Peer to Peer Wireless Networks



Mesh Networking makes audio (or video) files available anywhere, anytime. Each user device acts as a router/repeater for other devices. Hopping through other users reaches network access points not otherwise available. Hopping increases the coverage area by leveraging users as part of the network.

The Radiant system is being trialed by the BBC in the UK. It uses 28 or 40 ghz point to point radios. The main feed to the mesh is a 155mb ATM link. Each hub has 4 directional antennas so it can talk to 4 other sites. Range is 1-3 Km and the hubs are about $7,000. Trial customers in the 80-square-kilometre area will receive movies and music on-demand. The 28 GHz LMDS band has drawbacks; equipment is expensive, it requires an (FCC) license and range is short.

Community Networks often use Rob Flickenger’s open-source captive portal application, NoCatAuth (slide tutorial). Sharing Internet access with a next-door neighbor is one thing. Setting up a neighborhood network that can support dozens of users and provide reliable access for small businesses is more challenging. Mesh networking in the unlicensed band may provide an inexpensive alternative.

Mesh Networking Systems
Mesh networking provides non line-of-sight by relaying signals to neighboring nodes until a good backhaul connection is found. This technique allows low power (and 802.11a/b/g devices) to cover larger areas.

  • Orlando-based MeshNetworks has been granted an experimental license for demonstrations nationally in both the 2.4 GHz and 5.7 GHz bands. Their solution works with 802.11 for voice, video and data at highway speeds. MeshLAN extends the range and robustness of existing WLANs by adding new Multi-Hopping and peer-to-peer capabilities to 802.11 cards. Mesh Network’s new ASIC will fit in PC Cards, Compact Flash and Mini-PCI. Mesh Networks uses QDMA and features built-in geo-location with “smart” antenna technology. They deliver up to 6 Mbps of broadband data to every subscriber, “hopping” through neighborhood cells.

  • CoWave’s MeshCast uses two 5 MHz spectrum bands in up to 8 sectors with 6 mbps delivered to an indoor, self-installed unit. It provides broadband network access at multi-megabit rates and connects to the Ethernet or USB port of the computer. The Base station aggregates traffic for all the sectors and connects to the service provider backbone. The company plans to develop gear for all bands below 6 GHz, and expects to begin shipping MestCast equipment for systems deployed in the 1900 MHz (PCS) band in the fourth quarter.

  • Wave Wireless is shipping industrial strength mesh networking products for the 2.4 GHz band. They are using PacketHop technology developed at SRI, using their Mobile Ad-hoc Networks (MANET) mesh protocol. PacketHop reduces the data overhead of mesh networking although each node must remain “on” to pass the signal.

  • Mobile Mesh (FAQ), is a suite of non-proprietary protocols and Linux based software tools developed at Mitre that provide a mobile adhoc networking capability.

Non-Mesh Systems (using MMDS)
Multipoint Multichannel Distribution Services (MMDS) can use more power but require licensed frequencies. MMDS systems are licensed to operate on sixteen (16) channels – each 6MHz wide – with 200 MHz of spectrum (between 2.5 GHz and 2.7 GHz). It was originally conceived as “wireless cable” but later was allowed to provide two-way data for “wireless internet”. MMDS systems are often deployed in a full 360 configuration, and powered to cover the maximum distance allowed by the FCC (35 mile radius). In practice more than one base station is often required due to interference.

Sprint paid $448.8 million for American Telecasting MMDS licenses covering a potential 10 million households in Denver, Portland, Ore., Seattle and Las Vegas. Sprint also got four (6 MHz) ITFS channels in Portland, and other communities. Sprint’s spectrum portfolio includes more than 1,100 channels in 90 markets. Those agreements allow for two-way, cellularized, broadband voice, video and data services.

