shim
Staff Writer, CNET

Signs at a McDonald's in downtown San Francisco cordially beckon customers to surf the Web using its wireless Internet service, but no one is biting during a recent Wednesday lunch hour.


What's new:
McDonald's will announce later this month the partners it will use to provide hot spot service in its restaurants.

Bottom line:
With more than 13,000 locations, the fast-food chain could provide a significant boost to the Wi-Fi market while it aims to increase foot traffic into its restaurants.

For more info:
Track the players
In fact, none of the 20-odd patrons scattered about the restaurant's two dining areas appears to have a laptop computer or wireless PDA on hand. A few peer over newspapers, while others talk quietly or stare out the window over trays of french fries and hamburgers.

The scene is typical, says supervisor Margie deGroot, whose restaurant near Market and Second streets became, last year, one of the first McDonald's in the country to offer wireless Net access to customers: "Why would these customers use this service when they can go back to their offices to use their computers?" she says.

She's not the only one asking the question. So-called Wi-Fi wireless broadband technology is catching on fast with computer users and sparking a new service industry that aims to cater to an increasingly mobile Internet audience. But it's still early in the game, and companies aren't sure what formula--if any--will work best to attract paying customers.

Wi-Fi providers have targeted a growing number of potential venues within which to establish access points, including hotels, airports, phone booths and restaurants. Coffee vendor Starbucks and deli chain Schlotsky's have already launched commercial Wi-Fi services aimed at driving more foot traffic into

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their stores and keeping customers there longer, and they've reported some early signs of success. Earlier this week, Barnes & Noble said it is working with Cometa Networks to install hot spot networks in about 650 bookstores by September.

McDonald's has been testing Wi-Fi in partnership with three rival providers since July of last year and is expected to announce its long-term partners, its pricing scheme and the locations that will offer the service as soon as this month.

The fast-food giant's entry into the hot spot service market could supersize the industry when McDonald's begins offering the service nationwide. Cometa Networks, Toshiba's SurfHere and Wayport are vying for the business, and the company's decision could dramatically boost the winners' prospects.

McDonald's representatives declined to comment for this story, citing a quiet period as they look over business proposals from operators.

Although it does not plan to install the service in all its locations, McDonald's would be the largest potential partner for a hot spot operator in the United States. The chain is using an "at" sign (@) with an M in the middle as a logo to help hot spot subscribers identify locations that offer the service.

"McDonald's has potential for operators because it has 13,000 locations and an All-American sort of audience," said John Yunker, analyst with research firm Pyramid Research.

Wi-Fi with your fries?
Hot spots are public areas where individuals can wirelessly access resources--such as a broadband Internet connection--available on a network established using Wi-Fi gear. They were initially set up haphazardly in a grassroots manner to give communities free access to the Internet. Although this continues to happen in cities like Portland, Ore., and San Jose, Calif., more and more companies have been installing secure networks and charging for the service.

Last year, 15 million units of Wi-Fi equipped consumer devices such as laptops were shipped--up 95 percent compared with 2002, according to research firm Synergy Research Group. And the thinking goes that as more devices are sold with built-in Wi-Fi connections, more device owners will want hot spot service.

"We need to build the scale of usage as quickly as possible," said Gary Weis, chief executive of Cometa Networks. The more locations an operator has access to, the greater the amount of traffic on their networks and the more attractive the operator becomes as a potential partner for cell and cable companies.

Analysts have been skeptical of the hot spot market and whether businesses, not to mention an entire industry, can be sustained selling the service. Providers have been offering the service on a daily and monthly basis. T-Mobile USA, for example, which partners with Starbucks, has the most hot spots installed in the United States and charges a daily fee of $9.99 and a monthly fee of $39.99. The monthly fee drops to $29.99 if a customer signs on to a yearlong deal. Monthly subscribers are more valuable to providers because they tend to mean a longer commitment and recurring revenue, but analysts argue that at this point, monthly charges are too high to encourage subscriptions.

McDonald's doesn't expect to earn money initially from its Wi-Fi service. It hopes instead to attract more customers and sell more burgers and fries.

Increasing the number of visitors to its restaurants is important as the company looks to boost its revenues after a troubling 2003, when it reported its first-ever quarterly loss. And with increasing scrutiny of the nutritional value, or lack thereof, of its food, the company has shown itself to be receptive to new ideas.

McDonald's says it is looking to attract what it calls the "road warrior" or "windshield warrior," someone who spends a lot of time away from the office, such as real estate agents or regional sales people. And McDonald's has a real estate advantage there, according to Dan Lowden, vice president of marketing at Wayport.

"It's all about getting to the right locations," said Lowden. "A lot of their locations are convenient to that audience because they're right off major roads."

But charging the right amount will also be important. McDonald's and its partners have tried a number of strategies for payments, such as offering free service for a limited time period with a meal purchase. Pricing has differed in each of its locations. The company has been bullish on urban areas and has said it won't offer the service in all its restaurants. Final pricing and locations are still being determined.

