April Newsbits

April Newsbits

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Written By Eric Sandler

By Naomi Graychase

April 30, 2008

Ooh la la: French iPhone sales are sluggish; Opera delivers Mini browser for Google’s phone platform; Sharp ships wireless HDTV; Meru names new VP of operations; Bluesocket releases new 802.11n Draft 2 dual-radio AP; Billions and billions served? Wayport reaches 10,000 McDonald’s mark; and more.

April 30, 2008

Orange France is the sole provider if the iPhone to the people of France. According to the carrier, 96,000 have been sold since last November. In order to meet its goal of selling 400,000-500,000 iPhones this year, sales will need to pick up. James Alan Miller of iPhoneGuide.com speculates that the iPhone is more popular in the U.S. because Wi-Fi hotspots are more prevalent. For more, read “Orange Sell Over 95K iPhones, T-Mobile Germany Cuts 8GB Price Drastically.”

**First released in January 2006, Opera Mini’s become a widely popular alternative to bundled feature phone and smartphone browsers, having been downloaded more than 40 million times. Earlier this month, a preview version of this Web browser tailored to Google’s Android platform was made available to developers.

Opera made the Android version of Opera Mini available now–long before any so-called gPhone is supposed to become commercially available–so as to give developers time to test and share feedback with the company, which says a beta edition is forthcoming. Developers can obtain Opera Mini for Android at labs.opera.com.

For more details, visit PDAStreet.com.


Sharp announced today it has begun shipping a wireless HDTV based on Amimon’s WHDI chipset. Currently available to Japanese consumers, Sharp says it will be available in the U.S. “soon.”

Amimon’s WHDI technology uses a video-modem approach to deliver wireless uncompressed HDTV. With a range of over 100 feet (30 meters), through multiple walls and with latency of less than one millisecond, WHDI technology offers universal wireless whole-home HD connectivity with quality equivalent to that achieved with HDMI.

According to Amimon, 802.11b/g WLANs should not interfere with the WHDI signal. 802.11a\n networks utilize the 5GHz band—as does WHDI—but, says Amimon, “The WHDI system will automatically identify other 5GHz transmissions and will switch frequencies seamlessly in order to avoid disturbance and interference with the Wi-Fi system.”

The new ultra-thin TVs are part Sharp’s new X-series line, which come in 37-, 42- and 46-inch screen sizes and are only 3.44 cm thick (at their thinnest part).


Meru Networks announced today that it has named a new vice president of operations. Keith Matasci will be reporting to Meru CEO Ihab Abu-Hakima and will be responsible for the company’s supply chain, order fulfillment, planning, forecasting, and facilities. He was previously vice president of operations at TerayonCommunications (acquired by Motorola in 2007) and he served as vice president of operations for CoSineCommunications and vice president of customer service at Silicon Graphics.  He holds a B.S. degree in engineering technology/mechanical engineering and an honorary M.S. in engineering management from California Polytechnic StateUniversity in San Luis Obispo, Calif.

April 29, 2008

At Interop today, Bluesocket announced the availability of its Wi-Fi Alliance-certified 802.11n Draft 2 Acess Point. The BlueSecure Access Point 1800 (BSAP-1800) supports Bluesocket’s existing 802.11n-ready BlueSecure Controller family and Edge-to-Edge™ direct forwarding architecture.

Bluesocket’s WLAN solution can manage both Bluesocket APs and a wide variety of third-party access points. Designed to support secure enterprise voice applications, Bluesocket’s 802.11n solution is also certified interoperable with products from leading voice solution providers Avaya, Spectralink, and Vocera.

The BSAP-1800 ($1295) uses a single 802.3af compliant PoE connector and supports advanced RF management software, secure fast roaming, and full RF-IDS support. 

The dual radio BSAP-1800 includes a custom embedded antenna array supporting 802.11a/n and 802.11b/g/n. Another AP, to be available later this year, provides external antenna options and a/b/g/n/ support on both radios. Both models are configurable to support 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz bands, allowing customers to segment data, voice, and other applications based on their individual business requirements.