Other licensed Frequencies
The 2150-2162 MHz are allocated to the original MDS band while the 2.3 GHz, Wireless Communications Service has 30 MHz of spectrum from 2305 to 2320 MHz and 2345 to 2360 MHz. Higher up, the Local Multipoint Distribution Service (LMDS) uses 27.35 – 28.35 GHz, 29.1 – 29.25 GHz and 31.0 – 31.3 GHz freqency bands. Broadband auction bandplans show who’s got what. Search the FCC database for licenses in your area.

Name of the Game
Delivering 3G-like services to “hot spots” or individual laptops is the name of the game. Several companies have announced national “hot spot” initiatives including HP, Toshiba and IBM. MMDS could tie them together. MMDS competitors for mesh networking include:

The 2.4/5.8 GHz Band (Meshed and N-LOS)
The unlicensed 2.4/5.8 GHz band might feed a Community LAN “hot spot”. Can’t get “wireless DSL” directly? Then try an unlicensed mesh network. It might give you “wiggle room” to the nearest hub. Intel and Microsoft are working on “soft Wi-Fi” which could make peer-to-peer networking more common.

  • Aperto’s 5.8 GHz PacketWave base station and subscriber units provide up to 8 Mbps to over 3,000 students and 267 classrooms, in the Sacramento school district.

  • Alvarion has a variety of industrial-strength wireless solutions in its Breeze Access line for voice, data and IP services.

  • Iospan Wireless uses two transmit antennas at the base station and three receivers at both ends of its links. Iospan’s multiple antenna technology is known as MIMO, for multiple-input, multiple-output. At 6 km, over 6 Mb/s down and 4 Mb/s up is possible. Iospan’s multiple antenna enhancements of the OFDM modulation technique are being standardized in the IEEE 802.16 Working Group on Broadband Wireless Access Standards.

  • Westerm Multiplex’s Tsunami 100 Mbps 5.8 GHz provides connections for distances up to 18 miles. Their Tsunami Multipoint enables up to 60 Mbps per base station, and up to six base stations per hub site. List pricing for subscriber units ranges from $1,295 for a 20 Mbps model to $2,995 for a 60 Mbps model. Western Multiplex’s highest-capacity wireless system, the Lynx OC-3 is designed to provide 155 Mpbs of bandwidth for distances of up to seven miles

  • Cirronet’s WaveBolt supports up to 960 subscribers (point to multi-point), typically within a three to five mile range. The 5.8 GHz WaveBolt system uses frequency hopping spread spectrum (FHSS) technology

  • Motorola’s Canopy has a pt-to-pt range of about 10 miles. Cascade Networks uses Canopy for their wireless interent in Vancouver, Washington.

  • NextWeb: Provides broadband Internet access, data security solutions and web hosting in the 5.8 GHz band for public and private sector clients throughout the San Francisco Bay area and Silicon Valley. Base stations on high-rise building rooftops use wireless access units with sectorized directional antennas. Each unit typically allows a three-mile range, giving a fully provisioned base station coverage over a 28 square mile area. Up to 250 subscriber units can be deployed per sector, with user throughput of 25 Mbps, dynamically allocated among users, upstream or downstream.

  • Navini Networks: Can use the unlicensed 2.4 GHz band, with CDMA to deliver DSL speeds using a small, inexpensive wireless device. Sprint is conducting a trial and Intel is a partner incorporating the technology in its 802.11b Access Point.

  • Nokia’s Mesh Network: Using the unlicensed 2.4 GHz band, Vista Broadband uses the system to deliver 2 Mbps for $50/mo.

  • Open AP: Although experimental, Instant 802 (list archives) “burns” an AP with a Linux system creating an inexpensive, meshed networking system. It uses mostly obsolete Access Points but rumor has it that newer commercial boxes will soon be available.

