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Issue #2003 - 05 (February 2003)
(Updated Feb. 13, 2003)


WiFi News This week 

1. Cellular-WLAN connection nears
More and more companies are getting interested in the cellular-WLAN connection arena. The latest entrants are Hewlett-Packard and Juniper Networks.

HP recently announced that it would resell software from Transat which allows wireless carriers to give cell phone subscribers the ability to roam onto public Wi-Fi networks and get one bill -- just as if they were roaming between different cell phone networks (in November Transat signed an agreement with Swiss-based TOGEWAnet to use the latter's WeRoam roaming solution).

Juniper Networks unveiled new equipment meant to make it easier for wireless carriers to add Wi-Fi to their service offerings. Like HP's gear, Juniper's equipment is meant for wireless carriers to install on their networks.

These announcements highlight a recent push to find more ways for wireless carriers to combine their networks with hot spots. All major U.S. carriers have plans to offer such services, hoping to benefit from WiFi's increasing popularity. Gartner Dataquest predicts 50 million people will be using hot spots by 2006.

There are two ways carriers may offer WLAN services. The traditional way is for the carriers to build a Wi-Fi network, a path T-Mobile and Cometa Networks follow. HP is now offering an alternative: the carriers would resell access from existing hot spots. There are now about 14,000 hot spots worldwide, which are mostly independently owned and operated.

The Transat software allows a cell phone account to be billed from a hot spot. Transat bases its solution on SIM cards, thus giving mobile operators the security of GSM phones and the ability to provision and manage WLAN users the same way they serve mobile phone users. HP made Transat's software part of its OpenCall SS7, which is used by wireless carriers to authenticate cell phone subscribers every time they turn on a phone to make or take a call. There are dozens of carriers using OpenCall SS7, servicing about 100 million cell phone subscribers. "There will be 300,000 hot spots by 2006," an HP spokesperson said, citing Gartner Dataquest figures. "No carrier will want to build their own network."

Source - Several, including 802.11 portal and Fierce 80211

MobileInfo Comments and Advisory: Integration of WLAN into wireless WANs from carriers is an effort that has just started. It is nowhere complete. Our target environment consists of single virtual hybrid network with same ubiquity of interconnected hotspots that 2.5G will have (90% coverage of urban spots) soon, with a uniform user interface, secure authentication, uniform pricing plans (with minor competitive differences but not spread all over the map), single billing and supported customer care services. That journey has just begin. The carriers may agree reluctantly of the trend but where are the dollars to invest. They do have too many. The carrier's eyes may be on WiFi but their hearts are in 3G because that is where they feel comfortable. The heart must beat in synchronization with the fistful of money.

Note: This news release may contain forward-looking statements within the meaning of section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and section 21E of Securities Exchange act of 1934 in USA. Similar provisions exist in other countries. There is no assurance that the stipulated plans of vendors will be implemented. MobileInfo does not warrant the authenticity of the information. Readers should take appropriate caution in developing plans utilizing these products, services and technology architectures.  All trademarks used in this summary are the property of their respective owners.

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