Bluesocket also announced today that Anglia Ruskin University (England) is deploying Bluesocket for a campus-wide wireless expansion and transition to a next-generation 802.11n environment. (See “Big WLAN on Campus” for more on that.)


After almost exactly four years, Wayport announced today that it has reached a significant milestone in its McDonald’s Wi-Fi deployments. As of today, more than 10,000 McDonald’s restaurants in the U.S. are equipped with Wayport’s Wi-Fi. 9,300 of the venues offer public Wi-Fi. The WLANs are also used for multiple private-side applications, including back office processing and network failover services.

April 24, 2008

This week the National Security Agency (NSA) is leading teams from each of the service academies–Air Force, Coast Guard, Merchant Marine, Naval Academy, and West Point–in cyber war games. Each academy’s team will set up secure networks with sophisticated, layered defenses. A “Red Team” of NSA experts will then throw “an increasingly frenzied and intricate series of attacks at the academies’ networks,” in an attempt to hack them. An NSA “White Team” will keep score by tracking each team’s success at defending against the virtual attacks.

This year, West Point is defending its 2007 championship title and Commander’s Trophy.

April 23, 2008

Aruba Networks announced yesterday that it has partnered with Psion Teklogix in an attempt to achieve greater penetration into the industrial market. Psion Teklogix specializes in ruggedized Wi-Fi-based mobile solutions for extreme industrial environments, such as oil rigs and factories. Under the agreement, Psion Teklogix will resell Aruba’s secure mobility solutions as part of its industrial solution suite. 

“Aruba’s AP-85 industrial access point family allows our products to operate at exceptional range, in the harshest environments. Running Psion Teklogix devices on an Aruba wireless LAN is an excellent way to highlight the many advanced features we build into our products,” said Ron Caines, Psion Teklogix’s President of the Americas in a press release Tuesday.


The release of Amazon’s Kindle last year dew a lot of welcome attention to the ever-fledgling electronic word industry, which PDA and smartphone’ users have been well aware of for years. Mobipocket Reader, a popular application for a number of different mobile-device platforms, has just gained a very Kindle-like feature for BlackBerry users, Over The Air (OTA) downloads.

Download and installing the free Mobipocket Reader 6.0 upgrade now gives BlackBerry owners the ability to not read e-books, but peruse, buy and download e-books from Mobiepocket’s over 65,000-title strong catalogue as well. Users can also download free samples and reader reviews written by other Mobipocket users.


Verizon Wireless is now offering an unlimited data plan for smartphones. Initially available for the SMT5800, the XV6800 and the MOTO Q music 9m, the new data package promises to lower the cost and simplify the management of using your smartphone–by taking away the worry of overage fees–for sending and receiving e-mail and surfing the Web

Hence, the name of the plan: E-mail and Web for Smartphone.

For $29.99 per month with a qualifying voice plan, E-mail and Web for Smartphone (the name gets to the point but isn’t very catchy), supports unlimited Web browsing and up to 10 e-mail accounts, including Yahoo! Mail, AOL, Windows Live and Verizon.net.

Verizon says other devices will be added to E-mail and Web for Smartphone within the next few months. Additional smartphones offered by the carrier today include the Palm Treo 700p, 755p & 700wx and Samsung SCH-i760.

A $29.99 E-mail and Web for BlackBerry unlimited data plan is already available. As with the one for smartphones, it requires a qualifying voice plan. If you just want to use your BlackBerry for data (sans voice plan), it’ll cost you $34.99 per month.

As of today, Verizon offers the BlackBerry Pearl 8130 (in both pink and white), the BlackBerry 8703e, and the BlackBerry 8830 World Edition Smartphone (in both red and white).

Verizon will soon launch some new smartphones, including the BlackBerry Curve 8330, the Motorola Q9c, and the XV6900, its version of the HTC Touch.