Roaming
Wireless software maker iPass will provide its roaming software for free. About eight equipment makers, including Cisco Systems, and eight wireless Internet service providers have been using its software for roaming between different “hot spots”. The Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance (WECA) may take at least another year on their roaming standard, which led to the creation of an upstart group called Pass-One, which has just begun working on a proposed roaming standard. The iPass Network architecture includes security architecture, with VPN, firewall, and authentication systems, the iPassConnect client, a billing system and the proprietary iPass RoamServer and NetServer, which they claim supports 2,000 corporate customers on 160 unique networks.

Optical Mesh Networking
There are several compaines working on optical mesh networks which require no frequency license from the FCC. They are STRICTLY line of sight but may offer advantages. Companies with FSO equipment include Canon (which has adapted camcorder anti-shake electronics to it’s gear, Terabeam, based in Kirkland, Washington, SONAbeam (BC), and San Diego companies AirFiber, LightPointe and Optical Access. Cisco’s COMET brings together SONET, DWDM, Ethernet, MESH and storage to create scalable, service-rich networks.

Meanwhile, Free Networks.org reports on a wireless network in Prague that uses 802.11b – and OPTICAL NETWORKING. Their homemade optical network gear, the optical equivalent of a Pringle can antenna, uses common parts like LEDs for 10Mbps links.

Learn More
Wireless LAN resources for Linux as well as software like PacketHop and Mobile Mesh may be downloaded. CMU Projects and the journal, SIG Mobile have many ideas. Wireless campus networks include CMU’s Wireless Andrew and PSU’s PubNet. Portland State Professors, James Binkley and Suresh Sing, teach classes dealing with “Wireless Peer to Peer Computing”. Perhaps PSU’s Intelligent Transportation Systems Lab could apply wireless peer to peer in the field. UCSD’s CyberShuttle uses 802.11b inside the bus while 1XEV-DO provides a 2.4 Mbps backbone.

Free the LMDS Band
The solution for unbiquitous broadband is simple; remove the license restrictions on the 28 GHz band for “wireless cable”. Imagine 100 Mbps wireless using LMDS for the backbone, unlicensed 60 GHz (at 622 Mbps) from pole-top distribution points and Ultra Wideband for “wireless Firewire” around the house.

With 1 GHz of bandwidth “freed” and an open marketplace, the decimated LMDS industry could be salvaged. At 28 GHz, far more bandwidth is available then on the 802.11b band (85 MHZ) and 802.11a band (300 MHz). The IEEE 802.16 committee has approved a package of standards for the LMDS band but without a viable LMDS market it is going nowhere.

The FCC will probably allow RBOCs to run monopoly DSL services without “equal access”. Then the cost of DSL and cable broadband will likely rise. The broadband market will move to the far East. The United States has dropped from 5th place to 10th place in broadband deployment and may continue to spiral down.

Free the LMDS band now! Add a $5k Terabyte Array for Video On Demand. And Peer-to-Peer.

Cellular and 4G Systems



Cellular Telephony
Cellular telephony (How It Works) requires two channel pairs, one for transmission and one for reception. There are 2 bands for analog cellular (800) Mhz service. The cellular industry is a government-mandated “duopoly”; there are only two 800 Mhz cellular licensees in each of the 734 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) and rural service areas (RSAs). One licensee is the “B-side” or “wireline” carrier affiliated with the local telephone company. The other cellular licensee is the “A-side” or independent “nonwireline” carrier. Each licensee is allocated 25 MHz of spectrum in the 800 MHz band.

Analog cellular has 624 voice channels. In Portland, the duopoly cellular providers are AT&T Wireless and Verizon Wireless. By converting 800MHz from analog to digital more subscribers can fit on the band. Nextel uses a nearby band but is not strictly considered either a PCS or cellular provider.

PCS
There are 6 bands in the 1900 Mhz range for PCS. All are 100% digital. The FCC divided the PCS band into six licensing blocks (designated as “A” through “F”) based on Rand McNally major trading areas (MTAs) and basic trading areas (BTAs) for two 30 MHz MTA, one 30 MHz BTA, and three 10 MHz BTA licenses.