The negotiations are ongoing, but several analysts familiar with the McDonald's efforts said they believe Wayport appears to be the frontrunner for winning the bulk of the company's hot spot business. Business as well as technology issues are on the table. Still to be settled are key terms of the contract, including the revenue-sharing plan and who will pay equipment and set-up costs.

Customers stay longer
McDonald's is using rival hot spot businesses as primers.

Starbucks has the largest number of stores offering hot spot service in the United States, in partnership with T-Mobile USA. The two companies have been working on the service since 2002. Starbucks declined to disclose how many people have used the service to date, or financial details. But a company representative said the service has helped keep users in its stores longer, with the average session time lasting about 45 minutes.

"That more than likely leads to a second cup of coffee," said Anne Saunders, vice president of marketing at Starbucks.

Schlotzsky's also found that by offering free hot spot service in select restaurants, it could encourage people to stay longer. According to a survey conducted by Schlotzsky's, 6 percent of customers to restaurants with hot spot service say the service is the primary reason they come.

Those are the kinds of statistics that are raising interest at McDonald's.

A side benefit for McDonald's could be improved store management, something Starbucks has experienced.

Starbucks district managers have used the hot spot service to log into the corporate network from stores to order new supplies for each store and update sales data.

"One manager said to me that (hot spot service) was the single best thing they've been given to improve their productivity with the company," Saunders said.

McDonald's Wi-Fi recipe could define industry | CNET

Posted by Craig at 08:00 PM

January 28, 2004

Wi-Fi Patents

Nomadix patents Wi-Fi hotspot log-in tech

By Tony Smith
Posted: 27/01/2004 at 12:16 GMT
Stay up to date wherever you are, with The Register Mobile

Wi-Fi providers who redirect users' web browsers to their own log-in page may soon have to cough up cash if they want to continue using the technique - US network access software company Nomadix has patented it.

The patent, number 6,636,894, was granted on 21 October last year, but is applicable right back to 8 December 1999. It essentially describes systems that redirects portable-computer users who access a public network to the host's home page, irrespective of the user's browser settings and transparent to the user. The systems cover both wired and wireless access.

It also discusses the authentication and authorisation system that maintains user accounts and interacts with the billing system when network access is not provided free of charge.

Almost all public Wi-Fi networks - and pretty much every one of them that charge users for access - operate such a methodology. No wonder Nomadix describes the technique as "fundamentally essential to the success of the rapidly growing Wi-Fi market".

Nomadix customers will inherently have a licence to use the technique, but WISPs who have developed their own redirection code, or have acquired it from other companies, will need to ensure they have permission to use it.

Nomadix will certainly be expecting them to. "Some [companies] copied what we've done," said Nomadix CTO, co-founder and senior VP, Joel Short, according to a Wi-Fi Networking News report. "We stand behind our intellectual property and now we're going to encourage those folks who provide that method to license the technology from us."

The Register

Posted by Craig at 03:49 PM

January 26, 2004

Display Technology

TFS to Market Wireless Monitors and Wireless Display Systems

TEMPE, Ariz., Jan. 26 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Three-Five Systems, Inc.
(NYSE: TFS), a global provider of electronics manufacturing services and
display solutions, today announced plans to market wireless monitors and
display systems. The wireless monitor products will be the first of their
kind targeted at the industrial/medical marketplace and will use patent
pending wireless technology developed by Avocent Corporation, a leading
worldwide supplier of KVM (keyboard, video and mouse) switching, remote access
and serial connectivity solutions.
Wireless products provide significant benefits. Reduced installation
costs result from the elimination of cabling, which has been traditionally
required to physically connect the monitor to a particular computer device.
Wireless products also allow greater flexibility in expanding existing
systems. Increased flexibility is of particular benefit to the industrial
marketplace where multimedia applications have historically been limited by
complex, mandatory cabling.
TFS wireless monitors and display systems create a unique product offering
since the monitors will embed the wireless capability directly into the
monitor itself. This configuration allows customers to easily replace
existing monitors or displays without adding wireless equipment. The design
also allows for straightforward upgrades to existing TFS monitors. The new
wireless monitors and displays will utilize industry standard 802.11a
protocols and will interface with any remote computer up to 100 feet away with
connections provided through Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), a standard
for secure transmission of audio and streaming video data. This wireless
technology will also feature video compression and protocol technology that
supports the transmission of 24-bit color up to 30 frames per second. TFS
will target industrial process control/automation, medical, signage,
financial, retail and kiosk applications with this technology.
"TFS has decades of experience in developing new display technologies. We
are excited to be the first to introduce these next-generation displays to our
current customers in the industrial and medical markets and we anticipate
creating opportunities in other markets as well," said Jack Saltich, President
and CEO of TFS. "We are pleased to be aligned with Avocent, and we look
forward to strengthening our long-standing relationship by combining the
Avocent wireless KVM technology with TFS' position in the industrial display
The industrial market for TFT (Thin Film Transistor) LCD monitors and
display systems (including kiosks, medical devices, and signage applications)
is expected to reach almost $40 billion by the year 2007 according to the
DisplaySearch USDC Worldwide FPD Growth Report Q3 '03.
"We have a long-standing relationship with TFS through its Redmond,
Washington operation, and we are extremely pleased to see that relationship
evolve into this new area," said John Cooper, President and CEO of Avocent
Corporation. "We look forward to working together to pursue new opportunities
for wireless display solutions in this emerging marketplace."
TFS plans to have wireless TFT monitor demo units produced in Q1 2004 with
a line of standard wireless monitors and industrial displays available later
in the year.

