Air Clock


PDA Live reports that AirSpell has an impressive new Palm clock/IR application, called AirClock. It can function as a regular clock/alarm app for your Palm device but it also provides timed remote actions for other IR enabled devices.

Alarm not loud enough? Set the AirClock to wake you with your TV or Stereo system in the morning. The latest version supports the enhanced IR of the various Cli devices.

Year in Review


Year-end wrap-ups are as predictable as the rain in Oregon. But I’ve got movies see and intoxicants to consume. No time! So here are a few picks if you just must have a year in review feature.

Wireless Manifesto


Brewster Kahle nailed a Community LAN manifesto a couple years ago with his SF LAN Manifesto:

SF LAN Manifesto
  • Bring Moore’s law to Internet bandwidth: 1Mb/sec for $1/month in 10 years.
  • Low-cost megabit ISP built by users, spread like a virus
  • Welcome to the neighborhood: you are on the net.
  • Radio locally, fiber globally.
  • The Wireless Commons Manifesto, created by a group of Community LAN activitists, elaborates on the concept.

    “We have formed the Wireless Commons because a global wireless network is within our grasp. We will work to define and achieve a wireless commons built using open spectrum, and able to connect people everywhere. We believe there is value to an independent and global network which is open to the public. We will break down commercial, technical, social and political barriers to the commons.”

    Signatories of the manifesto say the features of a community network should include:

    Non-Discriminatory Routing
    Nodes in the network must pass all traffic regardless of origin, destination or content. It will be important to allow node owners to deal with abusive activity but whenever possible routing agreements should be as open as possible.

    Organic Growth
    In general all that should be required to join is to find someone that is already connected and make arrangements directly with them. This is very similar to the way the Internet originally grew.

    Mesh Networking
    Mesh networking has to potential to allow new nodes to be automatically be detected and integrated into the network, allow broken nodes to be automatically culled as well as routes through the network to be optimized on the fly.

    Distributed Ownership
    By making sure that ownership of the network is distributed across the community as a whole we can make it as difficult as possible for the network to be commandeered.

    Best Effort
    Adopting the principle of “best effort”, one of the principles that the Internet was built upon, means that the network is less encumbered and can grow more freely.

    End-to-End Connectivity
    Any two hosts on the network should be able to directly contact each other without the help of a third party. This allows any device which is capable of joining the network to be capable of also acting as a server.

    Fully Routable Addresses
    Not only should wireless clients be able to get to the Internet, but the Internet should be able to get to the wireless clients. This opens up the new possibilities of being able to offer services world wide from a device hosted on a community network.

    Fault Isolation
    It is inevitable that an open network will eventually experience abuse. The network should be architected in a way that limits the amount of damage that a single attack can cause.

    Anonymous Access
    Anonymous speech is one of the requirements of a free society. An open wireless network provides a perfect platform for us support this.

    Building Use and Generating Content
    The more people that use the network, the more people that have a vested interest in our continued existence. The generation of content which lives on the wireless network may be the key to building usage.

    Wi-Fi Growth Summary


    Market researcher Forward Concepts reports that shipments of WLAN products increased more than 100 percent in 2002, and will continue growing as the most charged wireless market performer for the next several years. While average equipment prices overall dropped by almost 28 percent, revenues increased more than 50 percent to $2.6 billion worldwide in 2002.

    The study forecasts that the WLAN equipment market will continue growing at a 43 percent compound annual growth rate, reaching the $10.3 billion level in 2006.

    The WLAN chip market grew more than 43 percent in 2002 to $364 million, despite a 31 percent decline in overall average selling prices (ASPs). The study also projected that overall WLAN chip revenues will continue to grow at a 49 percent CAGR in the midst of continual ASP declines and raised competition, which will force some companies to exit the market.

    On the Wi-Fi side, Forward Concepts reported that the 5GHz 802.11a market will have a very short life, giving way to combo 802.11ab and 802.11ag devices, with the 2.4GHz 802.11b market continuing to be the major player.

    Researcher ABI thinks by 2004 revenue from dual-band chipsets will exceed those from 802.11g and 802.11b. The market entry of Taiwanese IC players in 2003 will further pressure 802.11b pricing. The pattern of continuous price declines will quickly extend beyond the existing 802.11b chip market into 802.11g and dual-band segments.

    The report also predicted that the hot-spot market that began with Starbucks Coffee is hot. Starbucks and T-Mobile now have close to 2000 “hot spots” while Boingo currently has about 1,000 affiliated hot spots. Cometa plans to deploy 20,000 Wi-Fi access points in the coming years. They plan to begin setting up hot spots throughout the top 50 cities in the United States next year, with AT&T providing network infrastructure and management, and IBM providing wireless site installations and back-office systems.

    NodedB maps some of estimated 15 million hot spots in homes and businesses across the United States.

    The Federal Communications Commission’s biannual report said there were approximately 16.2 million broadband customers as of June 2002, up from 9.6 million a year earlier and 12.8 million six months before.

    Globally, in terms of absolute DSL lines, the United States ranks high, but in terms of DSL per 100 population, the US has fallen below the bottom of the chart. In the United States, DSL is mostly for the wealthy class or computer-oriented geeks.

    Can Wi-Fi Kill Cellular?


    Much has been made of AT&T’s scaled back launch of true 3G (W-CDMA) service in the United States. Instead of launching in 13 major U.S. cities next June, AT&T’s 3G rollout will now be limited to four cities — San Francisco, Seattle, Dallas and San Diego — and won’t be ready until the end of 2004.