The 6 PCS bands (A, B, C, D, E & F) are not all used. The “C” band, for example, was re-auctioned and the D,E and F bands are often available. The FCC’s wireless division has the lastest auction news.

The Air Interface
The air interface defines the modulation scheme.

  • GSM is a circuit-switched system that divides each 200kHz channel into eight 25kHz time-slots. GSM operates in the 1.9GHz PCS band in the US.
  • CDMA operates in the 800MHz band and 1.9GHz PCS band and supports data transfer speeds of up to 14.4 kbit/s.
  • TDMA, used as a digital upgrade for analog cellular, it divides each cellular channel into three time slots, tripling the data capacity from analog technology.
  • Cellular Digital Packet Data (CDPD): A wireless data-only packet overlay for the existing analog AMPS network in the U.S., CDPD shunts data over unused intervals in the voice channels. It has a data transfer rate of 19.2 kbit/s.

How it Works
A cell-phone carrier receives about 800 frequencies to use across the city. The carrier chops up the city into cells. Each cell phone uses two frequencies per call — a duplex channel — so there are typically 395 voice channels per carrier (the other 42 frequencies are used for control channels). A single cell, in an analog system, uses only one-seventh of the available duplex voice channels (to avoid interfering with neighboring cells. Therefore, each cell has about 56 voice channels available. With TDMA a single channel can carry three times as many calls (about 168) because the channel is simultaneously shared by multiple people. But two different frequencies are still required. Digital cellular prioritizes voice, using circuit switching, and slow data transfer. With EDGE, data rates may increase up to three fold over GPRS using PSK modulation on the same channel spacing. 3G will emphasize data, with packet switching.

3G Evolution
Cellular providers use two frequencies in all their “evolutions” to 3G. Sprint PCS and Verizon Wireless use CDMA, while Nextel is based on iDEN technology. AT&T Wireless, Cingular and VoiceStream are the three TDMA/GSM carriers. To reach 3G status, all three GSM carriers will have to upgrade their networks in stages, from GPRS (general packet radio service) to EDGE (enhanced data for GSM evolution) to the eventual 3G destination, UMTS (universal mobile telecommunications system).

True 3G cellular with 384Kbps or faster speed won’t happen for years in the US. Spectrum isn’t available and cost is high. Currently, Verizon’s Express Network and Sprint’s 2.5G network will deliver 40-60Kbps. AT&T is upgrading it’s GPRS service to EDGE this year while Cingular may spend $4 billion. Cellular data may top out at 60-144Kbps for years to come. The 3G Newsroom has the latest poop.

MMDS Systems
MMDS systems are licensed to operate on sixteen (16) channels – each 6MHz wide – with 200 MHz of spectrum (between 2.5 GHz and 2.7 GHz). It was originally conceived as “wireless cable” but later was allowed to provide two-way data for “wireless internet”. MMDS systems are often deployed in a full 360 configuration, and powered to cover the maximum distance allowed by the FCC (35 mile radius). In practice more than one base station is often required due to interference.

Sprint paid $448.8 million for American Telecasting MMDS licenses covering a potential 10 million households in Denver, Portland, Ore., Seattle and Las Vegas Sprint also got four (6 MHz) ITFS channels in Portland, and other communities. Sprint’s spectrum portfolio includes more than 1,100 channels in 90 markets. Those agreements allow for two-way, cellularized, broadband voice, video and data services.

Other licensed Frequencies
The 2150-2162 MHz are allocated to the original MDS band while the 2.3 GHz, Wireless Communications Service has 30 MHz of spectrum from 2305 to 2320 MHz and 2345 to 2360 MHz. Higher up, the Local Multipoint Distribution Service (LMDS) uses 27.35 – 28.35 GHz, 29.1 – 29.25 GHz and 31.0 – 31.3 GHz freqency bands. Broadband auction bandplans show who’s got what.