News courtesy of PDAStreet.com.

April 21, 2008

iPhone users who long for Palm-style Graffiti input may be pleased to learn that a new iPhone keyboard plug-in might be the answer they’ve been looking for. Called HWPen, the native application—so jailbroken iPhones need apply—is the first software to bring handwriting recognition to the iPhone, reports PDAStreet.

Created by Chinese developer iPhone Cake, HWPen adds a button to the iPhone keyboard that, when tapped, allows you to use your finger to write letters and words on the screen. For those of us with fat fingers, an alternative option is to get one of the specially-designed Pogo or TapRight styli that, unlike traditional styli, is compatible with the iPhone display.


Ruckus today announced a new SmartMesh technology, as well as the ZoneDirector 3000,  a line of scalable, easy-to-use enterprise  WLAN controllers for Ruckus ZoneFlex APs, and the Ruckus FlexMaster remote Wi-Fi management system for centralized management of ZoneFlex APs and/or WLANs over a wide area IP network. For more details read, “Can Ruckus Redefine How Enterprise WLANs are Deployed?”

April 17, 2008

Will we see a gPhone this spring? Rumor has it that HTC may introduce the first Android-run smartphone on May 6th. PDAStreet.com has more details.

April 16, 2008

The Corpus Christi City Council last night voted unanimously to take back its network from Earthlink. Read the story here.

April 15, 2008

The Corpus Christi, Texas City Council will meet tonight to decide the fate of its Wi-Fi network. Originally deployed at a cost of roughly $7 million in 2004, the network was created as part of a pilot plan to implement SmartMeter reading. The project grew to include a handful of hotzones, access for government employees, and dreams of ubiquitious city-wide access for everyone. In March 2007, the city sold its WLAN to EarthLink, but just a few months later, EarthLink’s leadership decided to go in a different direciton, leaving the city and its network in Wi-Fi limbo.

The City Council is expected to recommend that the city resume control of the network by letting EarthLink out of its contract, with some concessions from EarthLink related to already scheduled improvements and equipment.

April 11, 2008

Microsoft announced this week its plans to expand its free commuter bus service for employees. The Wi-Fi-equipped regional bus service will add new routes and significantly expand its seats-per-day capacity. The Connector service, which launched last September, is part of a recruiting and retention strategy, according to a report from the Seattle Post Intelligencer.

To date, the Post Intelligencer reports, the Connector system has been used by 4,300 employees, more than 2,500 of whom had been driving to work alone. Microsoft reportedly estimates that taking these commuters out of their cars has saved more than 1.3 million pounds of carbon emissions, the equivalent of turning off electrical power to Microsoft’s Building 17, which holds 650 employees, for six months.


PDAStreet.com reported this week that a recent study of Chinese consumers by PearlResearch showed that 68% of those sampled had heard of the Wi-Fi-enabled iPhone. Currently, the iPhone is not available through any Chinese carriers. However, 88% of Chinese iPod owners who were surveyed said they would consider buying an iPhone, even though the $500 price tag is steep. For more, read the full story at PDAStreet.

April 10, 2008

Cyber Storm II was an international exercise, conducted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 10 through 14 in Washington, D.C. It simulated attacks via control systems, networks, software, and social engineering to disrupt transportation and energy infrastructure elements of state, federal, and international government agencies.

This week, high-level participants provided some general comments about what they learned in a panel discussion held at the RSA Conference. For the full story, read “An Imperfect (Cyber) Storm” at InternetNews.com.

April 9, 2008

Motorola said today that it has elected David Dorman (former AT&T CEO) as nonexecutive chairman to succeed Ed Zander, who will retire on May 5. For more read the Reuters report at InternetNews.com.

April 8, 2008

TRITTON Technologies today announced the availability of its new AX Micro Bluetooth headset ($59.99). Available with two size attachments, the AX Micro incorporates a new design with flexible finger grips that rest on the inner rim of the ear, to help improve ease of wear and stability. 

