Be on the wave or under it
The News – 06/28/02
Giants to Enter WLAN Game?
Toshiba and IBM may be contemplating launching their own national
wireless networks based on the 802.11b (Wi-Fi) standard. Teaming
with Telcordia Technologies, Toshiba is to launch a “public spaces
initiative,” called Itsumo (Japanese for anytime/all
the time, and standing for Internet Technologies Supporting Universal
Mobile Operations). The company will begin setting up hotspots
for data and voice in malls, coffee shops, and possibly supermarkets
as soon as June 25th. The hotspots will connect to
Toshiba's hosting site, making the company into a national ISP.
Subscribers can use a PDA to make a voice call over IP on the
Wi-Fi network, and the call will be switched to a cellular network
once the user is out of Wi-Fi range. Toshiba recently introduced
a $599 Wi-Fi-capable
Pocket PC, but it doesn’t do telephony yet.
On the server side of things, the Toshiba Wireless Broadband
Hot Spot will cost $199 to deploy, and the company would like
to see the number of public hotspots mushroom from the current
1 to 2 thousand to 10,000. Toshiba is also readying its “Seamless
Office,” a combination of hardware and software that enables users
to roam between access points without losing their IP address.
IBM is collaborating with partners such as Nokia and MobileStar
to develop wireless hotspots. In April 2001, the company inked
with MobileStar, whose assets were acquired in January by VoiceStream
and folded into Deutche Telekom’s T-Mobile Wireless Broadband
network. T-Mobile now provides 802.11b service in 650 hot spots
across the US.
IBM also partnered with Nokia in April of this
year in a deal which establishes IBM Global Services as a system
integrator of Nokia's wireless LAN infrastructure products in
order to provide public wireless LAN solutions worldwide. The
deal is non-exclusive, though, since Nokia will continue sales
of its Operator Wireless LAN solution through its existing sales
What will all this Wi-Fi activity mean for the still-coming 3G
wireless networks? According to Paavo Aro, General Manager of
Wireless LAN Systems with Nokia Networks, public WLANs represent
a complementary service offering for mobile network operators.
“I believe that Nokia Operator Wireless LAN will expand both 2G
and 3G operator's total business case by spearheading broadband
data access user experience e.g. to corporate data,” Aro said
in an interview with Infosync.
Smart wireless network operators see the writing on the Wi-Fi
wall and, like VoiceStream and Nokia, are taking steps to be a
part of the Wi-Fi revolution. Device manufacturers like Toshiba
and IBM are betting heavily on the appeal of public hotspots for
mobile computing. Despite the standards wars between 802.11b,
a, and g that loom on the horizon, it seems that Wi-Fi (802.11b)
has the momentum and the public backing to become a significant
standard for business and consumer computing.
- Taking Your Business On the Road: The Car
As Wireless Office
- Standards, Standards Everywhere: A Business
Guide to Wireless Standards
- M-Commerce: Are We There Yet?
- Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mobile Location-Based
- The Wireless Last Mile: Fixed Wireless Broadband
- Beyond Keyboards, Beyond Wires: Voice Activated
- Information, Entertainment, and Access At
Your Fingertips: Interactive Wireless Information Services
These white papers will be released over the coming months.
To be notified when a new white paper is released, send
an email to
or check www.CTOMentor.com/wireless/
- Microsoft’s Weak Xbox Security: From
the It’s Not Really Surprising Department comes an
item forwarded by Alert SNS Reader Todd Mortenson. MIT student
Andrew Huang has figured out how to retrieve the software
“keys” that a game disc must contain for the Xbox to recognize
its contents as legitimate code. Andrew took the brute-force
way and soldered a breakout box between two components on
the Xbox motherboard that allowed him to observe system traffic.
He says it took him only three weeks to get the secret keys
because the Xbox security codes weren’t encrypted. Microsoft
instead opted for “security by obscurity” measures, including
dummy hardware chips. Developers with the security keys could
create Web browsers, MP3 players, or other applications for
the Xbox. And that would be wrong, obviously.
One of the truly unfortunate realities of research such as
Huang’s is that the Digital Millennium Copyright
Act makes it illegal, even if he doesn’t share the results.
Microsoft, so far, is saying it won’t prosecute. However,
Princeton researchers who broke the Secure Digital Music Initiative
(SDMI) digital copy protection schemes weren’t so lucky, although
their case has recently
been resolved without penalties, but also without a court
ruling on the First Amendment rights of researchers.
- Wireless Predictions: Synchrologic,
a company that provides centrally managed services for fleets
of handhelds, has made a not-so-surprising prediction: Within
a year the majority of handhelds will be centrally managed.
In a survey, more than 70 percent of respondents expected
to centrally purchase and manage handhelds within 18 months,
with just over 40 percent already there. Of course, this prediction
is a bit self-serving, but other aspects of Synchrologic’s
survey are very interesting.
- Lindows and Microsoft in Trademark Trouble:
You might expect Microsoft to be fiercely protective of its
trademark on Windows®, and you might expect that they would
take a dim view of a company like Lindows, founded by MP3.com founder and
former Chief Executive Officer Michael Robertson. Lindows
is claiming that its Linux-based OS, LindowsOS, can run both
Linux and Windows applications.
Naturally, Microsoft sued in December, 2001, but clear thinking
Judge John C. Coughenour denied
a temporary injunction in March and has thrown open the question
of Microsoft’s trademark on Windows, saying that generic terms
can’t be trademarked. The judge said in his opinion that Microsoft's
claim to the Windows trademark might be precarious, as the
mark was both generic and had been rejected multiple times
by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office before its approval
in 1995. In May, the judge denied Microsoft’s request that
he reconsider his ruling and said Lindows could use the name
at least until a trial could be held next April.
The worst of it is: Microsoft shot themselves in the foot.
It submitted materials, including press reports at the time
of Windows’ introduction, and entries from Microsoft's own
computer terms dictionary, that the judge claims show that
“windows” is a generic term. Such materials are evidence that
Microsoft's Windows is a product within a group of products,
one part of the test of genericness, Coughenour ruled. “Even
Microsoft's own computer dictionary includes expansive definitions
of ‘windowing environment’ and ‘windowing software,’” the
judge's order read.
Add to this insult the fact that WalMart
is now selling Lindows-equipped PCs for 300 bucks, and you
can understand Redmond’s discomfort. Plus the company says
it plans to
allow any computer maker to put Lindows on as many PCs as
it wants for a $500 license fee. Brilliant!
Stay tuned. This one could get even more interesting.
- Motorola Pitches Canopy: Motorola,
despite a recent reputation for missing the boat (see a previous
SNS) on new trends, is making a strong bid as a player in
the fixed wireless market. Canopy, released this week, operates
on the unlicensed, but less noisy, 5.25-5.35 GHz and 5.725-5.825
GHz spectrum, and delivers 10Mbps speed. Motorola has set
very attractive pricing to create a very low barrier to entry
for wireless broadband entrepreneurs. A single access point
can serve a 2- to 10-mile area. And the best thing about the
system is it doesn’t require an expensive truck roll to install.
Consumers or businesses just plug it in (indoors) and it works,
according to the company. Despite its very recent unveiling,
45 Web providers are already using Canopy.
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14, 1928 - July 5, 2003
Jane C. Ellsworth
20, 1928 - July 20, 2003