Licensed Frequencies More Costly
The fixed cost for the base station infrastructure (building, power, tower, heat, light, etc) can be $1 million and incremental wireless equipment can cost another million. MMDS systems are more expensive than unlicensed 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz systems but they have the advantage of more power and licensed frequencies. Smart antennas are now being applied to the MMDS band to concentrate the signal to multiple, individual users.

Combined with “smart antennas”, MMDS systems have the potential to deliver mobile data at 144Kbps to 1.5Mbps. Indoor receivers, the size of a PDA or even incorporated into a PC Card, have the potential of delivering point-to-multipoint wireless broadband without a truck roll.

By eliminating circuit-switched, dual-frequency overhead of cellular and using a single (6MHz) frequency with a powerful, N-LOS base station, MMDS providers claim they can deliver more cost/effective mobile broadband – “4G”.

Community LANs
Community LANs, using the unlicensed 2.4 and 5 GHz bands, are restricted in power and bandwidth and are more prone to interference since the frequencies are available for anyone. The 2.4 GHz band has “only” 85 MHz while 5 Ghz band has a total of 300 MHz – although only 5.25-5.35 and 5.725-5.825 (200 MHz total) can be used outdoors. The 5.8 GHz band may have the most potential to deliver “backbone” service because more power is allowed (up to 200 watts – EIRP). Combined with “smart antennas” and “mesh” networking, many companies are convinced that the unlicensed 5 GHz will provide the most cost/effective solution for community networks.

Time-Division Multiplexing
Community LANs, based on unlicensed WiFi gear, and MMDS systems, based on licensed frequencies, both use a single channel to communicate – Time Division. This works fine for data but is problematic for voice. With enough speed, however, the two-way voice is possible. Time Division Duplexing (TDD) provides a scheme where a single channel is used for both upstream and downstream transmissions. A TDD system can dynamically allocate upstream and downstream bandwidth depending on traffic requirements.

Instead of needing two spectrum channels (one for transmit and one for receive), companies like Arraycomm can do both over one. TDD is well suited to Internet access as there is much downloading and little uploading, but problematic for voice – where the split is more even. The use of this technique saves 3G bidders precious cash as they bid for less spectrum. That was what brought Arraycomm to Australia. Australia let Arraycomm bid on only “half” on the 3G spectrum. Most “4G” systems intend to use licensed frequencies, usually in the 2.5 GHz MMDS band. But the unlicensed 5.8 GHz band could become the proving ground for a range of last mile services.

“4G” Goes Operational
In March of last year CKW Wireless – an Australian company founded by Arraycomm – licensed a small piece of spectrum in the Australian 3G Auctions for a modest $9.5 million. They plan “4G” wireless using only one half of the frequencies. Of course grass-roots Wi-Fi networks are sprouting up in Australia, too.

Nextel May Try “4G”
In the United States, Nextel may be planning to use Flarion’s system before the end of the year. Nextel is already testing Flarion’s equipment.

Nextel’s spectrum realignment plan is being deliberated by the FCC. The proposal calls for Nextel to exchange 16 megahertz of spectrum spread around the 700 MHz, 800 MHz and 900 MHz bands for 6 megahertz in the upper 800 MHz band and 10 megahertz in the 2.1 GHz band. If approved, this would leave Nextel with 16 megahertz of contiguous spectrum in the upper 800 MHz band, on which the carrier could continue to offer its voice service, and 10 megahertz in the 2.1 GHz band to offer 3G services in the future.

Meanwhile, Verizon, an investor in Beamreach may do trials with the Beamreach system.

The TDD Coalition
The TDD Coalition includes companies like IPWireless Adaptive Broadband, Aperto Networks, ArrayComm, BeamReach Networks, CALY Networks, Clearwire Technologies, Harris Corporation, IPWireless, LinkAir, Malibu Networks, Radiant Networks, and Raze Technologies.