 The AX Micro is Bluetooth V1.2, 2.0-compliant and is equipped with multi-colored LED indications for Bluetooth connection, low battery, and charging, and it offers up to five hours of talk time. 


iPass announced yesterday that it has added the municipal wireless network encircled by Tokyo’s Yamanote Line— Tokyo’s busiest and most important commuter line—to its global network. The Yamanote Line connects most of Tokyo’s major stations and urban centers including the Ginza area, Shibuya, Shinjuku, and Ikebukuro and is used by more than 3.6 million commuters every day. With more than 2,000 access points spanning over 23-square miles, the Tokyo network is one of the largest in the world.

The world’s tenth largest city by population, Tokyo ranked as the world’s third busiest city in terms of Wi-Fi use, according to the iPass Mobile Broadband Index. (London and New York are busier.)

For more on Wi-Fi and commuters, read “Taking it to the Rails: WiMAX on Trains” and “Greyhound Launches In-Bus Wi-Fi.” For more on international deployments, read “Around the World in 80 Nodes.”

April 7, 2008

InternetNews.com’s David Needle reports that, at CTIA, Everex announced that its ultra-mobile Cloudbook Max will include an integrated Mobile WiMAX solution from GCT Semiconductor for use with Sprint’s high-speed VIA Technologies. The Cloudbook is powered by VIA’s 1.6GHz VIA C7-M ULV processor coupled with the VIA VX800 digital media IGP chipset and supports Microsoft Windows Vista operating system. Not due out for about a year, the Cloudbook weighs a bit more than half a pound.


Over the weekend, Yahoo! unveiled its plans for its new Web advertising management system. The much-anticipated system, known as AMP, hopes to simplify the process of buying and selling online ads for advertisers, ad agencies, ad trading networks, and Web site publishers. For more, read “Yahoo Unveils Online Ad Network.”

April 4, 2008

InternetNews.com reports that iPhone users in the U.S. are making heavy use of their iPhones, but are talking on them significantly less than other Americans using traditional mobile phones.

The study, from iSuppli showed that iPhone users spend just 46.5 percent of their time making voice phone calls from their devices versus traditional mobile users who use their phones for voice calls 71.7 percent of the time.


SpinVox, known for its Voice-to-Screen messaging technology, announced this week that it has been selected into the Avaya DevConnect program.

SpinVox’s voicemail-to-text service is an application that captures the content of a spoken message, converts it to text and then sends it as an e-mail or text message to PCs, mobile phones, or PDAs.

The Avaya DevConnect program “promotes the development, compliance-testing, and co-marketing of innovative third-party products that are compatible with standards-based Avaya solutions.” 

“Membership in Avaya’s developer community will help us build our business by expanding the availability and application of our voice-to-text services,” said Christina Domecq, CEO of SpinVox in a press release Tuesday. 

The Avaya DevConnect program currently includes thousands of software and hardware developer companies, integrators, service providers, and customers.  (Related story: “Save the Planet, Work Remotely.”)


TRITTON Technologies announced its new AX Visor Universal Bluetooth car kit ($119.99) this week. The AX Visor features auto-connect, speaker phone with caller ID display (OLED), both unidirectional and omni-directional microphones, and two hands-free modes, “car” (unidirectional microphone) and “speakerphone” (omni-directional microphone).

Users can expect up to 15 hours of talk time and 400 hours of standby time, thanks in part to the low-power consumption of the OLED. The unit can be re-charged either in the car, at a traditional outlet, or by USB.

The auto-connect feature spares users from re-pairing their phones by sensing the vibration of the vehicle and automatically pairing the Bluetooth phone to the AX Visor. 

Aapril 3, 2008

Reuters reported yesterday that iPhones are becoming harder to find in stores, which could indicate a component shortage or a clearing of shelves for a new model, according to analysts.