About TFS
TFS is a recognized leader in providing end-to-end engineering,
electronics manufacturing, and display solutions to original equipment
manufacturers (OEMs). TFS has a global footprint, with operations in the
United States, Europe and in several locations in Asia offering engineering
and electronics manufacturing services (EMS), with a special emphasis and
expertise in display subsystems. TFS' Web site is located at .
Three-Five Systems, Inc. and the TFS logo are trademarks or registered
trademarks of TFS. All other trademarks are the property of their respective

About Avocent Corporation
Avocent (Nasdaq: AVCT) is the leading worldwide supplier of KVM (keyboard,
video and mouse) switching, remote access and serial connectivity solutions
that provide IT managers with access and control of multiple servers and
network data center devices. Avocent's KVM solutions are distributed by the
world's largest server manufacturers and installed in Fortune 100 companies
around the world. For more details, visit .

Silicon Valley Biz Ink :: The voice of the valley economy

Posted by Craig at 05:43 PM

January 07, 2004

Wireless and Hospitals

Partners HealthCare, recognized as an I.T. trailblazer, isnt rushing its wireless initiatives.

story link
Partners HealthCare Systems Inc. has long been considered a leader in clinical automation. Its reputation has led many health care information technology vendors to its doorstep, beseeching the Boston-based delivery system to pilot their latest applications.

But Partners also has a reputation for being cautious. It goes to great lengths to ensure new applications fit the needs of its clinical staff. And it often develops software in-house, instead of buying off-the-shelf technology, because of concerns that commercial applications lack features its clinicians need.

Partners is using this same aggressive/deliberate approach to health care I.T. as it enters the wireless world. Most of Partners eight hospitals have implemented 802.11b standard wireless local area network technology. And the delivery system already has implemented enterprisewide wireless applications and has more on the way. But Partners is in no particular hurry to tear up its wired network, says Steve Flammini, Partners CTO.

The maturity level of current wireless platforms isnt high enough to completely displace our hardwired network, he contends. We havent taken the approach that every application must be wireless. Instead, we try to add value to existing systems by introducing mobility or recognizing new opportunities to enable clinical workflow not previously thought possible via a traditional hardwired network.

Nevertheless, Partners already has implemented complex, enterprisewide wireless applications. For example, it provides nearly 2,500 hospital-based clinicians with secure, anytime/anywhere wireless access to its Web-based homegrown electronic medical records system via subnotebooks and cart-based laptop PCs.

Partners also is using the Cache database system from Cambridge, Mass.-based InterSystems Corp. to enable wireless access to an integrated clinical data repository. More than 5,000 clinicians use the homegrown wireless clinical data repository viewing application.

Further, Partners plans to deploy more mobile applications this month, including an ambulatory medical records application and a bar code enabled-nursing medication administration system. Partners also has started testing some wireless PDA applications, such as charge capture, with smaller groups of clinicians.

The pace of Partners wireless software implementationsall done in the past 18 monthsmight be considered furious by some provider organizations. But the delivery system actually is being quite deliberate in its approach, and has set up a series of hoops wireless applications and devices must jump through before theyre implemented, Flammini says.

Before considering mobile technology for implementation, Partners ensures that any new wireless system or technology provides needed functionality and is secure enough for its wireless environment.

In addition, it also evaluates the technology to ensure it will interoperate with the delivery systems current and futureWi-Fi network, he explains.

The 802.11b technology that Partners uses for its wireless local area network is one of a family of specification standards available for wireless networks. Some hospitals are considering implementing the up-and-coming 802.11g standard, which offers more bandwidth than 802.11b. Others are waiting for the release of 802.11i and 802.1x standards, which are designed to provide more advanced, integrated wireless security applications.

Tread carefully

Health care organizations should be careful how much they deploy on 802.11b standard wireless networks, Flammini says. For the next several months well continue to go live with 802.11b applications and manage them carefully. Further down the road, we can support newer wireless network standards across our enterprise, giving us more capacity and authentication technologies for future mobile applications.

Before Partners implements any wireless application, it evaluates the need for mobility in a particular process. For example, before developing its mobile medication administration applicationwhich is set to go live this monththe delivery system sized up how effectively its current processes were working, Flammini says.

Partners nurses and doctors already use a plethora of clinical information systems to manage patient prescriptions, including an automated medication administration system and a computerized physician order entry system. But planners found that adding mobility to the process could improve workflow as well as help the delivery system accomplish some of its enterprisewide goals.