Members of the TDD Coalition include the following “4G” hopefuls:

Aperto Networks ArrayComm BeamReach Networks CALY Networks IPWireless Radiant Networks
Freq 5.8 GHZ MMDS MMDS 28MHz MMDS 28MHz
Speed 8 Mbps 1 Mbps 1.2 Mbps MESH 6 Mbps 25 Mbps MESH
Range 5 miles 5 miles 21 miles 6 miles 6 miles 20 miles?
Modulation COFDM Adaptive MultiBeam OFDMTM ? ? TD-CDMA QPSK, QAM16 or QAM64
Phased Tx? No Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Receive Ant? Outside Indoors in or outdoor MESH Indoors Outdoors
Investors ? ? Verizon Nokia $120 M Intel Capital
Trials Operational Australia Ops Q3 2002 Testing Operational BT Trials
5.8 GHz Band? Yes No No No No No
Other QOS TDD Other Meshed LMDS Sprint trial No central tower

Wireless Communications Members
Press releases from WCAI members show a variety of wireless approaches for the “last mile”.


SUPPLIERS

Advanced Radio Cells
ADVANTECH
Airdata WIMAN Systems
Airspan Networks
Alcatel
Allot Communciations
Alopa Networks
Alvarion
Amplidyne
Analog Devices Inc.
Andrew Corp.
Anritsu Company
Antel International, Inc.
Aperto Networks
Applied Instruments

ARC Wireless Solutions
ArrayComm
Axcera
BeamReach Networks
Bechtel Telecommunications
Berkeley Varitronics
Black & Veatch Telecommunications
BOPS

Boundless Communications
BridgeWave Communications
Broadband Services Inc.
Broadcast Data Corporation
Broadcom Corporation
Broadlink Communications
Broadstorm Telecommunications
Cable AML
Cable Technologies International
California Amplifier
CALY Networks
Cambridge Broadband
CelPlan
Centerpoint Broadband Tech.
Ceragon Networks
Cirronet
Cisco Systems
Citel, Inc.
Clearwire Equipment
Cointesa
Comarco Wireless Technologies
Computers & Controls
CoWave Networks
CTCSP Corporation
Data Visualization Systems

Digital Broadband Applications
DragonWave
DynCorp Information Systems
Easy Up
Electronic Environments
Elektrobit
EMCEE Broadcast Products
EMS Wireless Broadband
Endwave
Ensemble Communications

e_tenna Corporation
eXpert Wireless Solutions
Fiber Optic Services
Fine Point Technologies
Gabriel Electronics
Gamma Nu
General Dynamics
GenTek Network Systems
Global Communication Devices
Gold Mind Telecom
Harmonix Corporation
Harris Corp.
HeliOss Communications
Hitachi America
HRL Laboratories
Hughes Network Systems
Hybrid Networks
Incospec Communications
InnoWave ECI Wireless Systems
Intec Telecom Systems
interWAVE Communications
Invention Marketing
Iospan Wireless
ioWave

IPWireless
ITS Electronics
J.A. Telcom
Kb/Tel Telecomunicaciones
Lance Industries
Lucid Voice
Lucix Corporation

Magnolia Broadband
Malibu Networks
Mapping Analytics
Marconi
Maxrad

MidCoast Internet Solutions
Millennium Digital
Millimetrix Broadband Networks
MMCOMM
mm-Tech, Inc.

Moseley Associates
Motorola
MTI Wireless Edge

Nagra Vision
Navini Networks

NEC America
Nera Networks
Netro Corporation
NextNet Wireless
Nokia Networks
Northwood Technologies

Ogier Electronics
OKI Electric Ind Co. Ltd
Optomic Microwaves Ltd.
Orckit Communications
Paratek Microwave
P-Com, Inc.
PipingHot Networks
Plessey Microwave & RF Products
Pointred Technologies
Prime Wave Communications
Proxim
Provigent
Purcell Systems
Q-East.com

Radiant Networks
Radio Waves
RADWIN Ltd.
Raze Technologies
Redline Communications
Remec Inc.
Renaissance Electronics
RF Integration, Inc.
RF Magic
RF Solutions
Radio Frequency Systems
Rohn Industries
Runcom Technologies
Roqiya Networks
SAIC
Sencore Electronics
Siemens
Signal Technology Corp.