At CTIA Wireless this week, Yahoo announced version 2.0 of its oneSearch mobile search service and enhancements designed to improve search on mobile devices. For more, read “Yahoo’s Mobile Search, Take Two” at InternetNews.com.


Slacker, the Internet radio company and maker of the Slacker Portable Player, and Devicescape announced a partnership yesterday to incorporate Devicescape Connect into the Slacker Portable Player.

Devicescape automates the process of accessing Wi-Fi hotspots, which allows Slacker Portable users to more quickly refresh their Personal Radio stations at hotspots.

Slacker Personal Radio enables listeners to create, edit, and share their own online music stations or personalize over 100 professionally programmed stations, either over the Web or using the Wi-Fi-enabled portable device. (Stay tuned for a review of the Slacker Portable Player.)

Devicescape enables users to add home networks as well as commercially operated hotspots. It works on more than 100 different devices running on ten different operating systems and supports supports over 1000 public networks, including T-Mobile, British Telecom, and AT&T, for access via millions of hotspots worldwide. Devicescape also supports more than 100 university networks worldwide.


Firetide announced yesterday that it will offer tri-band (2.4, 4.9, 5 GHz) capability on its HotPoint access points and HotClient client premises equipment (CPE). Firetide had previously announced tri-band functionality for its HotPort mesh nodes.

The Firetide tri-band HotPoint access points ($695 for indoor; $995 for outdoor) and HotClient CPEs ($295 for indoor; $595 for outdoor) will begin shipping in May.

Wireless video surveillance over the licensed 4.9 GHz public safety band—the availability of which is one of the advantages of using a tri-radio set-up–is growing rapidly in the U.S. Stay tuned for more details (in May at Wi-FiPlanet) on these and other tools that are helping public safety agencies do their jobs more effectively using Wi-Fi. Til then, read “Wi-Fi to the Rescue,” “Carpe Diem: BelAir Seizes New Opportunities in Muni Wi-Fi,” and “Wi-Fi Protects Visitors During SuperBowl XLII.”

April 1, 2008

In the opening keynote presentation today at the CTIA WIRELESS 2008 tradeshow in Las Vegas, Lowell McAdam, President and CEO of Verizon Wireless and this year’s CTIA chairman, called the wireless industry “a great American success story” and emphasized the market value of competition, using strong language to argue against regulation.

“Our industry is at a critical crossroads as we enter our next 25 years,” he said.  “We cannot allow ourselves to be made into a 21st century version of a regulated utility. I believe this is a clear and present danger—if our public policy leaders interfere and if our industry permits them to.

“To tamper with the formula that built this economic growth engine is very dangerous.  Even as the economy has worsened in recent months, the wireless industry has continued as one of the few bright spots, creating jobs, investing in infrastructure, and launching exciting new products and services.”

He also spoke about the potential of “4G” technology, which he said, “will take the industry to new heights.”

The full text of McAdam’s speech is available at the Verizon Wireless Web site. 

Other keynote speakers scheduled to appear at CTIA this week include: former Presidential candidates John Edwards and Fred Thompson; Kevin Martin, Chairman of the FCC; and Sir Richard Branson, Founder and Chairman of Virgin Group and Virgin Mobil USA.


SmallBusinessComputing.com reported today that Microsoft will be offering seminars to help women succeed in business. Women are starting businesses at twice the rate of men, but they are not as quick to develop a Web presence, or to develop a strong Internet-related strategy.

“Building a larger organization takes a strategic plan; one that [Susan Wilson] Solovic [author of the Girls’ Guide to Building a Million-Dollar Business and co-founder of SBTV.com] said involves technology and a strong Web presence. She recalled her recent involvement with a group of businesswomen who owned local yarn shops—and 90 percent of them did not have a Web site,” reports SmallBusinessComputing.com.

The seminar series, which starts tomorrow in St. Louis, will be offered in five major U.S. cities.

Naomi Graychase is Managing Editor at Wi-FiPlanet.com.

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