We developed the mobile medication administration application to help nurses improve their workflow by being able to take the system from patient to patient, Flammini says. By bringing such decision support to the point of care, we are able to address patient safety concerns.

Providing wireless access to its electronic medical records system also helped Partners improve clinician workflow, he adds.

The delivery system also takes clinical workflow into consideration when it evaluates what types of mobile hardware would best work with each of its proposed wireless initiatives. Clinicians mostly use subnotebooks and laptop PCs on carts to wirelessly access the electronic records system. They likely will use the same mobile technology to access the new medication administration application, Flammini says.

Partners did evaluate PDAs and Tablet PCs for use with the applications. But like some other health care organizations, it found that clinicians preferred using the subnotebooks and laptops because they feature larger screens and keyboards, which are important for such applications that require physicians to view large amounts of data simultaneously.

Most health care organizations first wireless deployments go out on laptops, says Mat Raftree, managing consultant at ArcStream Solutions Inc., a Watertown, Mass.-based wireless consulting and systems integration firm.

This might be because a PDA sometimes isnt the best fit for complex software such as computerized physician order entry systems. Or an organization might choose laptops because Tablet PCs are more costly. But it also might be simply because they already have laptops hooked up to their hardwired networks.

Obvious benefits

Peter Greenspan, M.D., since July has been using a Lifebook Series B laptop from Santa Clara, Calif.-based Fujitsu PC Corp. to wirelessly access Partners medical records system while treating patients from his Waltham office. Though he spent a few months learning to use a computer to take patient notes, the pediatrician says he likes using the technology.

The benefits of wireless access are obvious, says Greenspan, whos also the associate director of primary care for Massachusetts General Hospital. But using the laptop still isnt as fast as writing for me. Id be willing to try a Tablet PC, but it would have to have good enough handwriting recognition capabilities.

Right now, though, the gains I get from using the laptops to wirelessly access our records system outweigh not being able to write my notes by hand.

Another reason for Partners cautious wireless approach is that wireless networks present new data privacy and security challenges. Hardwired networks have well-established security technologies. But providing wireless security is a complex and evolving task, Flammini says, more so in light of the data privacy and security mandates of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

Now that our network goes beyond our hospital walls, we must ensure that HIPAA security measures are in place, including encryption, strong authentication and auditing, Flammini says.

Partners uses the LEAP wireless encryption protocol from San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco Systems Inc. to provide more security on its Wi-Fi network than standard 802.11b technology. In addition to encryption, it conducts security audits on its patient records to evaluate patterns of wireless and hard-wired access and abuse, Flammini says.

Though Partners exhaustive evaluation of wireless technologies could lengthen the implementation process, the delivery systems cautious approach is a strategy that most health care organizations should follow, contends Raftree at Arcstream.

By assessing a variety of mobile hardware, working with clinicians and phasing in implementations, the delivery system is poised for successful wireless applications, he adds. Before implementing wireless technology, health care organizations must identify each workflow process and fully understand how their clinicians use it, Raftree says. Then they should map a wireless application to these functions and needs.

Posted by Craig at 07:13 PM

January 06, 2004

Extending Wi-Fi Wireless Range

How Can I Extend the Range of my Wi-Fi network?

Best option is probably for antenna extenders. Something like the HyperGain Range Extender 14 dBi Flat Patch Antenna versus the HyperDirectTM HG-XT11P 11 dBi Smart Directional Diversity Antenna. Tessco makes units to 6dB.

These have drawbacks as they are "directional". This means the signal is focused over a smaller sector, and thus gets better distance. You need to be sure the coverage sector is appropriate for your location. The HyperGains above both show a 30 degree coverage sector. The XT11 is a bit weaker (each 3db doubles the mW power, each 10db increases power by a factor of 10). So I would pick the stronger antenna. They look pretty similar otherwise.

Then there are repeaters. The DLink DWL-900AP+ has a repeater mode. You enter in the MAC address of the AP to repeat. Problem here is that it has limited compatibility.

Other Issues to consider:

Repeater mode is not the best approach, because it uses a lot of frequency space, and typically slows down the throughput. While it can work in some situations, it should not be the first choice. And if you want to get into wireless networks with more complexity than a single access point like the WSG, be prepared to support them.

In client mode, the Dlink product works fine (I use several of DWL-810+ devices to deliver WiFi to my neighbours). But it does not really extend the range of the network, rather, it provides a RJ-45 wall jack with no cable behind it. Good to connect a wired device (say a desktop computer) to a wireless network.

A more powerful antenna, situated in a good location (i.e. separate from the AP, in an obstruction free spot), is probably the simplest approach for improving signal coverage. For 1000 feet (indoors I presume), multiple access points would be the only reasonable approach. This would require some cabling efforts and a site survey of sorts to determine optimal cable paths and access point locations.