SkyStream Networks
Slingshot Wireless Communications
Solectek Corporation
SOMA Networks
Spectrum Signal Processing
Speedcom Wireless Corporation

SR Telecom
Stanford Microdevices
Stran Technologies
Stratex Networks
Sumtel Communications
Swedcom Corporation
Tadiran Scopus
Tantivy Communications
Telaxis Communications
TelecomUniverse
TelisciCOM
Terayon
TESSCO Technologies
Thales Broadcast & Multimedia
Times Microwave Systems
Trango Broadband Wireless
TranSystem, Inc.
TurboWave

United Communications Systems International
Unique Broadband Systems
U.S. Electronics
V-Comm
Vectrad Networks

Vytek Wireless
Vyy
WaveCom Electronics
WaveIP, Ltd.
WaveRider Communications
Wavion

Wi-LAN

Wideband Semiconductor
Wireless OnLine Brazil
WJ Communications
Wytec

Many of these companies believe they can deliver high-speed voice and data cheaper than cellular.

Time will tell.

Single chip – Dual Band



Intersil’s GTRAN modem card combines wireless LAN and CDMA connectivity in a PC card. Meanwhile, Zyray Wireless, Airify and others are also shooting for global integration.

Nokia’s D-311 card combines GPRS and WLAN networks while Gtran has a PC Card that combines 1xRTT CDMA and 802.11b connectivity. Officers in 140 Pennslvania police cruisers now carry laptops connected to a Padcom device in the car that switches them seamlessly between Verizon’s CDPD (Cellular Digital Packet Data) network and any of nine Wi-Fi hotspots at station houses around the city. So does Baltimore and Oakland. Sprint and Boingo will team with 802/cellular roaming using TSI Telecommunication Services roaming software. VoiceStream, which bought MobileStar’s assets will use RadioFrame hardware, an indoor wireless network that converges wireless voice standards and 802.11 data into one system.

WiFi systems are big power hogs while cellular radios are slower but sip juice. Two Canadian companies get more bang for the milliwatt. Icefyre claims it has an 802.11a chipset requiring less than 75 percent of the power needed by competitors while Atsana claims multi-media skills, perhaps not unlike Magis.

Atheros is currently about the only supplier of 5 Gig chips. Soon dozens of competitors will emerge. Expect much lower prices and additional features in the next few months. The really big surge may not happen until the 802.11g standard is solidified, later this year.

World Con


With World Com’s $4 Billion “accounting error” as our inspiration, let’s review some recent poster boys in the telecommunications racket:

  • Ken Lay: Stepped down in January after Enron tanked. Traded everything from bandwidth to employees’ investments.
  • Benard Ebbers: Resigned in April after SEC began investigation of World Com. Borrowed $366 million for a personal loan.
  • Dennis Kozlowski: Former CEO of Tyco filled his offices and residences with Monet, Renoir. A 14 count indictment says he made profits appear to grow faster than they actually did.
  • John Rigas: Head of Adelphia Communications, the nations 6th largest cable tv company, had a family racket, pocketing about $3.1 billion off the balance sheet.
  • Gary Winnick: Global Crossing CEO, bailed with $734 million in stocks before his company crashed.

Meanwhile, Denver-based Qwest has asked its employees to take unpaid leave, saw its debt rating slashed to “junk” status, put assets up for sale, and faced an accounting probe by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Perhaps a re-birth in city-run telecommunications facilities is in order. The Oregonian’s Jeffrey Kosseff reviewed city-run communications networks in Oregon. Tim Pozar trying to get San Francisco bureaucrats to develop a public wireless network. Maybe the time has arrived.

