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News
Issue #2003 - 16 (May 2003)
(Updated May 15, 2003)

INFRASTRUCTURE, PRODUCTS & SERVICES

WiFi News This Week

1. Paris Goes Wi-Fi
Paris could soon become the first large wireless city in the world, if all goes as planned. An initiative backed by Cap Gemini Ernst & Young, Cisco Systems and the agency that operates the Paris Metro plans to install Wi-Fi hot spots at all 372 of the city's Metro stops, linking them with fiber optic cables already available in the Metro tunnels. Currently, the service is available at about 12 Metro stops, and along a major north-south bus route. Until June 1, access to the service is free. After that it becomes a subscription service for which prices have not yet been set. (Source: International Herald Tribune) - more info 

2. Verizon to Turn Pay Phones into Wi-Fi Hot Spots, Reports Say
Verizon Communications could announce, as early as this week, plans to provide wireless access to the Internet through some of its 300,000 public telephones in the U.S. In response to a question after a speech at Stevens Institute of Technology conference, Verizon Vice Chairman and President Lawrence T. Babbio said that the company plans to equip some pay phones to allow mobile computer users to connect wirelessly to the Internet, but gave no details about the service. Bell Canada is testing providing Wi-Fi hot spot service at pay phones in Toronto and Montreal. (Source: Reuters, AP, Washington Post) - more info 

3. Pilots Concerned about Wi-Fi Use on Planes
The Airline Pilots Association is concerned about the use of wireless Internet-capable devices aboard planes. Wireless-capable laptop computers can emit weak radio signals, and the Airline Pilots Association wants assurance that the technology will not cause interference. Though there have been no documented incidents of Wi-Fi-capable devices interfering with aircraft instruments, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has commissioned a study to evaluate the safety of portable electronic devices, including Wi-Fi-capable computers, aboard planes. A report is due in November. (Source: Boston Globe) - more info 

4. Verizon launches Wi-Fi service with 150 hot spots
Verizon Communications today launched its new Wi-Fi service by lighting up 150 hot spots in New York City, with plans to activate another 850 by the end of the year. Verizon said its deployment marks the largest such initiative by an Internet service provider in a single U.S. city. Verizon's hot spots will be inside pay phones located throughout New York and will have a range of 300 feet. The company said its access points are currently located in some of the city's most heavily trafficked locations, such as the Upper East and Upper West Sides, Columbia University, Greenwich Village, Wall Street, and Battery Park.

5. FCC to push for 802.11a spectrum
According to a rumor, the FCC is poised to push for more spectrum for 802.11a at its next open meeting on May 15, 2003. The FCC is now expected to act on a petition filed by the Wi-Fi Alliance seeking an additional 255 MHz of spectrum in the 5 GHz band for 802.11a. That would give 802.11a a huge swath of 555 MHz of spectrum in which to grow.

Source - Several, including TechWeb, 802.11 planet and Fierce 80211

6. 1. Support for WPA grows
More makers of 802.11 equipment joined to support the WPA security standard. Improving WLAN security is thought to be the single most important step toward wider adoption of WLANs in the enterprise. WPA is a subset of the 802.11i standard, which is yet to be approved. WPA improves upon the under-achieving WEP by replacing WEP's static encryption key with a dynamic one, and by incorporating the 802.1x standard for user authentication. Among the companies announcing their support for the new standard:

  • Buffalo Technology announced Monday it would ship WPA-enabled products by the middle of this month. They will include the AirStation 54Mbps Wireless Broadband Base Station and the AirStation G54 Wireless Notebook Adapter, a PC Card client device with an interface for an external 2.4GHz antenna (all these products are based on a Broadcom chipset). 
  • D-Link Systems said that its AirPlus, AirPremiere, AirPlus Xtreme G and AirExpert AGB wireless LAN product lines will be equipped with WPA by the end of the second quarter; the company will also offer free firmware upgrades for current customers. 
  • Linksys Group will make WPA available in its Wireless-G products through firmware and software upgrades by the end of this month. By the end of August, Linksys will provide WPA upgrades for many of its Wireless Dual-Band A+G and Wireless-B products. 
  • NetGear will provide a WPA firmware upgrade for its Model ME103 802.11b ProSafe Wireless Access Point by the end of June. The company eventually will extend WPA support to most other equipment, but may not be able to add it to all products now in customers' hands. About six weeks after WPA firmware becomes available for a given device, the company should be able to ship the product with built-in WPA. 
  • SMC Networks also announced that WPA will be built in to all of its WLAN products by the end of June.
  • Cisco, which has offered its own security systems to strengthen the weaknesses of WEP, is now supporting WPA, although it will continue to support its own technology. Cisco will likely offer WPA support across its entire WLAN lineup during the next few months.

7. 3. PCTEL shows soft WLAN AP
Chicago-based PCTEL today showed the Segue SAM -- a soft access point module for 802.11 networks. The Segue SAM allows 802.11-enabled notebooks or desktop PCs to function as 802.11 access points and routers. Marty Singer, PCTEL's chairman and CEO, said that "Our traditional strength is exploiting opportunities to eliminate hardware and replace it with software. Our Host Signal Processing (HSP) modem and soft DSL accomplished this for wired access. We are now applying our core competency to wireless access." PCTEL's soft AP makes it possible for any location with wired broadband access to be turned into a wireless broadband network by using a PC-equipped WLAN client card with no need for an external wireless router or access point. The Segue SAM will be delivered as a bundled solution from manufacturers of retail 802.11 client adapters, licensed to 802.11 chipset suppliers and motherboard manufacturers as a value added option; it may also be licensed for distribution to wire line broadband service providers as part of these providers' home networking solutions. Segue SAM will be commercially available starting in Q3 2003.

Source - Several, including TechWeb, 802.11 planet and Fierce 80211

MobileInfo Comments and Advisory: It is good news to see Wi-Fi penetrate France's prestiguous Metro in Paris - good publicity indeed. Verizon seems to be serious about WLAN and will mean business if it can truly convert all pay phones into hotspots. Good intentions indeed. PCTEL's software only access point will not cut it because you need some hardware (RF antenna) anyhow to make an AP.

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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