There are FCC limitations with respect to power levels. (1 Watt for point to multi-point). The WSG 100 is 30mW I believe. Add a 15db antenna and you will be very close to this limit (16 db antenna will push 30mW to 1200mW or 1.2W, just over the limit). Antenna cabling introduces loss, and its always fun to get the connectors right, as there is no prevalent standard interconnects.

In summary, extending the range of a wireless network beyond a hotspot is not trivial, and will vary with the attributes of each location. Its really outside of our core mission, but with the right engineering, its very do-able. I have designed and installed hotel installations with more than 60 access points in the network. But the design and installation fee, separate from equipment, usually fell between $10,000 and $20,000 USD. Then you have to consider ongoing support, equipment warranties etc.

Posted by Craig at 10:27 PM

December 06, 2003

Expansion Plans Made After Denver Wireless Internet Provider Sold

Ricochet also will cut its prices and add more than 300 retailers to sell the product, as well as add mall kiosks.

By Jennifer Alsever Beauprez, The Denver Post

Dec. 5--Struggling Denver wireless Internet provider Ricochet Networks Inc. has been sold to EDL Holdings Inc., which plans to expand the network to Boulder and Castle Rock in the next few months.

The new Ricochet will hire 30 people in Denver, many of whom the company recently laid off. The new company said Thursday it expects to double its number of employees over the next year.

Last month, rumors circulated that Ricochet was on its last leg, had laid off the last of its employees and was liquidating assets after five unsuccessful months of seeking a partner or financing.

The company was saved by EDL, owned by Victor Mitchell Family L.P. Victor Mitchell is the chief executive and founder of Advantage Wireless, a Centennial- based wireless phone and service distributor.

Mitchell was unavailable for comment Thursday. Ricochet officials did not return phone calls. Sale terms were not disclosed.

EDL Holdings plans to expand coverage in Ricochet's two markets, Denver and San Diego, by 50 percent in the next few months.

Ricochet also will cut its prices and add more than 300 retailers to sell the product, as well as add mall kiosks.

This marks the second rebirth of Ricochet. In 2001, Denver-based Aerie Networks bought Ricochet out of bankruptcy from Metricom Inc. and relaunched it by targeting people who couldn't otherwise get high-speed Internet. But competition increased and the company's expansion plans stalled.


To see more of The Denver Post, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to

Posted by Craig at 03:02 PM

November 06, 2003

Wi-Fi at new McCafe

First McCafe Set To Open Tomorrow

story link

"Going to McDonald's used to be a simple matter of ordering a number 3 combo with a Coke. Now you have dozens of coffees to choose from, and all of these desserts."
These were the words a television reporter, motioning at a tray of baked goods, said on camera as he walked through the first McCafe set to open in the U.S.

No, this isn't exactly your father's McDonald's, though it is in an existing McDonald's store. Driving up to the unit in Raleigh, North Carolina, one is struck by the elegance of the exterior. Walk inside, and you wonder if this can really be a McDonald's. To one side is the traditional McDonald's counter with the traditional McDonald's menu; in a separate alcove is the coffeehouse counter, complete with baristas, fancy coffee drinks, and a dizzying array of pastries, sandwiches, and cakes. The decor is woody and upscaledare we say beautifuland wi-fi access is available.

McCafe is a concept born in Australia, and it has been a hit both there and in New Zealand. Now the company wants to duplicate that success in the U.S.

Thus they decided to open the first unit at the store of franchisee Carol Martin and her son, Buck, who, according to the company, run a top-notch operation. (McDonald's actually opened a McCafe in Chicago in 2001 but closed it after a short time due to building construction.)

If the food and coffee served at a media reception the day before grand opening are any indication, both are quite goodand inexpensive. A large latte, for instance, sells for just $2.50. It is, as company literature says, "a coffeehouse without a superiority complex."

Why McCafe? According to Mats Lederhausen, president of the business development group at McDonald's Corp., the concept is an actual extension and growth of the McDonald's brand. That is, it falls under the rubric of the Golden Arches in a way that partner brands like Chipotle do not.

Several more units are slated to open in the Raleigh market, as well as a couple in the Bay Area, in the next few months. When QSR told Buck Martin we'd be anxious to see how sales went, he responded the only way he really could.

"So," he said, "will we."

Posted by Craig at 08:38 PM

October 29, 2003

Hotspot Finder

Cool hotspot locater!
Thanks to Intel!

Posted by Craig at 10:16 PM

October 15, 2003

Wi Fi and a Coffee

Starbucks now offers its customers wireless access to the Internet in most of its U.S. stores and expects to have the service in some 2,700 locations by the end of this year.

story on Stores

On the Menu: Latte, Biscotti and Wi Fi
Starbucks teams with HP and T Mobile to provide patrons with anywhere, anytime wireless Internet access


Michael Hartnett is a Brewster, N.Y.‑based business writer.

Starbucks Coffee joined the ranks of Fortune 100 companies on the strength of its ability to provide an excellent cup of coffee, in seemingly limitless variations, to millions of happy customers who make the retailers comfortable coffee houses a part of their lifestyles.

