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Industry News

The Commercial Market

July 1, 2002
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The Commercial Market


The IEEE 802 Committee Forms New Radio Regulatory Advisory Group

The IEEE 802 Local and Metropolitan Area Networks Standards Committee (LMSC), at its 11-15 March plenary, approved the formation of a new technical advisory group (TAG) dedicated to addressing radio regulations as they impact the committee's groups developing wireless standards.

As IEEE 802-11 (Wireless LANs), IEEE 802-15 (Wireless Personal Area Networks) and IEEE 802-16 (Wireless Metropolitan Area Networks) standards gain worldwide acceptance, and as each group continues to address evolving needs of the wireless industry, coordination and knowledge of radio regulations are a vital part of the IEEE 802 LMSC's work.

The overarching objective of the IEEE 802-18 Advisory Group is to act as the 802 radio regulatory expert and interface with national regulatory bodies, such as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), as well as with international regulatory bodies, such as the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT), the Inter-American Telecommunication Commission (CITEL) and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). Because the group will operate by seeking a balanced consensus position in an open technical environment, its advice is expected to be carefully considered by regulatory bodies.

The Advisory Group will be meeting with the IEEE 802-11 and IEEE 802-15 groups at its interim meeting on May 13-17, in Sydney, Australia. Further, it is in the process of developing its charter that will be presented for approval at the next Plenary, July 8-12, in Vancouver, BC, Canada.

The IEEE 802 LAN/MAN Standards Committee develops Local Area Network standards and Metropolitan Area Network standards. Its most widely used standards are for the Ethernet, Token Ring, Wireless LAN, Bridging and Virtual Bridged LANs. An individual Working Group provides the focus for each area. More information about each group can be found at http://grouper.ieee.org/group/802/dots.html.

Implantable MEMS and Big Brother -Resistance is Futile?

According to Instat/ MDR, Applied Digital Solutions (ADS) manufactures the VeriChip, a microchip that is already part of a pager being used by the California Department of Corrections as a means for tracking prisoners. Such an end-use could be viewed as useful and fairly benign. The real news, however, is the impending availability of their next-generation device - an implantable version that is comprised of both a microchip and a MEMS biosensor.

In just a few months time, ADS expects to receive FDA approval of Digital Angel. The sensor chip can be implanted under the skin of the forearm in just seconds, and will continuously monitor key body parameters including pulse, temperature and blood glucose. The company is generally promoting it as a means to provide identification and important medical information in the event of an emergency. But that's only useful if all police, rescue and medical personnel have the scanner necessary to read the information on the chip. And that's not likely to happen until the use of these chips becomes ubiquitous. It's a classic case of the chicken and the egg.

What the company has quietly underscored is their real commercial intent: people tracking. The kicker is the addition of GPS capability to the sensor chip, which will allow ongoing monitoring of the person with the implanted device 24 hours a day, seven days a week, anywhere, anytime. The company is promoting it as a safety device and says it has signed a deal to distribute the chip in Brazil as means to prevent (or at least reduce) the rampant kidnappings that occur there.

Needless to say, it's only a matter of time before privacy advocates, civil libertarians and even religious groups jump all over this. From the Instat Analyst's point of view, the technology should be raising a lot of questions: who is doing the tracking, for what purpose and who has access to this data? Are there certain jobs, such as those that are high risk or could impact national security, which could justify the mandatory use of such a device? What sort of policies and regulations should be put in place in regard of its use and should they be implemented at the local, state, federal or international level?

There will be many, of course, who embrace the technology as "state of the art peace of mind." But for those who do not see it that way - we can only wonder at some point down the road whether resistance will indeed be futile?

Stratex Networks Brings Broadband to Rural America

DMC Stratex Networks Inc., one of the world's foremost solution providers for mobile applications and broadband wireless access, announced it will supply Altium 311 and XP4 licensed radios to build a network backbone in Allegany County, MD, a rural area in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. The "AllCoNet 2" network will provide broadband access to 85 percent of the residents, 90 percent of the businesses and 100 percent of the industrial parks in the county. The network is expected to be complete within six months.

Jeff Blank, AllCoNet's supervisor of Microcomputing & Networking, stated, "A traditional fiber network for Allegany County would cost an estimated $180 M, whereas a wireless network will cost only $3 to 5 M. The ROI time frame for the wireless alternative was too compelling to ignore."

Wireless Market 2002: Wireless Networking Gets Cheaper

In-Stat/MDR has completed its analysis of the WLAN market's performance during the first quarter of the year. The main themes from the results include the following:

·  Embedded WLAN in notebook PCs is finally taking hold in the business space. Notebooks with embedded Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11b) finally hit the market in noticeable volumes in the first quarter of 2002, from the likes of IBM, Toshiba, HP and Fujitsu. Agere and Actiontec, two of the main Wi-Fi mini PCI suppliers to PC OEMs, benefited from this uptake in embedded Wi-Fi.

·  Asia Pacific and Europe are increasingly taking away geographic share of WLAN shipments from North America. Hot regions include Japan and South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Australia, the Nordic European countries and the UK.

·  The high end enterprise segment of the WLAN market performed poorly in the first quarter, as shipments of enterprise-class AP solutions greatly slacked behind those of lower end, sub-$200 AP solutions. In-Stat/MDR believes that one reason for this slowdown was the significant tightening of corporate budgets. However, another significant reason may be that many large and medium businesses are waiting to deploy hardware that supports both Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi5 (IEEE 802-11a), in order to be able to support 802-11b, anticipated 802-11g, as well as the increasing number of 802-11a clients. So, scalability and potential technology obsolescence weighed heavily on the minds of corporate WLAN buyers in the first part of 2002.

·  Much of the growth in business WLAN shipments was primarily driven by low cost providers that were also strong in the home market, including Linksys, Buffalo, D-Link and Netgear. In-Stat/MDR believes low cost APs are being deployed in SOHOs, small businesses and in many branch or remote offices of large businesses, as well as in individual departments within large corporations. These APs are widely available in retail and e-tail, at sub-$200 prices.

·  The residential Wi-Fi market continued to drive overall WLAN volume growth. The growth was heavily spurred on by the popularity of low cost wireless broadband gateway products (combo AP and router devices often with multiple Ethernet ports and optional print servers), increasingly available from a variety of vendors, at continually falling prices.

For the first quarter, non-trivial shipments of 802-11a NICs and APs were recorded, from the likes of Intel, SMC, Netgear, Proxim, D-Link and Actiontec. Although many of these 802-11a pioneers had announced that they were shipping in 4Q2001, most did not have product ready to ship until 1Q2002, needing additional time to refine products.

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