    It’s tempting to think that Cometa Networks, the joint venture of AT&T Wireless, IBM and Intel for Wi-Fi everywhere, played a role in slowing the 3G rollout.

    It’s no big thang, sez Alan Reiter:

    “There has been a lot of writing about how WiFi is going to kill 3G. Baloney. 3G — whether CDMA or GSM — has advantages not just for data but also for voice because 3G increases voice capacity. Indeed, even the mighty NTT DoCoMo of i-mode fame wanted to implement 3G because of the increased voice capacity.

    So, 3G (whatever you call it — 1xRTT, EDGE, WCDMA — and in whatever iteration) will continue to be around because it increases voice capacitiy. But 3G and 2.5G, the hype notwithstanding, are offering better data speeds than 2G circuit switched data which typically offers, oh, around 10K bps (plus or minus a couple of K).”

    What’s happening with 3G? Here’s a quick roundup:

    NTT DoCoMo, the world’s 2nd largest cell-phone carrier (after Vodaphone), was the first to roll out true 3G (W-CDMA) service in Japan, in October 2001. It has been a massive disappointment. The true 3G system gathered only 10% of their projected sales – but it DOES work according to Wireless Watch Japan. Their services now include i-motion, M-Stage Live, and video conferencing. NTT is dumping Microsoft’s ASF video (Advanced Streaming Format) on its I-motion service in favor of MPEG-4.

    On December 20, 2002, Vodaphone, the largest cellular company on the planet, rolled out W-CDMA service in Japan with carrier J-Phone. As of January 2003, “3G service would be available in the Tokyo metropolitan area as well as major cities and towns nationwide, totaling some “865 cities, wards, towns, and villages” to cover approximately 71.1% of the population”. J-Phone uses the Nancy codec for real-time video compression/decompression delivering full-color video at up to 30 frames per second. It’s used in their 2.5G “Movie Sha-Mail” video mail system, a big honkin’ hit. J-Phone is owned by UK-based Vodafone Group and Japan Telecom.

    Japan’s third 3G network, KDDI, provides a 2.5G system (similar to CDMA 1X networks used by Sprint and Verizon in the United States). KDDI took off in Japan when movie mail came out. KDDI got more subscribers in a month than DoCoMo’s W-CDMA system managed in a year.

    Takeshi Natsuno is the man responsible for developing i-mode. Formerly known as NTT Mobile Communications Network, the DoCoMo name is a play on dokomo, the Japanese word for “everywhere.” The company is 63% owned by Japan’s incumbent telco, Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp., of which the Japanese government owns 46%.

    NEC’s “Pocket@i” PDA may be the wave of the future. It’s got built-in VoIP via wireless LAN and PHS functions. It integrates the performance of a PDA and mobile phone/PHS within a PocketPC. A spoken-word pocket interpreter is also planned.

    Meanwhile, Sharp’s Zaurus PDA makes telephone calls over Wi-Fi networks in Japan. Sharp has achieved about a 30-percent power reduction at 5GHz on a wireless LAN. Intel is investing in Wi-Fi including companies like TeleSym and Navini. TeleSym is an IP telephony software company based in Bellevue, Washington. Their VoIP software can be used on mobile PCs and handheld devices. Navini uses phased array antennas to deliver mobile IP on the unlicensed 2.4 GHz band several miles to client PC cards.

    Developing VoiceXML applications doesn’t appear all that hard. The XHTML+Voice specification was jointly developed by Opera and IBM. They took the VoiceXML specification, which defines voice-based applications and mixed it with XHTML and VoiceXML modules. VoiceXML tags can prompt a user to select a city, for example, through voice. The user would then speaks a city name and the browser interprets and displays the contents. Currently, voice “portals” such as TellMe and BeVocal offer voice access to stock quotes, movie and restaurant listings. Getting a map to the closest restaurant on your cell phone will, essentially, require a PocketPC – or something like it.

    Will hand-helds with VoIP kill the cellular business? You bet.

    Vivato’s Wi-Fi Switch gives mobile Wi-Fi users a 4 mile range. It uses ordinary $50 Wi-Fi client cards in hand-helds. Navini also uses the unlicensed 2.4 GHz band (as well as MMDS) and uses a more “rugged” synchronous CDMA (S-CDMA) air interface similar to Qualcom’s and that used in DOCSIS 2.0 rather than stock 802.11. For more range and reliability, Arraycomm and Flarion can deliver 1 Mbps to PC Cards over licensed bands with range that’s similar to cellular (“at one-tenth the cost”). It’s being deployed in countries around the world.

    Imperial forces must deliver stockholder value. AOL hopes to generate over $159/month per sub. AT&T Broadband paid $4,000 per sub aquiring cable properties and needs similar revenue streams. Three-G providers like AT&T, Cingular, Verizon and Sprint aren’t much better off.

    They must kill Wi-Fi or be killed.

    If Cometa uses Navini wireless backbones they might simultaneously wipe out “free” community “hot spots” with the noise floor of S-CDMA while delivering branded subscription service. But VoIP on Pocket PCs is a problem for circuit-switched cellular carriers. Cometa gives too much power to Intel and IBM. It’s not going to fly. Moore’s law says so.

    Net result: Kansas is going bye-bye. It should be an interesting year.