But the appeal of Starbucks extends beyond a few quiet moments of coffee, confections and contemplation. In fact, many loyal customers have come to view the stores as convenient places to get some work done, especially if one of the companys 3,500 locations is closer than their own offices.

That explains why Starbucks now offers its customers wireless access to the Internet in most of its U.S. stores and expects to have the service in some 2,700 locations by the end of this year. Simply stated, Wi Fi (wireless fidelity capability) allows patrons who have a wireless card in their notebook computer or PDA to gain access to the Internet while sipping a latte and munching a biscotti at Starbucks, all without the aid of a hardwire connection.

The demand for anywhere, anytime Internet access isnt limited to a handful of computer geeks. Research conducted by Starbucks shows that its stores are a magnet for traveling salespeople, real estate agents, students and many other demographic groups who seek out their favorite coffee house as a place to do real work and keep in touch with headquarters. For those customers, Starbucks and the Wi Fi network have become an important productivity tool.

The inspiration for us to form a relationship with HP and T Mobile to create a wireless network was to make Starbucks a better place to be for our customers, explains Lovina McMurchy, director of Y5 business and alliances for Seattle based Starbucks. We have 20 million customers, and they tend to be high income and managerial. They are twice as likely to have a cell phone and a laptop. A large number of them have PDAs.

Although HP and T Mobile put Starbucks at the forefront of wireless services to customers with an initial launch in summer 2002, McMurchy says that for some time Starbucks customers had been asking if they could have convenient access to the Internet as a side order to their coffee and snack.

Starbucks is a comfortable, relaxing environment where our customers do work. For quite a few years we have had comments from them about hooking up to the Internet, McMurchy explains. For us, that was the inspiration making Starbucks a better place to be for our customers.

This Wi Fi access for Starbucks customers and company employees was made possible through the retailers partnership with HP (formerly Hewlett Packard), headquartered in Palo Alto, Calif., and T Mobile USA, based in Bellevue, Wash.

The required hardware includes a server and router at individual stores, and a wireless card in the customers laptop or pocket PC. The system is backed up by high speed T1 connections from T Mobile that provide the hotspot service. The service allows Starbucks customers to visit the web, check their e mail and, if they choose, watch streaming video or download multi media while sipping their coffee. The wireless high speed connection is 40 to 50 times faster than standard dial up Internet access.

To sweeten the deal, T Mobile is offering Starbucks customers a free, one time, 24 hour trial of the service with a new qualifying subscription. For Starbucks, the Wi Fi access is a customer service thats delivering an almost immediate payback.

When store comps increase, its sometimes hard to know what drives them, but at Starbucks we have found strong same store comps of 10 percent, and those are coming on top of strong comps from previous years, says McMurchy, noting that the companys senior managers attribute the gains to the hotspot service, as well as other company programs.

A Starbucks customer survey seeking comments about how the new service has affected their frequency and duration of stays reveals that 40 percent of those who use the service do visit more often and a larger number stay longer.

There is a clear acceleration in the adoption of new technologies as people have to do more with fewer resources and are expected to be more productive, says Leigh Morrison, HPs vice president of retail sales and solutions, U.S. I would equate wireless technology to ATMs and cell phones. The adoption rate of cell phones was so much quicker than ATMs, and the adoption rate for wireless will be faster than for cell phones. Within the next year or two, wireless penetration will be at least 50 percent more than it is today.

Through HPs relationship with Starbucks and T Mobile, the company is building critical mass for wireless networks, and Starbucks, with its thousands of store locations in the United States and internationally, is part of that foundation.

As a company, Starbucks still has room to grow, even in the U.S., and we want to be there with them. Its a foundation for us, not only in the retail segment, but also in airport clubs and the hospitality sector, says Morrison. As wireless technology continues to improve and people become more secure in it as an environment, it will continue to grow. Its still in its experimental stages in supermarkets and foodservice, but wireless is probably going to be a better fit with the hospitality industry.

Morrison cites the new open air shopping center in Santana Row, adjacent to the Hotel Valencia in San Jose, Calif., as one example. With HP teaming up with Cisco Systems to wire the whole area in and around the hotel and the shopping center, shoppers and hotel guests inside the hotel or outside can log on to the Internet whenever or wherever they choose. Morrison suggests that such Wi Fi access could soon become the norm, rather than the exception.

Although Starbucks appears to be leading the pack in making wireless Internet access available at thousands of locations, its clearly a bandwagon that has attracted many other retailers that are now running to get aboard.

McDonalds, for example, announced this summer that it is offering high speed wireless access for its customers in some 100 restaurants in the Chicago and Milwaukee markets. This expansion follows similar launches under the Golden Arches in the San Francisco Bay area and New York. The retailer teamed up with Toshibas Computer Systems Group and Intel to provide the service.

Panera Bread, based in St. Louis, is offering the same access in 70 of its bakery caf locations, with plans under way to equip the rest of its 505 company owned and franchised locations. Panera has separated itself from other providers by offering the service free, rather than as an introductory offer.