With “open access”, commercial Wireless ISPs might get their bread and butter by providing cellular operators with “wireless T-1″ backhaul lots cheaper than TPC. The rest is gravy. Nextel will use Flarion’s “4G” system in 10 MHz of bandwidth in the 2.1 GHZ band. Police and Fire might be persuaded to share – with enough payola!

Wireless Photography


Newspapers can push their deadlines to the long now with wireless photography. Pocket Phojo ($500) lets news photographers view, crop and annotate their images on a hand-held like the iPaq or Toshiba e740, then use cellular or Wi-Fi networks to send selected photos to an editor (or friends). The new Sharp SL-A300 Zaurus may be the world’s smallest PDA but a $300 iPaq may be more flexible. You could add an IBM microdrive ($130 for 340M) or a 256M CF card ($98) in its expansion pack for the “keepers”.

The eFilm PicturePAD ($549) stores thousands of photos in a pocket device. It features a built-in color LCD screen with an internal 20-30 Gig HD hard drive.

Digital cameras like Nikon’s D100 with 6.1 effective megapixels ($2500) and Canon’s D-60 with 6 megapixels ($2199) use standard Nikon and Canon professional lenses and can save thousands on film and processing. They are destined to replace film in most newspapers. Advanced amateurs have dozens of film-quality models like the Nikon 5700, 5 megapixel camera with 8-1 zoom ($1199). Steve’s Digicams and Digital Photography Review report the latest.

Some photographers use Wi-Fi to trigger remote cameras attached to a remote laptop (on the rafters of a stadium, for example). Then they transfer the photos using Wi-Fi’s adhoc mode. Software like GoToMyPC connects directly to a remote PC and “takes over”. Cameras on the other side of the world can be controlled and accessed anywhere using the internet, cellular, Wi-Fi or even satellite connections.

Ricoh’s i-700 3 megapixel camera ($1200) is a one-piece digital camera with a built-in PCMCIA slot. It’s designed to send photos using either Wi-Fi or cellular networks using cards like Sierra’s 555 card (CDMA) or AirCard 710 for GSM/GPRS. Free photo sharing software can be used to post travel photos or events like weddings.

Express Carriers Do It Mobile


Computerworld reports that ABF Freight Systems Inc., Airborne Express and Consolidated Freightways Corp. have all decided that they don’t really need the third-generation (3G) high-speed mobile data hyped by the cellular industry. The companies are deploying current-generation wireless systems to a total of almost 30,000 mobile workers.

These companies can’t afford to wait for cellular carriers to turn on their multibillion-dollar nationwide high-speed networks, said Marty Larson, senior vice president of sales at Vancouver, Wash.-based Consolidated.

Customers are used to obtaining real-time visibility of their shipments from United Parcel Service Inc. and FedEx Corp. and expect the same from their truckers, he added.

To meet that demand, Consolidated has started deploying 6,000 Web browser-equipped cell phones to its city pickup and delivery drivers running on the nationwide cellular network operated by Nextel Communications Inc. in Reston, Va.

Although the Nextel network operates at data rates far slower than those promised for 3G networks—20K to 40K bit/sec. vs. 144K bit/sec. for 3G—Larson said it’s more than sufficient to transmit the limited amount of data Consolidated needs to provide real-time tracking information. Nextel charges about $40 a month per phone for airtime but gives volume discounts to heavy users such as Consolidated.

Seattle-based Airborne Express, which competes head-on with Memphis-based FedEx and Atlanta-based UPS, knew it had to deploy a competitive wireless system. They’ll use a Motorola hand held operating on either the Nextel network or the Mobitex CDPD network operated by Cingular Wireless, which offers data speeds of just 8K bit/sec.