Other companies joining the Wi Fi bandwagon include Schlotzskys Restaurants, Steaming Bean Coffee Shops and The Lassiter at North Hills shopping center in Raleigh, N.C., whose tenants include Starbucks and Schlotzskys.

As a practical matter, Starbucks must devote the vast majority of its store space to customer seating and the preparation and serving of coffee and other products. However, McMurchy says that the company recognized that it will be bringing in new technologies during the next five years, so Starbucks carved out several square feet of valuable back of the house space for the hardware.

We put in some 6 ft. high racks to house the wireless hardware and some other technology that we see coming in future years, she explains. At Starbucks, we view ourselves as not just being in the coffee business. We are in the experience business. We have long known that Starbucks is a place where people meet to work and relax, and this hotspot service takes that to a whole new level.

The Wi Fi systems benefits also have another dimension: increased productivity among the companys 600 district managers. We have used this wireless network to improve the efficiency of our own workforce. There are two sides to it: theres the enhanced service to our customers, and theres our own district managers who have to stay connected to the corporate network, explains McMurchy.

HP was our partner in launching the service to our district managers, each with 10 to 12 locations. They spend a lot of time on the road and were not able to stay connected with the functions they needed to take care of while traveling, McMurchy continues. Our district managers are now connected to the Wi Fi network and they say its the best thing Starbucks has ever done. Its saving a lot of travel time and become an important productivity tool.

Posted by Craig at 08:10 PM

October 10, 2003

The Shopping Buddy

Wireless technology makes food shopping easier
Stop & Shop and CueSol, a Massachusetts-based technology consultant, have teamed up to create a "shopping buddy," a cart-based wireless shopping aide that aims to speed and simplify the food-shopping experience. Available in three Stop & Shops in suburban Boston, the system links the retailer's loyalty card and the shopping history it collects to a computer touch screen that performs several functions, including keeping a running total, identifying sales items and suggesting food combinations.

Story Link

The Shopping Buddy-
By David Pinto

QUINCY, Mass. A groundbreaking, technology-powered food-shopping revolution is gathering momentum in the suburbs of Boston, an advance, powered by a cart-based wireless shopping aide, that is irrevocably transforming the supermarket experience. The breakthrough is being driven by Stop & Shop Cos. and its partner, CueSol, a Quincybased technology consultant.

The revolution turns on the use of a wireless, web-enabled shopping buddy to speed and simplify the food-shopping experience. As now practiced in three Stop & Shop supermarkets in suburban Boston, including the most-recent addition in the retailers Quincy store, it dwarfs anything that has preceded it including the much-touted future store unveiled last summer in Germany by retailer Metro AG.

The Stop & Shop shopping buddy relies on wireless technology to walk and talk the customer through the shopping experience. More specifically, it utilizes the retailers loyalty card and the shopping history it collects, linking the card and its personal shopper history to an 8-inch by 11-inch tablet that houses an 8.5-inch computer touch screen. At the Quincy store the shopper enables the system by retrieving a tablet from a dispensing rack at either of the stores two entrances, setting it into a specially designed handle on her shopping cart and activating it by scanning her loyalty card across the units bar code reader.

Once enabled, the touch-screen does indeed function as a shopping buddy. The wireless browser and ceiling-embedded sensors enable the tablet to send and receive data that speeds and simplifies the shopping experience. Some examples:

As the customer begins to shop, she is alerted as to which items in the retailers weekly circular she has previously purchased and might want to buy again while they are on sale. She also is informed of products that, though not on sale, are being offered to her at a special price because her shopping profile indicates a preference for these items. Finally, as shopper and cart wend their way through the store, sale merchandise and items of possible interest (based on the shoppers purchasing profile) in the aisles currently being shopped are highlighted on the computer screen. As the customer fills the shopping bags in her cart and scans the items the running total is recorded on the computer, as well as the amount saved by buying sales items. Perhaps most revolutionary, the customer does not need to unload the cart or empty her shopping bags at the conclusion of the shopping trip. Because the products have been scanned as they were selected, the shopper need only pay the amount recorded on the computer screen, which she is encouraged to do electronically, at a self-checkout register. As she does, her shopping history is updated. Should the customer want to purchase products from the service deli during her shopping trip, she can do so without stopping by the often-crowded deli. Rather, she can order the items directly from the computer screen, which not only instructs her on the selection of products (and reminds her which items she purchased on her last trip, personally or electronically, to the deli counter) but also helps her determine quantities and, in the case of deli meats, the thickness of the slices. As the customer completes her deli order, the computer assigns the order a number. When the order is ready for pickup, the computer screen notifies her by order number. If the customer needs to locate a product, she has only to type in the products name. The computer announces the aisle location, then reminds her when she reaches that aisle.

What weve tried to do is simplify and personalize the shopping experience and make it fun, says Mike Grimes, vice president of sales and marketing for CueSol. We believe weve succeeded.

The system has certainly succeeded in simplifying and personalizing the shopping experience, primarily by customizing the experience to the shoppers purchasing history. In that way, it continuously reminds the customer of the products she might need and those which she has possibly forgotten, based on her past purchases.

It also is a master at marketing and suggestive selling, reminding the customer, for example, that the eggs she has just purchased might go well with the ham currently on sale. Equally impressive, it condenses for the customer the 8- or 16-page weekly circular, highlighting for each electronic shopper only those products that shopper is known to have previously purchased and displaying them on the computer screen (along with items specially selected for her) as the customer activates the tablet.

The hurdles thus far uncovered in the three-store test are those common to any new technology. Foremost among them is getting the customer to use the tablet.

Some 20% of the customers at the Quincy store use the system, points out Stop & Shop technical support staffer Maryann Sclafani. What weve found is that the first time a customer uses it shes confused, the second time shes comfortable and by the third time shes ready to teach other shoppers how to use it.

To help, Stop & Shop has redshirted employees circulating throughout the store ready to offer assistance.

Another potential drawback is the often-compelling nature of the constantly changing body of information and purchase inducements to which the shopper is exposed, a flood of data capable of easily distracting the customer from her primary job of doing the shopping she entered the store to do.

Then too, the system only makes sense when used in conjunction with the retailers loyalty card, though Sclafani notes that 90% of the stores customers already possess a loyalty card. Most customers carry loyalty cards from all the supermarkets in the area, she explains. One objective of this system is to encourage the loyalty-card shopper who uses Stop & Shop as a secondary supermarket to begin using us as her primary supermarket.

The retailer plans to test the system in the three Boston-area stores on into next year before determining whether and when to roll it out to the entire chain.

Meanwhile, it is by far the closest that supermarket retailing has come to simplifying the always-tedious and sometimesdaunting food-shopping experience, and turning a chore into an exercise closely resembling a pleasant experience.

Posted by Craig at 06:44 PM

IEEE Pushes for Faster WLAN Throughput

IEEE Pushes for Faster WLAN Throughput

Think about a wireless LAN with enough throughput to match your switched Ethernet infrastructure.

That's what the IEEE is thinking about.

Last week, the international standards group launched a working group charged with crafting changes to the 802.11 WLAN standard so that these networks would deliver at least 100 M bit/sec. That number is throughput -- what users see when they transfer a file -- as distinct from the data rate, which is the raw speed before you subtract the overhead associated with the protocol.

In the case of 802.11, the overhead adds up to a whole lot, typically more than half of the data rate. An 802.11b access point, rated at 11 M bit/sec, typically gives a throughput of less than 6 M bit/sec. The 802.11a and 802.11g hardware can give users about 18 M to 22 M bit/sec. The data rate for both is 54 M bit/sec.

Silicon makers have boosted WLAN throughput to about 100 M bit/sec. The catch is that you have to have the same chips in both the client and the access point, and high throughput sacrifices conformity to the 802.11 specification. Atheros Communications, the first vendor with a 54 M bit/sec 802.11a chipset, markets CMOS chips that support what it calls "Super G" and "Super A/G" -- proprietary boosts of up to 100 M bit/sec throughput.

Atheros plans to contribute these and other technologies to the 802.11n task group, as it's called in IEEE terms. "The greatest challenge will be to deliver higher performance while reducing power and cost," says Craig Barratt, Atheros president and CEO.

A reason to embrace wireless technologies is that high-throughput WLANs will eliminate cabling costs. That's only true of the wires needed to connect clients to wiring closets. WLAN access points need to link via Ethernet cable to wiring closet switches.

Network executives already seem to be discounting high-throughput claims that are based on their WLAN experience. "Unless you are sitting right under the access point, you just don't get the maximum throughput," says Dewitt Latimer, deputy CIO and CTO at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind.

WLAN throughput falls off the farther a client device moves from an access point. The drop depends on how much metal, wood, concrete and other construction materials is between the two devices. In almost every case today an access point is a shared medium: Whatever throughput it can deliver is divvied up among the users connected to that access point.

"Most practical applications, such as three students sitting under a tree working on a paper [with wireless notebooks], tend to be insensitive to bandwidth. I don't think high-throughput WLANs will be a big driver until we see things like streaming media applications being untethered," he says.

The 802.11n task group's first order of business will be to define a group of application scenarios, describing how the high-throughput technology will be used. In turn, these become the basis for evaluating and comparing what's expected to be several technologies contributed by different vendors, according to Brian Mathews, publicity chair for the IEEE 802.11 Work Group that oversees this standards work.

Posted by Craig at 04:51 PM

September 17, 2003

Nationwide Cybersystems

Here is a picture of the Nationwide unit.

Posted by Craig at 06:06 PM

September 02, 2003

Wireless kiosks

KIS the leader is providing Hotspots.

All of the Nationwide systems (2000+ and growing...) come equipped with Airpath wireless Access Points which allow for hotspots to sign up their own customers and create their own revenue streams.

Posted by Craig at 04:23 PM